Torah Faith for the Tribe of Reuben in the Karaite Tradition An Assembly of Faith (AOF) of the Advancing Noah Movement (ANM)
The Testament of Reuben Concerning Thoughts
(From the Pseudepigrapha)
1. The copy of the Testament of Reuben, what things he charged his sons before he died in the hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life. When he was sick two years after the death of Joseph, his sons and his sons' sons were gathered together to visit him. And he said to them, My children, I am dying, and go the way of my fathers. And when he saw there Judah and Gad and Asher, his brethren, he said to them, Raise me up, my brethren, that I may tell to my brethren and to my children what things I have hidden in my heart, for from henceforth my strength faileth me. And he arose and kissed them, and said, weeping: Hear, my brethren, give ear to Reuben your father, what things I command you. And, behold, I call to witness against you this day the God of heaven, that ye walk not in the ignorance of youth and fornication wherein I ran greedily, and I defiled the bed of Jacob my father. For I tell you that He smote me with a sore plague in my loins for seven months; and had not Jacob our father prayed for me to the Lord, surely the Lord would have destroyed me. For I was thirty years old when I did this evil in the sight of the Lord, and for seven months I was sick even unto death; and I repented for seven years in the set purpose of my soul before the Lord. Wine and strong drink I drank not, and flesh entered not into my mouth, and I tasted not pleasant food, mourning over my sin, for it was great. And it shall not so be done in Israel.
2. And now hear me, my children, what things I saw in my repentance concerning the seven spirits of error. Seven spirits are given against man from Beliar, and they are chief of the works of youth; and seven spirits are given to him at his creation, that in them should be done every work of man. The first (1) spirit is of life, with which man's whole being is created. The second (2) spirit is of sight, with which ariseth desire. The third (3) spirit is of hearing, with which cometh teaching. The fourth (4) spirit is of smelling, with which taste is given to draw air and breath. The fifth (5) spirit is of speech, with which cometh knowledge. The sixth (6) spirit is of taste, with which cometh the eating of meats and drinks; and by them strength is produced, for in food is the foundation of strength. The seventh (7) spirit is of begetting and sexual intercourse, with which through love of pleasure sin also entereth in: wherefore it is the last in order of creation, and the first of youth, because it is filled with ignorance, which leadeth the young as a blind man to a pit, and as cattle to a precipice.
3. Besides all these, there is an eighth (8) spirit of sleep, with which is created entrancement of man's nature, and the image of death. With these spirits are mingled the spirits of error. The first (1), the spirit of fornication, dwelleth in the nature and in the senses; the second (2) spirit of insatiateness in the belly; the third (3) spirit of fighting in the liver and the gall. The fourth (4) is the spirit of fawning and trickery, that through over-officiousness a man may be fair in seeming. The fifth (5) is the spirit of arrogance, that a man may be stirred up and become high-minded. The sixth (6) is the spirit of lying, in perdition and in jealousy to feign words, and to conceal words from kindred and friends. The seventh (7) is the spirit of injustice, with which are theft and pilferings, that a man may work the desire of his heart; for injustice worketh together with the other spirits by means of craft. Besides all these, the spirit of sleep, the eighth (8) spirit, is conjoined with error and fantasy. And so perisheth every young man, darkening his mind from the truth, and not understanding the law of God, nor obeying the admonitions of his fathers, as befell me also in my youth.
And now, children, love the truth, and it shall preserve you. I counsel you, hear ye Reuben your father. Pay no heed to the sight of a woman, nor yet associate privately with a female under the authority of a husband, nor meddle with affairs of womankind. For had I not seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this great iniquity. For my mind, dwelling on the woman's nakedness, suffered me not to sleep until I had done the abominable deed. For while Jacob our father was absent with Isaac his father, when we were in Gader, near to Ephratha in Bethlehem, Bilhah was drunk, and lay asleep uncovered in her chamber; and when I went in and beheld her nakedness, I wrought that impiety, and leaving her sleeping I departed. And forthwith an angel of God revealed to my father Jacob concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more.
4. Pay no heed, therefore, to the beauty of women, and muse not upon their doings; but walk in singleness of heart in the fear of the Lord, and be labouring in works, and roaming in study and among your flocks, until the Lord give to you a wife whom He will, that ye suffer not as I did. Until my father's death I had not boldness to look stedfastly into the face of Jacob, or to speak to any of my brethren, because of my reproach; and even until now my conscience afflicteth me by reason of my sin. And my father comforted me; for he prayed for me unto the Lord, that the anger of the Lord might pass away from me, even as the Lord showed me. From henceforth, then, I was protected, and I sinned not. Therefore, my children, observe all things whatsoever I command you, and ye shall not sin. For fornication is the destruction of the soul, separating it from God, and bringing it near to idols, because it deceiveth the mind and understanding, and bringeth down young men into hell before their time. For many hath fornication destroyed; because, though a man be old or noble, it maketh him a reproach and a laughing-stock with Beliar and the sons of men. For in that Joseph kept himself from every woman, and purged his thoughts from all fornication, he found favour before the Lord and men. For the Egyptian woman did many things unto him, and called for magicians, and offered him love potions, and the purpose of his soul admitted no evil desire. Therefore the God of my fathers delivered him from every visible and hidden death. For if fornication overcome not the mind, neither shall Beliar overcome you.
5. Hurtful are women, my children; because, since they have no power or strength over the man, they act subtilly through outward guise how they may draw him to themselves; and whom they cannot overcome by strength, him they overcome by craft. For moreover the angel of God told me concerning them, and taught me that women are overcome by the spirit of fornication more than men, and they devise in their heart against men; and by means of their adornment they deceive first their minds, and instil the poison by the glance of their eye, and then they take them captive by their doings, for a woman cannot overcome a man by force.
Therefore flee fornication, my children, and command your wives and your daughters that they adorn not their heads and their faces; because every woman who acteth deceitfully in these things hath been reserved to everlasting punishment. For thus they allured the Watchers before the flood; and as these continually beheld them, they fell into desire each of the other, and they conceived the act in their mind, and changed themselves into the shape of men, and appeared to them in their congress with their husbands; and the women, having in their minds desire toward their apparitions, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as reaching even unto heaven.
6. Beware, therefore, of fornication; and if you wish to be pure in your mind, guard your senses against every woman. And command them likewise not to company with men, that they also be pure in their mind. For constant meetings, even though the ungodly deed be not wrought, are to them an irremediable disease, and to us an everlasting reproach of Beliar; for fornication hath neither understanding nor godliness in itself, and all jealousy dwelleth in the desire thereof. Therefore ye will be jealous against the sons of Levi, and will seek to be exalted over them; but ye shall not be able, for God will work their avenging, and ye shall die by an evil death. For to Levi the Lord gave the sovereignty, and to Judah, and to me also with them, and to Dan and Joseph, that we should be for rulers. Therefore I command you to hearken to Levi, because he shall know the law of the Lord, and shall give ordinances for judgment and sacrifice for all Israel until the completion of the times of Christ, the High Priest whom the Lord hath declared. I adjure you by the God of heaven to work truth each one with his neighbour; and draw ye near to Levi in humbleness of heart, that ye may receive a blessing from his mouth. For he shall bless Israel; and specially Judah, because him hath the Lord chosen to rule over all the peoples. And worship we his Seed, because He shall die for us in wars visible and invisible, and shall be among you an everlasting king.
7. And Reuben died after that he had given command to his sons; and they placed him in a coffin until they bore him up from Egypt, and buried him in Hebron in the double cave where his fathers were.
Tribe of Reuben
|Tribes of Israel|
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Reuben (Hebrew: שֵׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן, Modern Shevet Re'uven, Tiberian Šḗḇeṭ Rəʼûḇēn) was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Unlike the majority of the tribes, the land of Reuben, along with that of Gad and half of Manasseh, was on the eastern side of the Jordan. According to the biblical narrative, the Tribe of Reuben descended from Reuben, the oldest son of the patriarch Jacob. Reuben, along with nine other tribes, is reckoned by the Bible as part of the northern kingdom of Israel, and disappears from history with the demise of that kingdom in c. 723 BC.
The Book of Joshua records that the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh were allocated land by Moses on the eastern side of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea (Joshua 13:15-23). The Tribe of Reuben was allocated the territory immediately east of the Dead Sea, reaching from the Arnon river in the south, and as far north as the Dead Sea stretched, with an eastern border vaguely defined by the land dissolving into desert; the territory included the plain of Madaba.
The exact border between Reuben and the Tribe of Gad, generally considered to have been situated to the north of Reuben, is somewhat inconsistently specified in the Bible, with Dibon and Aroer being part of Gad according to Numbers 32:34, but part of Reuben according to Joshua 13:15-16. On that basis, the Jewish Encylopedia (1906) claimed that the territory of Reuben was an enclave in the territory of Gad.
The territories described in Joshua 13 depict Gad as being to the north of Reuben, while the description in Numbers 32 and 34 has Reubenites living near Heshbon, surrounded by Gadites. Yohanan Aharoni interpreted the description in Numbers as referring to the actual distribution of Reubenites and Gadites around the time of David, and the description in Joshua 13 as reflecting administrative districts set up in the time of Solomon, but not reflecting actual tribal settlement patterns. By 900 BC, some of the territory and Reuben and Gad had been captured by the Moabite kingdom.
According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Reuben, the first son of Jacob, and a son of Leah, from whom it took its name. However, Peake's commentary (1919) viewed this as a postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[page needed] Likewise, the majority of modern scholarship views many of the events described in Genesis and Exodus, which contain the early stories about Jacob and his immediate descendants, as non-historical.
The Bible divides the tribe of Reuben into four clans or families, the Hanochites, Palluites, Hezronites, and Carmites, which according to the Bible were descended from Reuben's sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hazron, and Carmi.
Genesis 49 contains the Blessing of Jacob, a series of predictions which the Bible presents as delivered by the patriarch Jacob about the future fate of the tribes descended from his twelve sons. Some textual scholars date it substantially later than these events.[page needed] Reuben is characterised as fickle, "unstable as water", and condemned to no longer "have . . . the excellency" due to Reuben's crime of having sexual relations with his father's wife Bilhah.
The Bible relates that Jacob and his twelve sons, along with their sons, went down into Egypt as a group of about seventy persons, including Reuben and his four sons. According to the account in Exodus, the Israelites stayed in Egypt for 430 years, and their numbers grew to include about 600,000 men, not counting women or children. At this point they left Egypt (see The Exodus) and wandered for forty years in the wilderness between Egypt and the promised land of Canaan.
As the tribes prepared to enter Canaan by crossing over to the west side of the Jordan, the Book of Numbers records that the Israelites defeated Sihon and Og, kings east of the Jordan. The tribes of Reuben and Gad requested that they be given land in the territory east of Jordan, because it was suitable for their needs as livestock grazers. In exchange for their promise to help with the conquest of the land west of the Jordan, Moses accepted their request and granted to them and half of Manasseh land east of the Jordan. Following the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of the Israelites, and with the help of these eastern tribes including Reuben, conquered some of Canaan and assigned the land of Israel to the various twelve tribes.
According to Kenneth Kitchen, this conquest occurred around 1200 BC, but "almost all" scholars have abandoned the idea that Joshua carried out a conquest of Canaan similar to that described in the Book of Joshua.Israel Finkelstein et al., have claimed that lack of evidence for a systematic conquest or the abrupt appearance of a new culture indicates that the Israelites simply arose as a subculture within Canaanite society. The territory of Reuben encapsulated the territory of the earlier kingdom of Sihon.
From after the conquest of the land under Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel, the Tribe of Reuben was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed, and in times of crisis the people were led by ad hoc leaders known as Judges (see the Book of Judges). In this period, according to the ancient Song of Deborah, Reuben declined to take part in the war against Sisera, the people instead idly resting among their flocks as if it were a time of peace, though the decision to do so was taken with a heavy heart.
With the growth of the threat from Philistine incursions, the Israelite tribes decided to form a strong centralised monarchy to meet the challenge, and the Tribe of Reuben joined the new kingdom with Saul as the first king. After the death of Saul, all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul, but after the death of Ish-bosheth, Saul's son and successor to the throne of Israel, the Tribe of Reuben joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, king of a re-united Kingdom of Israel.
According to the Book of Chronicles, Adina and thirty Reubenites aided David as members of his mighty warriors in conquering the City of David. Also according to Chronicles, during the reign of King Saul Reuben instigated a war with the Hagarites, and was victorious; in another portion of the same text, Reuben is said to have been assisted in this war by Gad and the eastern half of Manasseh.
Upon the accession of Rehoboam, David's grandson, in c. 930 BC the northern tribes split from the House of David to reform a Kingdom of Israel as the Northern Kingdom. Reuben was a member of the kingdom until the kingdom was conquered by Assyria. According to 1 Chronicles 5:26, Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (ruled 745-727 BC) deported the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to "Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River."