Was Reuben an Oedipal Winner? Fathers and Sons: Jacob and Reuben
In this paper, our focal points are the biblical scenarios in which Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son, acts in a way that indicates that unresolved Oedipal issues are very much alive in his adult psychic life. The story of Reuben highlights that winning the Oedipal war may cause a lifetime of complication and developmental paralysis. In Reuben’s case, his position as the leader of the Twelve Tribes by virtue of his firstborn status is seriously damaged. This wound seems to affect not only him, but also his descendants for a considerable period of Jewish history.
Through the application of psychological theory, along with an exegesis of biblical sources and commentaries, we try to understand the psychological dynamics underlying Reuben’s behavior, and his own attempts to resolve this unfortunate and painful dynamic.