“Let Reuben live and not die.” This is from Deuteronomy 33:6. This chapter is Moses blessings over the twelve tribes of Israel. The other quotation: “Unstable as water” is from the 49th chapter of Genesis, which contains the dying Jacob’s blessings over his twelve sons, the progenitors of the tribes. In his prophecy over Reuben, Jacob went on to recount Reuben’s sexual encounter with Jacob’s concubine, Bilha.
The bowl is 16 inches in diameter and 5 inches high. The English translation corresponds to the Hebrew text. The design element in the center is turbulent water, and on the sides of the bowl are shown two mandrakes, a plant traditionally used as a symbol for the tribe of Reuben (Genesis 30:14).