Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Reuben; Behold, a Son
The story line of the eleven sons of Jacob is one of family squabbles, contentions, competition of jealous sisters and the dysfunction of wives, concubines and half-brothers all jostling for their place in the family order. The chaos and malfunctions of this clan is rife with events and consequential results to which many of us can relate. The very beginning of this saga begins with Jacob running away from home in fear of his life, and bumping into the girl of his dreams. He meets Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, and is smitten with her from the outset.
As the story unfolds, we discover that Jacob is persuaded to serve Uncle Laban for the privilege of marrying Rachel, and then finds that his servitude rewards him first of all the responsibility to take Leah, the older sister, as wife before he can also add Rachel to his harem. This was not what Jacob had agreed to with his uncle Laban. By the time he gets to add Rachel to his harem, Leah is well aware that she is not who Jacob wanted, and the scripture refers to Leah as ‘hated’. The Hebrew word we translate as ‘hate’ is the verb ‘sah-nay’, Strong’s #8130. This particular word has no other relevant uses and/or associated words that I can discern. It seems to be very consistent in its use as referring to dislike, hate, reject, refuse, repel, etc. This word ‘sah-nay’ is simply synonymous with self-loathing, and self-pity.
In the relationship between Leah and Jacob, Leah felt rejected, unwanted and scorned. She felt hated. The name ‘Leah’ literally means “…to be negated”. ‘Leah’ is translated most often as ‘weary’, or ‘wearied’. Translating this word as ‘weary’ misses the point of what the word is revealing. ‘Leah’ is the feminine activity form of the two-letter word for ‘not’ (Strong’s # 3808); or more accurately, negation. And in the context of feeling or experiencing continuous ‘negation’, weary or wearied can certainly be understood. Leah, the wife of Jacob, was wearied by a heart/mind that continuously dealt with negation, or rejection. Leah undoubtedly knew that Jacob thought that he was serving Laban for the privilege of marrying Rachel. Leah knew that Jacob had been deceived by her father into accepting Leah, just so that he could have Rachel as well. Leah was well aware that Jacob’s true love was for Rachel, the younger sister. Leah understood, all too well, the concept of negation and rejection. However, that ‘love nest’ with Rachel was producing no heir for Jacob; indeed, Rachel appeared to be barren. [Gen. 29:30-31] Consequently, when Leah finally conceived and bore a son, her response was one of vindication. Her response was “Reuben” (‘reh-oo-vein’). “Behold, a son”.
KJV Genesis 29:32 And Leah conceived and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.
“…she called his name Reuben”. The name ‘Reuben’, as it is spelled in the scripture in Hebrew, should be translated literally into English as “…see you; a son”. The Hebrew spelling of the name is quite significant, and tells a story to the reader that is difficult to grasp in the English language. The name ‘Reuben’, according to the scripture, was chosen and announced by Leah. Leah was announcing her vindication as the first wife of Jacob by saying, “Look, I’ve produced a son for my husband”. She was actually taunting her younger sister, as well as everyone else. It was as if to say, “What have you got to show for your husband? See, I’ve produced a son”.
Leah, rejected and hated and wearied, was declaring that as the first wife, she had also produced the ‘firstborn’ son. She was proclaiming to everyone “Behold, y’all! The Son”. Well, that’s how she would have said it in South Carolina.
The word we translate as ‘Reuben’ comes directly from the verb ‘rah-ah’; to see. This word ‘rah-ah’ is numbered by Strong’s as H7200, and is used prolifically throughout the Old Testament. The importance of this word ‘rah-ah’ is not of ‘seeing’ with the natural eye, but rather seeing with your understanding. To ‘rah-ah’ is to understand what is being communicated, or taught. ‘Rah-ah’ is synonymous with understanding what you are seeing, or discerning, with your natural senses; or at least thinking that you understand properly. ‘Rah-ah’ begins with the letter ‘reysh’, the 20th letter of the Hebrew ‘aleph-beyt’ (alphabet), and represents the concept of understanding what your natural senses are detecting. The pictorial symbology of the letter ‘reysh’ is that of the head. The ‘reysh’ represents the head on our shoulders, where our brain resides. We ‘see’ throughout our entire lives with our natural senses, but rarely ever properly discern what we are beholding. Only in our understanding do we properly discern the value of what our natural senses are telling us. And only the Spirit that is Holy can provide lasting reliable understanding of what your natural senses detect. All other ‘spirits’ are deceptive, providing only confusion, doubt and fear. All other ‘spirits’, other than the Holy Spirit, produce disappointment.
And Leah may have thought that her son was to be the ‘firstborn’ of her family, the son to bare the birthright. But Leah was ‘discerning’ through a spirit of rejection and negation. Leah wanted vindication. Leah thought Reuben was her vindication. She wanted to establish her matriarchal role as mother of the firstborn. However, God apparently had other plans. Reuben does indeed mean “Behold, you, the Son”. She was correct in that declaration. However this son, Reuben, was not the Son Our Father wanted us to “Behold”. That was yet to come.
NKJ Matthew 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
…to be continued