It is amazing how rich every Torah portion can be! This week is no exception as we dive right in to the story of what many people refer to as “Jacob’s Ladder” or “Jacob’s Dream.” Last weeks portion informs us that Jacob is fleeing from his brothers murderous intentions while also on a mission from his mother to find a wife. In the midst of the craziness of this whole predicament, Jacob with his head spinning, finds himself walking away from home, “…from Beersheba toward Haran.”
Now that our scene is set, we can move into the actual events of Jacob’s incredible story, because the reality is, Jacob is about to have an “out-of-this-world” experience, that will change his life forever!
Back to the story, “So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night…” Now I don’t have time to get into the details. But though the location of where this dream actually happened is disputed, the Rabbis have traditionally agreed that this dream, ladder, and Jacob are all somehow connected to the site of the future Temple Mount.
In Hebrew, it tells us that Jacob came to HaMakom = the place.” Later in the same verse it tells us that he lay down “BaMakom = in the place”
throughout the Bible is a word that is consistently used to refer to the Temple Mount. Remember, when Jacob awakes he states, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Here again we read that Jacob says, “Ma Nora HaMakom = How awesome is the place.”
Interestingly enough, “HaMakom” does not only refer to the Temple Mount, but is also known as one of the names of God. Exodus 33 gives the story of Moses asking to see God’s glory. When God is telling Moses that he will be hidden in the cleft of the rock at Sinai, he uses the phrase, “Hineh, MaKom Eetee = Behold, there is a place with me” (Exodus 33:21)
“Moses descends from Mount Sinai.”
By Phillip Medhurst
What we learn from this verse is that God is “the place.” He is the beginning and final destination. Everything is in Him, through Him and by Him. He is the purpose of the Temple Mount. Without Him, what worth is the Temple Mount? The reason this mountain is so special is because it is the place where heaven and earth meet. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself!
Jacob stops in the place “…because the sun had set.” Rashi makes an interesting comment on this verse. He writes, “It should have written, ‘The sun set and he tarried there all night,’ but the words ‘he tarried there all night because the sun set,’ imply that the sun set unexpectedly — not at its proper time — just in order that he should tarry there over night).”
This was a God ordained event that was about to take place. Remember, in ancient times it wasn’t a good idea to travel alone, and it was especially not a good idea to sleep out in the wild during the night. The Land of Canaan during this time still had Lions and Bears roaming the woods. (See, 1 Samuel 17:34-36, 2 Samuel 23:20, 2 Kings 23-24)
In later verses it tells us that there was a town named Luz close by. Jacob had probably planned it out perfectly to arrive at the town just before sunset, but God had other plans. Here is a side lesson we can learn. When we have everything planned the way we think the story is supposed to play out and are suddenly caught in the dark with the sun set and the beasts lurking, remember the story of Jacob. There may just be a “God-moment” right around the corner.
Jacob “…took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head.”
But these weren’t just any stones… Anytime you hear of a stone or stones mentioned in the Bible, listen up!
Chizkuni writes, “According to tradition these stones had been part of the altar on which his father Yitzchok (Isaac) had been bound on the occasion of the Akeydah.” (The binding of Isaac)
The place Jacob was laying, on the same stones of that place, was the spot some 100 years earlier his father had lain as an offering to God.
At this point Jacob was probably exhausted from his travels “…and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed…”
Have you ever had a dream from God? Unfortunately, they can sometimes be very easy to forget and to carry on with life. This is why I have begun to “dream journal.” I have learned a lot about myself, my inner-conscience, my true feelings and my views concerning people, the world and life in general. Obviously, when you resolve to write down everything, there can be some embarrassing or disturbing dreams to deal with.
This is why it is so important to pray before bedtime.
For example, the Jewish people pray, “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who casts the bonds of sleep upon my eyes and slumber upon my eyelids…may my ideas, bad dreams, and bad notions not confound me…Lay us down to sleep in peace, Lord, our God; raise us erect, our King, to life, and spread over us the shelter of Your peace…We have no King but You!” (This is a very-very shortened version from the collection of prayers said)
I write down my dreams to remember the treasures that I used to miss. God sends hidden messages even in the craziest dreams and I want to remember them! The dream of Jacob however, was not the kind of dream you wake up from and forget! His was a dream that connected heaven and earth, man and God, the finite with the Infinite.
“Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”
“Jacob’s Dream”
By William Blake (1757-1827)
In Hebrew the word for ladder is “Sulam.” It is on this verse and specifically this word that I want to focus on for the rest of this observation.
In the dream we read that upon this ladder the angels of God were ascending and descending. Here is where it gets interesting. In John 1:51 Yeshua tells Nathaniel, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Yeshua is making a claim here. That He is the “Sulam = Ladder” that Jacob saw the Angels of God ascending and descending upon. The ladder represented a connection between this physical realm and the heavenly infinity above. He is the only one that can break the boundaries between heaven and earth. Isn’t this why Yeshua came?
In the book, The Beginning of Wisdom 8:1 (A book on Kabbalah) we read this statement, “There are two general stages in time. This World-the Olam HaZeh and the World to come-the Olam HaBa.” Yeshua is the “Sulam —Ladder” uniting the Olam HaZeh and the Olam HaBa. In and through Him alone does the holy process of reunification between the olam hazeh and the olam haba come about.
Yeshua came to restore and “bridge-the-gap” between God and mankind. This is why Yeshua was hung on a cross. It wasn’t just about dying the worst death humanly imaginable for our sin; it was an actual telling representation of His very purpose here on earth. That through Him suspended between heaven and earth, these two seemingly opposite realities (heaven and earth) could once again be united and become one.This was Jacob’s dream and his ladder.
The dream was about the reunification between these “two realms.”
The ladder was a representation of how these two realms were to become connected. And that is what we experience today; a connection between heaven and earth, because of the work of Yeshua, who became the only ladder for us to be reconciled to God.
In the Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 98b we read of a discussion between the Rabbis concerning the name of Messiah, “What is his name? The school of Rabbi Sheila says: Shiloh is his name, as it is stated: ‘Until when Shiloh shall come’ (Genesis 49:10). The school of Rabbi Yannai says: Yinnon is his name, as it is stated: ‘May his name endure forever; may his name continue [yinnon] as long as the sun; …’ (Psalms 72:17). The school of Rabbi ?anina says: ?anina is his name, as it is stated: ‘For I will show you no favor [?anina]’ (Jeremiah 16:13). And some say that Mena?em ben ?izkiyya is his name, as it is stated: ‘Because the comforter [mena?em] that should relieve my soul is far from me’ (Lamentations 1:16)…”
Every school had the name they held appropriate for the title of the Messiah. What is interesting is, the Vilna Gaon recognized all four of these names as the correct name of the Messiah because the initials of Menachem, Shilo, Yinnon, and Haninah make up the word Mashiach—Messiah.
The Messiah goes by many names, each one relating to us His character in a different way. This week, let us recognize His title as “HaSulam—The Ladder” that was stretched out between heaven and earth to reconcile all things to Himself. (Colossians 1)
Ascend the ladder of God and invite others to this “dream-that-is-more-than-just-a-dream!” It’s a living, life-changing reality!
Shabbat Shalom,

For more about this Torah Portion please go to”The Caleb Waller Show” on Facebook and look for the Torah Tuesday show titled “VaYetze” where we talk much more in detail about these amazing stories!

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