Jacob’s Dream

Genesis 28:10-22

After receiving his parents’ blessings to go seek a wife among his mother’s relatives, Jacob leaves his home in Beersheba and heads in the direction of Haran. Along the way, he stops to rest, dreaming that night of a tall ladder reaching up to the heavens. In his dream, Jacob sees angels ascending and descending the ladder. God is atop the ladder, and He tells Jacob that He will protect him in his journey. He also reiterates His promise to Jacob — to give his descendents the land He promised to Abraham and Isaac, and to make his offspring as numerous as the dust of the earth.

 

Jacob awakens with a start, not having realized he had gone to sleep on holy ground. He identifies the place as the house of God and the gateway to heaven. In the morning, he erects a monument on the site, calling it Beit El, or House of God.  Years earlier, Abraham had also visited the same area, calling the nearby city Beit El. The Israel Bible points out that the name Beit El will become synonymous in the Bible with an ideal location for prayer.

 

Jacob vows to turn his monument into a house of worship for God and to offer Him a tenth of everything he owns if God protects him in his travels and brings him safely back to the land of his fathers.

 

The place where Jacob slept that night is none other than the future site of the First and Second Temples, known today as the Temple Mount. According to Rabbi Chaim Clorfene, cited in the Israel Bible, the Temple was known as the House of God because there, “God’s revealed presence – the shechina – dwells with His people, just as a husband dwells intimately with his wife in their home.”

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Considering that in Jacob’s dream God already promised to be with him in his journey, Jacob’s vow seems to contain an unnecessary condition that God protect him. What do you think Jacob wants from God in this vow that He may not have already promised him?

Comments ( 20 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • I think that Ja’acov saw his own life of the past and feared that if he would sin HaShem would not be any longer his G-d. So it was a kind of asking forgiveness in advancein case he went wrong. And in that case he would not forfeit the protection of HaShem.

  • "Located about ten miles north of Jerusalem near the border of Israel and Judah, Bethel was known as Luz in pre-Israelite times (Gen. 28:19). The name “Bethel” (beit el) means the "house (or place) of God." Abraham, according to Genesis 7:8, built an altar east of Bethel shortly after arriving in Canaan from Haran."
    Bethel – New World Encyclopedia
    www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bethel
    *
    Some sages seem to think the place where Jacob slept that night was literally the Temple Mount. According Chap. 28, and region maps, this is incorrect. His nighttime encounter was really about 10 miles north of Jerusalem in the town of Luz, of which he re-named "Beit El. This is also a place where the limestone is so soft one could use it as a pillow.

  • There arises a curious question in this encounter of Jacob with YHVH. Why did He appear to Jacob in a dream and not just speak with him during the daytime? I think most Spiritual people would agree that latter would be preferable. I know I would. This portion gives a hint as to why it went down as it did. After awakening from the dream, Jacob said in v. 16, "Certainly YHVH is in this place; AND I DIDN'T KNOW".
    *
    The sages say this is why Jacob had the dream. They say Elohim would rather speak to us during the day through our conscious mind, a one-on-one conversation if you will. However, some of us are so caught up in the mundane things of the world, Spiritually dull, that if Elohim walked up and tried to have a conversation, we wouldn't even know He was there. This is why He has to come to us in dreams and visions.

    • I am compelled to throw in an obvious disclaimer to the above comment. There are those who walk among us with puffed up attitudes. They go around with the feeling they are somehow special because God talked to them in a dream or vision. When they do that, they're actually saying, "I was too dumb to hear the Word of the Lord during the day". There is a passage in Proverbs that says, "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Be careful what you say. You just might be saying the opposite.

      • 🙂 Interesting analysis. You make a lot of sense on this point, we should be able to hear Yahweh speaking during the day through our conscious mind, just like Enoch (who is said to have walked with God and was not seen anymore). But for Yacob's case, he was overwhelmed with fear of Esau's threat that his conscious mind could not hear Yahweh during the day hence He spoke to him by the dream.

  • It would be silly, vain, and even futile to attempt a counting of the sand and dust. It would also be just as vain to say all these people would actually fit in the Land of Israel, even a Land the size of the area between the Nile and Euphrates. The conclusion of v. 14 clearly shows the size of the area of containment for this vast number. YHVH says, "…and you will spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. And in you and in your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed".
    *
    He's NOT talking about just this little swath of land we know as Israel. He's talking about the WHOLE earth. He's NOT talking about just the Jews. He's talking about people that first believe in Him AND THEN keep the Torah of Moshe out of love for Him, not the commandments and traditions of men.

  • After the description of the "ladder" scene, YHVH goes on in v. 13 to reiterate the same words bestowed upon Isaac and Avraham, carrying the same weight and authority as before. However, in v. 14, He says something different. With Avraham and Isaac, the promise of descendants was the "stars of the night" (about 600,000), and the "sand of the sea" (a whole lot more). YHVH now tells Jacob they'll be "as the dust of the earth". Anyone like to start counting that number? This is not a reference to a specific number. It's really referring to a number that can't be counted.

  • We are now presented with a very serious question that's begged. Jacob has just been introduced to a very real "person", a person standing next to Elohim. Just who is that person?

  • There is a curious matter in the translation of v. 13, which says, "And YHVH stood above it and said…" The English is clearly mistranslated. The Hebrew actually says, "And YHVH stood BESIDE HIM and said…" It is also obvious in this action, YHVH is not speaking to everyone in general. He's speaking directly to Jacob. In saying "beside Him", He's also not standing beside Jacob. He's standing "beside" the "LADDER". This begs a question. Why does the Hebrew refer to the ladder as a "HIM" rather than an inanimate object?

    • As an addition to the above comment, the Hebrew says there is NOT a single entity standing before Jacob. There are clearly TWO separate identities present. Of the two, it is YHVH, the Father, that speaks to Jacob.

  • In response to the dream, Jacob is said in vv. 16-17 to have been struck with fear. The fear referred to here is not that of dread. It's the fear of "awe". The nature of and objects within the dream were simply awe inspiring. Hashem certainly got his attention. For, Jacob said, "Certainly, YHVH is in this place".

  • Jacob doesn't submit an "unnecessary" request. Certainly, the blessing given to his father and grandfather, and to him in a dream, carried the obvious condition of "protection". Yet, in Jacob's mind, his very human fears demanded a little extra conformation. After all, he had a "gun to his head", as we might say it. He was relatively safe now. Yet, that's only because he left home "on the run". Jacob might have been thinking, "if Esau chases me, I'm in trouble. If I run into Esau later, I'm in trouble."

    • I have heard it said, "Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all I have to go on". I believe this little truth is at the heart of Jacob's entire dialogue with Hashem. He was given the same promise given to his father and grandfather. Yet, that was in the past. The promises given described a future string of generations. However, neither had any substance or benefit for him TODAY.
      *
      Moshe has articulately described the state of mind with Jacob. In so doing, he succinctly pictured the state of mind of all future generations. Our focus is wrong. We readily ascend mentally to what Hashem has done in the past. We eagerly look forward to the promises of the future. Yet, we seem to have a hard time directing our thoughts to what He can do for us TODAY. I think it's really neat when we let the Torah of Moshe speak for itself.

      • Thank you Danny and SueJean. An important lesson to the question asked and the answers you have so far given is that strength for TODAY cannot be undermined; we constantly need this strength and little wonder Yacob asked for it. We constantly need strength for today despite Yahweh's wonders (miracles/assurance) in the past and promises for the future. We have been told to pray without ceasing and I think this caution is because our flesh is often weak.

    • I agree with you. I've always been taught that Elohim welcomes our prayers anytime. Whenever we're faced with a challenge or situation that could go badly, I believe that our prayers do as much for our own level of confidence as they do to bring us to a place of peace that helps us to receive HIS divine guidance.
      Baruch Hashem.

  • There a couple points that need to be cleared up. Jacob was NOT a deceiver. Esau was the real deceiver. He sold his birthright and did a good job of covering it up. Jacob, at the behest of Rebekah, did what was necessary to fulfill the prophesy Elohim gave to Rebekah. Jacob also was NOT sheltered. The term, "dwelt in tents", doesn't mean he was a "mama's boy". It means he was a very busy man, carrying out his responsibilities to his family and community.

  • As his father Yitzak had discovered in his own lifetime, when a man strikes out on his own, he must establish his own relationship with Elohim. It's not enough to go out in the shadow of your father's relationship. Without a personal relationship based on his own experiences and interactions with the Creator of the Universe, Ya'acov has no real working faith to call upon in times of trouble.
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    Having left his parent's house with the threat of his brother to kill him hanging over him would put "protection" at the center of his concerns. He's wise to bring this matter before Elohim. He's always been told that his needs would be met. Now was the time to put those promises to the test. I think that he wants to see Elohim's hand at work.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • I agree with you. Leaving the protection of his father's house, his covering, I too would have asked for protection.

  • Jesse

    I think it has more to do with Jacob calling on that promise that was given to him. He’s been sheltered his whole life in the tents of his family. Now he’s leaving all of that behind and there’s an uncertain future waiting for him. He wants to be assured that he’ll somehow make it through this trial he considers in this particular moment.

  • Sheila

    Jacob was the third generation to receive the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant not because he was righteous but because of God’s call and faithfulness to Abraham. This was possibly the first time that Jacob heard the voice of God —- and I sense that Jacob really needed to be reassured of the Lord’s protection as he really feared for his life because of his deceit and Esau’s threats. However the grace and mercy of the Lord was released to Jacob in this encounter and In faith and gratitude he honoured the Lord with a memorial stone (worship) and the act of tithing(gratitude).

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