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Jacob's dream at Bethel

Genesis 28:12-13

12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

Full bible text

Genesis 28:10-17
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.
11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 
15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

About this painting

The conflict with his brother Esau compels Jacob to flee from home. His parents send him to Harran. His father tells him to marry there one of the daughters of his uncle Laban. Before Jacob leaves Isaac blesses him with the blessing of Abraham.


Passing the night in the field on his way to Harran, Jacob dreams. In this dream God reveals Himself to Jacob as the God of Abraham and Isaac, and confirms the blessing his father Isaac blessed him with.  Jacob sees a ladder on which angels of God ascend and descend. Above it stood the Lord, speaking to him.
In the New Testament we find a striking parallel:
In John 1:51 Jesus says: “Very truly I tell you,[i] you[j] will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[k] the Son of Man.”Thus Jesus indicates that through Him a continuous communication with heaven will be established. Jesus Himself claims to be ‘the gate of heaven’

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