(Reouven) probably has got something to do with the Hebrew verb “ra-ah” (Resh – Aleph – He), “to see”. His mother Leah
does not say “Behold, a son”, although his names does sound like “re’u Ven” (or Ben
, which is the Hebrew word for “son”). The name also sounds like “ra’a be’onyi” (“be” means “at” and “onyi” is “my trouble”, as Rachel
does say: “The Lord has seen my trouble …” so she named him Ruben
. M.Noth gives yet another explanation from an Arabic parallel: “restore” (i.e. the number of children by giving a substitute for a child that has died), but this seems quite uncertain.
The name REUEL
(Resh – Ayin – Lamed) often appears as REGUEL (it does in all German
bibles, as far as I can see), and this is possibly due to the fact that the letter Ayin is interchangeable with Gimel in Aramaic (Gomorra appears as Amorra, but the Aramaic course I took was 20 years back, so don’t quote me on this; but I know that the name appears as Ragouel in the Greek Septuagint and as Rauhel in the Latin Vulgata). As verbal roots there are “ra-ah” (Resh-Ayin-He – “to give pasture” or “to make friends” in a certain grammatical form) and “ra-a’” (Resh-Ayin-Ayin – “to be evil”). The latter doesn’t make much sense, so the most probable translation would be “friend of God”