Jacob's Ladder (or Jacob's Dream)
This Bible story begins as Jacob is sent away from the Promised Land of Canaan by his mother Rebekah when she learns of Esau's intent to kill his brother. Esau is resentful of Jacob's blessing from their father, Isaac, and plans to murder him as vengeance. In addition to avoiding Esau's wrath, Jacob is sent away to find a wife in the land of Haran to propagate the lineage of Abraham.
As Jacob flees from Esau on his way to Haran, he comes to a "certain place" and lays down to rest for the evening as the sun is setting. He then dreams of a magnificent ladder that is set up on earth and reaches to heaven on top. Jacob witnesses angels traveling up and down the ladder making their way to earth and back to heaven. He then sees the Lord standing above, who says to Jacob "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 your offspring." God tells Jacob that his offspring shall spread across the world and that "in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed." God informs Jacob he will stay with him wherever he goes and will eventually bring him back to the land where he is having the dream. Jacobs awakes and proclaims "How awesome is this land! this is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven." Jacob would rename that land "Bethel" meaning the house of God.
Meaning of Jacob's Ladder
The significance of the ladder and dream has been argued, but most accounts recognize that it distinguished Jacob with the responsibilities and heritage of the ethnic people chosen by God, as known in Abrahamic religions. The ladder signifies the divine connection between God and the earthly realm, specifically Jacob's family. The dream's significance was to remind Jacob he had received God's graces and encourage him to fulfill the destiny of his people. Jacob makes a vow afterward saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear so that I come again to my father's house in peace, the Lord shall be my God." (Genesis 28:20-21)
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