1 Chronicles 5:10 (ESV)

10 And in the days of Saul they waged war against the Hagrites, who fell into their hand. And they lived in their tents throughout all the region east of Gilead.

Moving even further backward to the time of Saul (ca. 1051–1011 BC), the historian explains that Reuben’s holdings had increased and “lived to the east as far as the entrance of the desert this side of the Euphrates…in the land of Gilead" (1 Chronicles 5:9). Gilead is the area east of the Jordan River between the Arnon and Yarmuk Rivers originally settled by Gad. This northward expansion was a result of the multiplication of their livestock and subsequently the need for more pastureland. The Mosaic covenant identified abundant livestock as a divine blessing for covenant fidelity (see Deuteronomy 28:4, Deuteronomy 28:11; Deuteronomy 30:9).1 The Chronicler may be implying that Reuben was enjoying divine blessing. It was during this time that they overcame the Hagrites. All that can be known of these people from this passage (1 Chronicles 5:10, 1 Chronicles 5:19, 1 Chronicles 5:20–21) and elsewhere (1 Chronicles 27:30–31) is that they were nomads or semi-nomads who lived in Gilead in northern Transjordan. They are associated elsewhere with Ishmaelites and Moabites (Psalm 83:6).

The Chronicler mentioned this event to again show that the Reubenites had received a special blessing from God. Throughout Chronicles, victory for Israelites resulted from divine blessing. Reuben found God’s favour and accomplished a significant victory against his enemies. For this reason, too, Reuben’s descendants should be remembered, and counted among God’s postexilic people.2 The fact that they were a nomadic people may explain why Reuben was eventually absorbed by Gad.

No king, judge, or prophet ever emerged from Reuben, and the group gradually faded from Israelite tribal history.3 This is how the world would see it. But the writer will highlight and explain the Lord's purposes for his people as we go along. It may appear that the Lord has forsaken some of his people only to vanish into the land of forgetfulness, but in truth he never forsakes his people, ever.