Comparison of Characteristics The patriarch Jacob, just before his death, called his sons together to reveal to them what would become of their descendants in the course of time.
This key prophecy is found in Genesis, chapter 49. It is renewed later, with some additions, by the mouth of Moses, Deuteronomy 33. Without this prophecy, it would be impossible for us to determine the exact identity of each tribe, after its dispersion.
More than this, the Bible reveals to us that each of the twelve tribes have inherited the principal traits of character of the son of Israel whose name it bears. Consequently, it is possible for us to establish the general character of Reuben, whose descendants later were known under the name Gauls!
The Character and Personality of Reuben According to Biblical chronology, Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, was born about 1771 B.C. Of character ardent, impetuous, generous, and intelligent, this firstborn of Jacob played a predominant role in the history of the Israelites, as the Gauls played a role in the foreground of that of the Celtic peoples.
Reuben was also guilty with his brothers when the ruin of Joseph was plotted; but the plan he made to preserve the life of their young brother, proves the courage and the intelligence of Reuben. As a compromise, he succeeded in convincing his other brothers to throw Joseph into a dry cistern in the desert (Genesis 37:22), instead of shedding blood.
Reuben loved his own and others; this was easily shown when he volunteered to assume, according to the promise he made to his father (Genesis 42:37), the load of responsibility to restore Benjamin to him.
Of course, as all men, Reuben also had his weaknesses and faults. Above all, he lacked modesty, the Bible tells us! The impetuosity of his character and the lightness of his moral conduct caused him to lose his birthright (I Chronicles 5:1), because he "went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine," Genesis 35:22.
In spite of the considerable consequences which resulted, the loss of the birthright did not forever involve the total retraction of blessings that Jacob had given to his oldest son: "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defilest thou it: he went up to my couch," Genesis 49:3-4.
Thus the descendants of Reuben, conforming to this prophecy, lost their pre-eminence in the course of history, but kept even so — and have kept through the ages — their superiority in dignity and power.
As for their principal occupation, the sons of Reuben, all made excellent soldiers, and were good in agriculture. They had a considerable quantity of flocks (Numbers 32:1) and lived in a territory rich in pastures, east of the Jordan. Of independent and imaginative spirit (this trait of character was moreover quite pronounced among the Gauls!), they were hard workers, ready to fight for their rights, even when they were wrong!
Concerned about the comforts of life, the Reubenites possessed both a goodly amount of foresight and of vanity, as we see in the ensemble of the historic pieces of the Bible concerning the Reubenites. There again, we can't help but compare them to the French whose character, as says Jean de la Bruyers, "takes itself seriously" (Encyclopedie des Citations, No. 105).
All things considered, conforming to the predictions of Jacob, the Reubenites were, among the other tribes of Israel, a group superior in dignity and superior in power.
The Collective Personality and Character of the French It is very difficult to make a judgment on the collective character of a large and an old nation, such as France.
Not less than other nations, the French did not keep the purity of their race. This resulted through incessant wars through the ages, or from the fact of invasions and crossbreedings with the natives and immigrants of different races. The French nation today is composed, as are all nations, of a society more or less cosmopolitan. Nevertheless, France retains a remarkable homogeneity.
In spite of the infiltration of diverse elements, greatly complicated and amalgamated, we state that France, from an ethnological point of view, is divided primarily in two distinct parts: those of the north and south — in other words, the Celts and the Greeks (La Gaule et les Gaulois, Zeller, p. 10).
The Celts, in coming from the east and the northeast, emigrated to the country around 600 B.C., and descended little by little toward the area of Marseille, where Greek colonies were established.
Later, most of the Greek colonies left the country under the name Gauls (a name given to the inhabitants of Gaul), to settle in Galatia, toward the year 280 B.C. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul treated them as "gentiles" (that is to say non-Israelites) in the Epistle he addressed to them. Called "Galatians" or "Gauls," they were in reality of Greek origin, thus "gentiles."
These Galatians of Asia Minor, we repeat, were not Israelites. Even though certain of them, through intermarriage with the Gauls, had a little Israelite blood in their veins, the Galatians, as a whole, were a Greek people. This fact is not only confirmed in the Bible, but also by historical facts.
Paul was not the Apostle to the Israelites, but the "Apostle to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27, 21:18-19; Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:2,7, 8; Ephesians 3:1, 8, etc.) and, in his Epistle to the Galatians, he addressed himself to them as "Gentiles" or as "Greeks" — non-Israelites. He speaks to them of his "conduct in Judaism" and of the traditions of his ancestors, and not of those of the Galatians (Galatians 1:14). In fact, the entire Epistle was written to assure them they had no need of circumcision to inherit the promises (Galatians 5:2, 6:12). If these Galatians had been Israelites, that instruction would not have been necessary.
It is known that the Galatians, spiritually speaking, belong to "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). "If you are Christ's, you are then of the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
After this migration, the few Greeks who remained in the south of Gaul disappeared through the ages, due to multiple causes and to the fact of interbreeding with the Celts. Thus, France today still has its national homogeneity. The true ancestors of the French were the Gauls who are Israelites! It was because of this fact that Paul, "Apostle to the Gentiles," projected a voyage to Spain (Romans 15:24-28) — a non-Israelite country, thus "gentile" — avoiding France (Gaul). The conversion of the Israelites was committed to other Apostles, not to Paul.
We will try now to outline, very briefly, some of the collective traits of character of the French, such as the ethnologists and historians present to us, to establish a base of comparison between the collective character of the French and Reubenites which we have just examined.
However, instead of referring to the various works published on the subject, we will use only excerpts from the "Nouvelle Geography Universelle," the monumental work of Elisee Reclus, in which the celebrated French geographer summarizes marvelously even the principal ideas of diverse authors.
Before the rapid industrial development which characterizes our Twentieth Century, and which is totally changing the aspect of France, the majority of the population was composed of agriculturists and craftsmen. The French represent a hard-working and ingenious people.
"In spite of... the extreme difficulties," writes Elisee Reclus, "the peasant owner of his field has made the country one of the most productive on the earth" (Book II, Article: "France").
The famous geographer states that the French can express their sentiments and ideas better than other peoples:
"The French... have the special virtue of sociability... a natural sentiment of benevolence toward their fellow men, a spirit of equity guides them in their relations with all; they charm by their thoughtfulness.... They like to please by dress and manners.... They excel in the art of good conversation, and makes his point without discrediting others" (op. cit.).
These traits of character are specific to the Gauls and, before them, to the Israelites, especially to the descendants of Reuben, as we have seen at the first of this chapter.
As for the faults and weaknesses of the French, there again they find their echo in the Reubenites. In fact, the description of their character and personality could easily apply to Reuben.
Here is what Elisee Reclus says on the subject of the faults and weaknesses of the French:
"Able to be sociable 'par excellence,' he often tries to be 'everything to everyone' and thus loses his own value.... Talking easily with everyone, he risks being superficial in his judgments.... Respectful to sentiment in general... man of society or diversion, he doesn't always have the courage to remain himself" (op. cit.).
One must recognize, in these traits of character, the affable Reuben, intelligent and impetuous, who lost his birthright because of his lightness of sentiment and his love of gaity.
Of course, if the French culture has kept its superiority, the French must not attribute it to their own merits alone. Even if they have been "the arbiters of literature, and in certain domains of art, their superiority remains uncontested" (op. Cit.), the merit is not due to their own talents: they could not be otherwise, since divine prophecy, pronounced from the mouth of the patriarch Jacob, must come to pass. Reuben must retain his "superiority in dignity and power."