While on his way, Jacob stopped in a field to pass the
night. He placed a stone under his head and went to sleep. He beheld in his
sleep a ladder standing on the earth, with its top touching the heavens. The
angels of God were ascending and descending on it, and at the top of the ladder
stood the Lord Himself.
The Lord said to Jacob, "I am the Lord God of
Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give the land whereon thou liest to thee,
and to thy seed. Thy seed shall be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and in
thy seed shall all the peoples of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I
am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and bring
thee again into this land."
Here, by the term "seed" or
"offspring," through which all peoples shall be blessed and granted
happiness, is meant the Saviour. The ladder, then, which joins
Heaven and earth, prefigured the Mother of God, through Whom the Son of
God, being born of Her, came to earth for the salvation of man. The Mother of
God, like that ladder, joined Heaven to earth.
On awakening Jacob said, "How awesome is this
place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of
Heaven." The stone on which he had slept, he set up as a monument and
poured oil upon it as a sacrifice to God. He called this place, Bethel,
which means "house of God." After this, with hope in Godís
help, he calmly continued his journey into Mesopotamia.
Jacob came into Haran to Laban, his uncle. Jacob
told Laban about everything and remained to live and work for Laban. Laban
asked Jacob what pay he wanted for his work. Jacob agreed to work for Laban
seven years for his daughter, Rachel, in order to marry her, as he had
fallen in love with her. But Laban cunningly gave Jacob not Rachel for a wife
but his elder daughter, Leah, justifying himself by the local tradition that
the younger daughter could not be married before the elder.
Then the deceived Jacob agreed to work another
seven years for Rachel. After twenty years Jacob safely returned to his father
in the land of Canaan with a large family and many possessions. Esau, who had
not seen his brother for a long time, joyfully met Jacob on the way. The Lord,
in special, mystical circumstances, tested the strength of Jacob and gave him a
new name, Israel, which means "contender with God." Thus, Jacob
became the founder of the people of Israel, that is, the Hebrews.
Genesis, chap. 28:10-22; chaps. 29-35.
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