Jacob's Ladder (Bible)

From Academic Kids

Jacob's Ladder refers to a ladder to heaven which Jacob saw while fleeing his brother Esau:

Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it [or "beside him"] and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you." Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

(Gen 28.10-17)

Jacob then named the place Bethel (literally, "House of God". "El" is one short form of "Elohim"). The name "House of God" and the term "gate of heaven" are suggestive of the metaphor of the temple as the earthly abode of a deity; this is reinforced by the image in Jacob's dream of a ladder between heaven and earth which the angels of God and (according to the "beside him" reading of the text) God himself use to come down to earth.


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