Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob and listen to Israel your father.
Rueben, you are my first-born, my power and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of exaltation and the excellency of power.
Boiling like water, you did not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed, then you defiled it – he went up to my couch [Genesis 49:2-4]
A birthright is be-korah, in Hebrew. 1) It belonged naturally to the first-born, whether offspring of the legal wife or a concubine.
Reuben was born of Leah, Jacob’s first wife, who was unloved by Jacob [Gen.29:31].
2) The first-born became head of the family, continuing the line.
3) The first-born inherited a double portion of the paternal estate.
Reuben often forfeited this distinction, using poor judgement in many instances:
a)laying with his father’s concubine [35:22];
b)in the days of the wheat harvest, bringing his mother love-apples or mandrakes, an aphrodisiac or hallucinogen [30:14];
c) rescuing his younger brother Joseph from death, but throwing him into a pit in the desert [37:21-22];
d) lamenting his sin and pledging his own sons to Jacob [42:22 & 37].
Reuben lost his lead not only as head tribe but also as leader, to Judah and Joseph! Reuben is first tribe in Numbers 1:5 & 20. Reuben’s tribe fell to 4th place, 2nd division South side, with Simeon and Gad, in the procession and placement around the tabernacle while Judah became first. Joseph’s 2 sons, Ephraim and Menashsheh, replace Reuben and Simeon as Jacob’s sons [Gen. 48:5]!
Later, Reubenites would settle east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea, cut off in the valley. A Reubenite did assist Northern Judah [Joshua 15:6]. They erected their own altar which lead to apostasy or idol worship [22:10-34]. They did not answer the call to assist Deborah [Judges 5:15-17] but did assist Benjamin [20:10, 21:5]!
Living near Mo-ab [now Jordan], they were exposed to hostile influences and suffered invasions. Mo-ab then established authority over them [never did enter the promised land], and by 830 BC Reuben was undistinguished, not even mentioned on the Moabite Stone [only tribe of Gad]! In fact, Reuben was absorbed by Gad and went into Assyrian exile, and scattered.
The Reuben census counted a loss : from 46, 500 [ Num.1:21] to 43, 730 [26:7]!
Reubenites Dathan and Abiram revolted against Moses in an attempt to assert rights. [Num. 16:1 ]
Judah instead received the “birthright” by Jacob:
You, Yahudah [“worshipper of Yah”], your brothers praise you; you hand is on the neck of your enemies [victory]; your fathers’s children bow down before you [Messiah Y’shua came from Judah].
Yahudah is a lion’s cub; from the prey you have gone up, my son! He bowed down, he crouched like a lion [Lion of Judah!]…
The sceptre shall not turn aside from Yahudah, nor a Lawgiver from between His feet, until Shiloh comes [the Messiah], and to Him is the obedience of the peoples[ worship the Son, Ps. 2]…[Genesis 49:8-12]”!
Jesus Christ Y’shua the Messiah , through the line of Judah, has nailed satan to the cross; His garments have been washed in the wine, the blood of grapes. It is said in Revelation and in visions that His teeth are whiter than milk [Righteous Ruler] and His eyes darker than wine [the Fire of Yahweh God]!
We are to be the ‘head’ and not the ‘tail’! Reuben became part of the tail while Judah became the head [even though Tamar his daughter-in law was more righteous, Gen. 38: 26]. Reuben lost his birthright to 2nd place. According to the “law of primogeniture”, in Deuteronomy,
1) the father could disregard and divert to a younger son [Gen. 48:22, 1 Chronicles 26:10];
2) the father was prohibited from making the younger son the ‘possessor’ just because the mother was the ‘beloved’ [Deuteronomy 21:15];
3) and, as with Abraham ‘s Ishmael, a son born to the concubine could be displaced by the legal wife’s son. [Gen. 17:20-21]
Reuben had duties as the first-born. As successor to the family property, he was responsible to maintain the younger sons [his brethren], any widows and unmarried daughters, like his sister Dinah and assert authority over the household as a whole. However, Simeon and Levy took it upon themselves to avenge the rape of their sister and killed all males [Gen. 34:25]! “The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city because they had defiled their sister [v.27]”. Jacob was upset: “You have troubled me by making me a stench among the [neighbors]…I shall be destroyed, my household and I. [v.30].”
It is not important our material possession nor the distribution of that material possession. We are to be foreigners in the land, for Yahweh owns all the land and possesses us [1 Peter 2:9 !]. Real estate is Yahweh’s and His people and their material things all belong to HIM [Leviticus25:23]! He gives and He takes away! He is Sovereign! In Hebrew, there is no possessive pronoun, like “mine” or “my”; it is the “house given to me” or the child given to me! Hannah understood that and gave back to Yahweh her son, Samuel [1 Samuel 1-2].
Blessed are the meek [humble, lowly] because they shall inherit the earth! [Matthew 5:5]
So, inherit or possess, claim, gain and win the promises of Yahweh! Even if we inherit only the wind as in “Inherit the Wind”, it is good! In Hebrew, the Ruach or Spirit, is breath , the very breath of the Almighty breathing on you!
” Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His wonderful Light [1 Peter 1:9b]”.
The Levites, the priests in charge of the holy things of Yahweh, receive no inheritance [Ezekiel 44:28]. Yahweh is our “inheritance”! We are His priests [1 Peter 2, v.9a] , in charge of keeping the flame , His fire or Spirit in us, going eternally. In worship today the ‘eternal’ flame is lit, signifying His Eternal Spirit. We are to keep that fire going [v.11-12 & all 1 Peter 1:13- 5:11]! The “zeal and mighty deeds” of Yahweh will accomplish this [see the prayer of Isaiah, 63: 11-19]! He wills to do this in us!
Let us not covet nor murder nor commit adultery nor steal nor give false testimony nor defraud nor dishonor our father or mother, [Mark 10:17-22] nor be cast down about our debt! Yahweh will remember His covenant with His people! We are never forsaken unless we become defiled or polluted with the abominations of the nations around us; and even then, out of His rachamim or mercies, He calls us out of that darkness!
We have Yahweh’s promises of restoration and hope for Reuben, in Ezekiel 48:6 and Revelation 7:5! Yah has seen our affliction! The land will be divided again and each of us will receive an inheritance [Ez. 47:13, 48:29]. The prince of darkness is not allowed to take away [46:16-18]!
Y’shua is our inheritance; transmission of property is not based on physical descent but on His divine call and appointment [Matthew 21:38, Mark 12:1-8]!
“…Flesh and blood cannot share in the Kingdom of Elohim, nor can something that decays share in what does not decay [1 Corinthians 15: 50]!” [see also 1 Cor. 6:9, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 1:14,18 & 5:5]
“Then the King will say to those on His right [the sheep], ‘Come, you whom My Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world [Mat.25:34]!” [also 2 Peter 1:3-4]
” The Spirit bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of Elohim; and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of Elohim and joint-heirs with the Messiah – provided we are suffering with Him in order also to be glorified with Him [Romans 8:16-17]!”
May we receive the inheritance that cannot decay that is kept safe in heaven [1 Peter 1:4]! Elohim in His love , through Messiah, came to save and redeem His ‘fallen’ creation. Let us receive our full inheritance! It’s jubilee time! All that has passed temporarily out of our hands will return to the heir or original owner [Leviticus 25:25-34]! Glory! Shalom…