🔼The name Reuben: Summary
- Behold A Son, Son Of Vision
- From (1) the verb ראה (ra'a), to see or understand, and (2) the noun בן (ben), son.
🔼The name Reuben in the Bible
Reuben is the first son of Jacob (Genesis 29:32). His mother is Leah. Reuben forfeits his position as first born when he sleeps with Bilhah, the mother of Jacob's sons number five and six (Genesis 35:22). Reuben's progeny, the ראובני (Reubenites; Numbers 26:7) becomes one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
...and [Leah] named him Reuben, for she said, "Because the Lord has seen my affliction..".
After the conquest of Canaan, the leaders of the tribe of Reuben chose their territory east of the Jordan, together with the tribes of Gad and Manasseh (Numbers 32:33). That forced them to invade the lands of the Ammonites and Moabites and later exposed them to the forces of Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:6, 5:26).
The name Reuben appears only once in the New Testament, in the paragraph in Revelation that deals with the 144,000 sealed Israelites (spelled Ρουβην, Rhouben; Revelation 7:5).
🔼Etymology of the name Reuben
The name Reuben is a combination of two words:
The first part comes from the verb ראה (ra'a) meaning to see or understand:
The verb ראה (ra'a) means to see, and by extension to understand. It may mean to become visible (of, say, an angel) or to become understandable (of, say, a theory). Noun ראה (ro'eh) means either seer, or prophetic vision, and noun מראה (mar'a) means either vision as means of revelation, or mirror. Nouns ראית (re'ut) and ראות (re'ut) mean a looking. Nouns ראי (ro'i) and מראה (mar'eh) mean sight or appearance. Adjective ראה (ra'eh) means seeing.
The second part of the name Reuben is the word בן (ben) meaning son, offspring:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names agree: The name Reuben means Behold A Son. Still, the name Reuben also means Son Of Vision, or Son Who's Seen.