Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Reuben

Reuben is a Hebrew name borne from the Bible. In the book of Genesis, Rueben is the eldest son of Jacob and Leah, and the first born of Jacob’s twelve sons. As the less-favored of Jacob’s wife, God took pity on Leah and made her quite fertile. Poor Rachel, the favored wife of Jacob, was made barren (at least for a while). Apparently, God was a little spiteful that way – or else He was just trying to even the playing field. “And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”’ [Genesis 29:32]. The Hebrew name Rəʾuven means “behold, a son” – which is what Leah would have called out in her great happiness over giving Jacob a son. At the time of Jacob’s death, as he is preparing to bless his sons, we expect Reuben, as was the custom with firstborn sons, to get most of the booty – not so. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the first fruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.” [Genesis 49:3]. Sounds good for Reuben so far, but wait; Jacob pulls a fast one on his oldest son. No blessing for you Reuben. Neener, neener, neener. Jacob refuses to bless Reuben because his oldest son “defiled” his father’s bed by sleeping with one of Jacob’s concubines while his father was out of town. Reuben’s birthright blessing was given to Joseph instead. Despite this poor lapse in judgment on Reuben’s part, he still held a prominent position among Jews as one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the one brother who tried to spare Joseph when the others wanted to kill him. Nonconformist Christians also adopted the name Reuben for themselves around the Reformation. It has survived among English speakers since the 17th century.

All About the Baby Name – Reuben

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME REUBEN

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME REUBEN

Reuben is another example of an old-fashioned name that has slowly gone out of style. Unlike other Biblical names, Reuben is not experiencing a revival of interest. Although Reuben has never achieved Top 100 status, the height of his popularity came in the late 19th century and early 20th. His best year ever was 1880 when he reached position #149 on the Top 1000 list. As the decade progressed into the 1900s, Reuben slowly dropped on the charts, averaging about 100 positions per decade. While the name showed modest improvements in the 1970s, for the most part Reuben has heading backwards. In 2010 Reuben looked like his days were numbered when he held position #999 on the list, but he’s not quite ready to say good bye yet. Still hanging in there, old Reuben’s days many be numbered. They disagree in New Zealand and Great Britain where this name does a lot better (even in Canada and Australia). Here’s a fun fact: the real first name of the character Rooster Cogburn (made famous by John Wayne in the movie “True Grit”) was Reuben. We know, we know. There’s no way around the name’s association of the popular Reuben sandwich (made with corned beef/pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing) – but so what? Reuben is now so uncool he’s cool. It sounds darling on a little boy and ages well into adulthood. The name can easily be shortened to the ever-popular Ben. Behold! It’s Reuben!

Quick Facts

ON REUBEN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Hebrew

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

898

PRONUNCIATION:

ROO-bən

SIMPLE MEANING:

Behold, a son!

Characteristics

OF REUBEN

Inspirational

Highly Intuitive

Spiritual Teacher

Extremely Bright

Uplifting

Truth-seeker

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Reuben

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME REUBEN

Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn is the protagonist of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel, True Grit, made into an award winning movie by the same name in 1968 and a sequel in 1975, Rooster Cogburn, both starring John Wayne. The Coen brothers directed a remake in 2010, starring Jeff Bridges. Reuben is a Civil War veteran, a U. S. Marshall, a drunk, a loner, a has-been and – most of all – a big guy with a big heart that shines through in spite of his best efforts. It matters little what the plot is that drives the action; the important thing is that this is a man who lives by a code as old as humanity – doing the right thing.

Popular Songs

ON REUBEN

Sinking of the Reuben James
a song by Woody Guthrie

Reuben James
a song by Kingston Trio

Reuben
a song by Flatt and Scruggs

Reuben and Rachel
an old children's song by Birch & Gooch

Famous People

NAMED REUBEN

Reuben Fine (Chess Grandmaster)
Reuben Morgan (Australian Christian singer/songwriter)
Reuben Fenton (19th century politician)
Reuben Droughns (football player/coach)
Reuben Gant (football player)
Reuben Tam (artist)

Children of Famous People

NAMED REUBEN

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Reuben

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME REUBEN

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Reuben