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Wednesday, November 7 2012
A Biography Of Jacob: Stairway To Heaven
Jacob's and Esau's lifelong struggle (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Second Twin, A Biography Of Jacob: The Birthright and A Biography Of Jacob: The Blessing) culminated with Jacob's taking of the blessing that their father Isaac thought that he was giving to Esau. After hearing of Esau's threats to Jacob, their mother Rebekah sought to send Jacob away, to get both of her sons out of danger i.e. "why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?"
"27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
Rebekah then resorted to another deception; she claimed that she wanted Jacob sent back to their kinsfolk in Syria, so that Jacob wouldn't marry a Canaanite (as, later, Jacob's most famous son, Judah, would do; see Who Were The First Jews?). Isaac agreed to the request - after all, his father Abraham had done the very same when he arranged the marriage of Isaac to Rebekah herself (see Who Chose Rebekah?).
"27:46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?" (Genesis 27:46 KJV)
When Esau saw that Jacob had been sent to Syria, supposedly to find a wife, he unwittingly made his choice, for more wives (i.e. adding "unto the wives which he had"), based on the pretended concerns of Isaac and Rebekah about Canaanite women. So Esau sought a wife from another line of Abraham, that of Ishmael, through Hagar (see A Biography Of Abraham: Hagar And Ishmael) i.e. he "took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife."
"28:6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; 28:8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 28:9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife." (Genesis 28:6-9 KJV)
"This is the gate of heaven"
For whatever reason, Esau did not pursue Jacob, even though he knew where Jacob had gone i.e. "Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram." While on the long journey north to Syria, from the southernmost area of what, over four centuries later (i.e. after the Exodus from Egypt), would be known as "Israel," Jacob stopped for the night and had a dream of "a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." Although the King James Version (and other translations) use the word "ladder," the actual Hebrew word, pronounced sool-lawm, means a mound with an upward path, as in a stairway. Interestingly, the word occurs only once in the entire Holy Bible - Jacob's "stairway to heaven."
"28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 28:11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 28:13 And, behold, the LORD [see Who Is The LORD?] stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 28:15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." (Genesis 28:10-15 KJV)
When Jacob awoke, he knew that it had been more than just a dream.
"28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." (Genesis 28:16-17 KJV)
The next morning, Jacob "called the name of that place Bethel," dedicating himself to the LORD (Who, as we will read in a subsequent study in this series, would rename Jacob as "Israel" upon his return to that same area).
"28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 28:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
Although Jacob's family had settled in the area, Jacob had been born in the land of Canaan and they were "the people of the east." Some things are the same everywhere however, such as wells and flocks.
"29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 29:2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 29:3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place." (Genesis 29:1-3 KJV)
Jacob then realized that the strangers were his cousins - the family that his mother Rebekah had sent him to live with for a while.
"29:4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye?
Jacob was most particularly happy to meet his cousin Rachel, a young woman who would soon thereafter become his wife.
"29:9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them. 29:10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. 29:11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 29:12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.
Fact Finder: Did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all own large flocks and herds? Where did they get them?
This Day In History, November 7
680: The Sixth Ecumenical Council began in Constantinople. The city was named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, who created the antichrist Church of Rome and many of its anti-Biblical doctrines (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).
1492: The Ensisheim meteorite, the oldest meteorite with a known date of impact, struck the Earth in a wheat field outside the village of Ensisheim, Alsace, France.
1619: Elizabeth of Scotland and England was crowned Queen of Bohemia.
1659: The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed, ending the Franco-Spanish War of 1648-1689.
1665: The London Gazette, the oldest surviving journal, was first published.
1775: John Murray, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, started the first emancipation of slaves in North America by issuing Lord Dunmore's Offer of Emancipation. The program was stopped by the leaders of the New England revolution, most of whom were and remained slave owners through their entire lives (e.g. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were lifetime slave holders), including after proclaiming "freedom" and "all men are created equal" for themselves.
1783: The last person was publicly burned by Spanish Inquisition.
1804: Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself emperor, thus ending the First Republic of France ("emperor" is an ancient Roman term that merely means that the leader of one country declares himself the leader of other people's countries, usually by invasion; see Emperor).
1837: Elijah Lovejoy, a prominent U.S. anti-slavery publisher, was killed by a mob while attempting to defend his newspaper's press.
1867: The first Parliament of Canada opened in Ottawa. The introductory throne speech was delivered by Governor General Lord Monck to Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and his newly-elected cabinet.
1885: The "Last Spike" of the Canadian Pacific Railway completed Canada's first transcontinental national railway.
1917: British forces under Edmund Allenby defeated the Ottomans during the Third Battle of Gaza. With Beersheba already under their control, the way was then open for the British advance for the liberation of Jerusalem (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).
1917: The Bolshevik Revolution began; communists under Vladimir Lenin overthrew the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky in Petrograd.
1921: Benito Mussolini became the leader of the Italian Fascist Party.
1938: Ernst von Rath, the third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris, was murdered by 17 year-old German-Jewish refugee, Herschel Grynszpan, whose father had been among 10,000 Jews deported to Poland in boxcars shortly before; the retaliatory killing was used as an excuse by Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) to trigger the anti-Jewish "Kristallnacht" in Germany 2 days later.
1956: The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon Britain, France and Israel to withdraw their troops from Egypt.
1973: The U.S. and Egypt announced restoration of full diplomatic links for the first time since the 1967 Six Day War (see A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).
2000: The Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, one of the most contested and controversial elections in the history of the U.S.; Gore won the popular vote of millions of U.S. voters, while Bush won a U.S. Supreme Court decision of 9 judges that in effect declared Bush the winner (for which many critics claimed that the "Republicans on the Supreme Court decided the election").