Reuben, Tribe of

at the Exodus numbered 46,500 male adults, from twenty years old
and upwards (Num. 1:20, 21), and at the close of the wilderness
wanderings they numbered only 43,730 (26:7). This tribe united
with that of Gad in asking permission to settle in the "land of
Gilead," "on the other side of Jordan" (32:1-5). The lot
assigned to Reuben was the smallest of the lots given to the
trans-Jordanic tribes. It extended from the Arnon, in the south
along the coast of the Dead Sea to its northern end, where the
Jordan flows into it (Josh. 13:15-21, 23). It thus embraced the
original kingdom of Sihon. Reuben is "to the eastern tribes what
Simeon is to the western. 'Unstable as water,' he vanishes away
into a mere Arabian tribe. 'His men are few;' it is all he can
do 'to live and not die.' We hear of nothing beyond the
multiplication of their cattle in the land of Gilead, their
spoils of 'camels fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand' (1
Chr. 5:9, 10, 20, 21). In the great struggles of the nation he
never took part. The complaint against him in the song of
Deborah is the summary of his whole history. 'By the streams of
Reuben,' i.e., by the fresh streams which descend from the
eastern hills into the Jordan and the Dead Sea, on whose banks
the Bedouin chiefs met then as now to debate, in the 'streams'
of Reuben great were the 'desires'", i.e., resolutions which
were never carried out, the people idly resting among their
flocks as if it were a time of peace (Judg. 5:15, 16). Stanley's
Sinai and Israel.

All the three tribes on the east of Jordan at length fell into
complete apostasy, and the time of retribution came. God
"stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit
of Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria," to carry them away, the
first of the tribes, into captivity (1 Chr. 5:25, 26).