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רְאוּבֵן
father of בֹּהַן



רְאוּבֵן   (בראשית כט-נ, דברי הימים א ב:א, ה:א-ג )
Eldest son of both יעקב   and לאה לאה   names her son ראובן   because "God has seen (ראה ) my affliction." ראובן   finds some mandrakes which he brings to his mother. His aunt רחל   wants them and she trades לאה   her conjugal rights for the plant (פרשת ויצא ). After רחל 's  death, ראובן   sleeps with בלהה The מדרש   (appearing in שבת נה :)  argues that ראובן   did not actually have relations with his step-mother, but rather took his father's bed from בלהה 's  tent and removed it to his mother לאה 's  tent (פרשת וישלח ). During the fateful episode of the sale of יוסף ראובן   is the one who attempts to save his little brother. יוסף   comes to check on his brothers who are tending sheep away from home. The group sees יוסף   from a distance and plots to kill him but ראובן   intercedes and convinces the others to throw him into a pit instead, planning to rescue the lad later to restore him to his father. In ראובן 's  absence the brothers (led by יהודה ) sell יוסף   to some passing ישמעאלים and when ראובן   returns to retrieve יוסף   he is distraught to find him gone (פרשת וישב ). During the crisis of the famine, ראובן 's  position as leader of the family is further weakened. יעקב   is reluctant to send בנימין   to Egypt, a move which would satisfy the request of the ruler the brothers encountered on their first visit to secure food. ראובן   tries to convince יעקב   to send בנימין   with them and tells his father that should he return without בנימין יעקב   may kill ראובן 's  two sons. יעקב   completely ignores this odd statement (פרשת מקץ ). The tribes of ראובן   and גד   as well as half of מנשה   request land on the eastern side of the Jordan river rather than on the western side. They feel that the eastern side can better support their abundant cattle. משה   grants their wish on condition that they participate in the battles on the western side of the river too (פרשת מטות ). יהושע   reminds the tribe of their obligation in chapter 1 of ספר יהושע   and in chapter 22 acknowledges that they have fulfilled their duty. After the tribes return to their land on the eastern side of the Jordan River, they construct an altar which is interpreted by the western Israelites as a break with the nation and a forbidden act. A delegation confronts the eastern community and threatens them with war if they do not remove the altar. The tribes answer that the altar they have built is not for sacrifices, but is a monument to their association with the rest of Israel (יהושע כב ). דתן   and אבירם   are notable personalities from שבט ראובן .


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