Jacob’s Ladder

The story of Jacob’s ladder is probably one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible in the context of gematrical systems applied to a relatively simple text.

The Story

Let us analyse the story carefully.

Jacob reaches a place and puts stones from that place under his head as a pillow and falls asleep: And he dreams that a ladder is set up on the earth and the top of it reaches to heaven and angels of God are ascending and descending upon it (Genesis 28:12). Then he hears the voice of God that tells him: that the land whereupon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as 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 thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 28:13-14).

Upon awaking and remembering his dream: And Jacob rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put for his pillow and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-El (the house of God): but the name of the city was called Luz at first (Genesis 28:18-19).

Then shall this stone, which I have set for a pillar, be God’s house: and of that thou shalt give me I will surely give one tenth unto thee (Genesis 28:22).

The importance of the ‘stone’ repeats itself in a strange incident just after the story of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, where a stone is covering a well, preventing flocks to be watered. When Rachel arrives Jacob removes the stone and greets Rachel with a kiss. This scene sets the seed resulting in the marriage of Jacob to Rachel and to her sister Leah following which the twelve sons, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, are born.

And he looked, and saw a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for from that well they watered the flocks; and a great stone was upon the well's mouth: Genesis 29:2

The Interpretation

Jacob’s dream concerns the bond between Heaven and Earth, God and Man and foretells his role in the future of the Hebrew race in the generations to come and in fact in the whole of humanity.

The Stone

The stones of that place which Jacob takes as a pillow represent the foundation stones upon which not only the tribe of Jacob will be built but the entire future generations of Jacob (the children of Israel). For the word for stone in Hebrew is ‘Even’, spelt: aleph-beth-nun אבן and comprises two words ‘Av’ אב (aleph-beth) meaning father and ‘Ben’ בן (beth-nun) meaning son. Hence the development of the generations of Jacob will be based upon the son following the father, generation after generation, following in his footsteps and learning his ways and the word of God. The lesson we learn from this is that the process of learning, development and evolution is not only based upon that of the individual but rather process of the society as a whole based upon the family unit and from generation to generation. So with each generation the Children of Israel evolve and develop as an entire race of people and not only as individuals.

Similarly the numerical structure of the word ‘Even’ אבן is 1-2-50 indicating that from the ‘one’, which is God, creator of the universe, emanates the ‘two’ which is the male and the female, the duality of the universe at the time of creation, which leads to the ’50‘, meaning return, rebirth and completion of a cycle and progress to the next world. So the ‘Even’ is the foundation stone upon which the Dynasty of Jacob proceeds.

The removal of the stone from the mouth of the well upon meeting Rachel in order to water the flocks symbolises fertility, represented by ‘water’ which will give rise to the flocks of the nation of Israel that will rise from Rachel and her sister Leah’s womb and the loins of Jacob.

The Ladder, heaven and earth

The image of the ladder stretching between heaven and earth symbolises the conjoining of heaven and earth and intrinsically is the same form as the letter aleph, א, (See hyperlink aleph) comprising two yods linked by a vav, where God in Heaven above and the God on Earth below is represented in the two yods, and the vav, symbolising a ‘hook’ in Hebrew, is the ladder in Jacob’s dream linking heaven and earth together. The ladder or hook binds Heaven and Earth together and the angels going up and down the ladder represent the flow of energies between Heaven and Earth and where Heaven comes down to Earth and Earth goes upwards towards Heaven. It is similar in concept as hexagram 64 ‘Before Completion’ in the book of the ‘I Ching’. (see external Hyperlink ichard Wilhelm – the I Ching, the Book of Change)

This is further expressed in the concept of ‘The Ladder’ which is ‘sulam’ in Hebrew, spelt samech-lamed-mem סלם (60-30-40). It has a value of 130 and is a decane higher than the number 13 which is half of the gematrical value for God YHVH יהוה It is for the same reason the 13 attributes of God are said everything in the morning prayers. 13 is also the gematrical value of ‘one’ pronounced ‘achad’ in Hebrew אחד = 1-8-4 =13 and again is related to the oneness of God (See hyperlink aleph head of the bull, name of God yin and yang).

Furthermore, 130 is also the value for Sinai סיני (samech-yod-nun-yod = 60-10-50-10) which is the second and next occasion in the Pentateuch in which Heaven meets Earth and God meets man. Hence, on this occasion when God sets the foundation stone for the evolution of the Hebrew race, on the next occasion He provides the Torah, The Ten Commandments, which descend from heaven to earth as The Law for all time. So here we see the image of Heaven and Earth being pulled together and effectively the qualities of God descend upon the Earth. The incident of Jacob’s ladder is the first time that it happens and where God promises that Jacob’s seed will be like the stars in Heaven and the dust of the Earth.

The value 130 reappears in the form of a drink offering following ‘The Dinah Incident’ (Genesis 34:1-31) which presents an interesting interlude (See The Dina Incident). Here Jacob prepares to make a drink offering at Beth El where he had previously set up a pillar and altar to God after his dream of ‘Jacob’s Ladder.

And so Jacob came to Luz, which is in the Land of Canaan, which is Beth El, he and all the people with him (Genesis 35:6).

And again Jacob sets up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon and he poured oil thereon. (Genesis 35:14).

The event takes place just prior to the fearful encounter of Jacob with Esau where Jacob is afraid for his life (See hyperlink Jacob’s encounter with Esau). Here again we see a re-enactment of the process of setting up the altar again in Story of Jacob’s Ladder. However in this instance a drink offering is also made. ‘Drink offering’ in Hebrew is Nisach spelt נסכ nun-samach-caph = 50-60-20 =130. This is the same value as that of ladder = sulam and the same value as for Sinai. Hence Jacob’s presentation of a drink offering, nisach (with its value of 130 a decane above 13 is in order that he may re-affirm God’s commitment to Jacob that He will make him a great nation and therefore as a reminder to God to preserve his life.

The Altar, Beth El and Luz

When Jacob awakes from his dream he takes the stone upon which he had slept and uses it to set up a pillar and pours oil on it. The stone represents both the generations that will issue from his loins and also symbolises the Earth that was seen in his dream.

The oil ‘Shemen’ spelt Shin-mem-nun שמנ has a numerical value of (300-40-50=390) and is the same value as that for Heaven Shemayim in Hebrew spelt Shin-mem-yod-mem שמימ (300-40-10-40=390). Oil, shemen, is related to the word Shemoneh שמנה meaning ‘eight’ and which carries the same root letters Shin-mem-nun שמנ The importance of 8 is indicated in (See hyperlink Oil, heaven and 8).

The stone, Even, is spelt aleph-beth-nun אבנ and has a value of: 1-2-50=53.

Hence oil (Shemen) + Stone (Even) = 390+53 = 443.

This is the same value as the name Beth El, spelt Beth-taf-aleph-lamed, בתאל (2-400-1-30=443), that Jacob gave to the place where he erected the altar, meaning House of God and is

We note that the former name of the place was Luz, spelt lamed-vav-zayin, לז which has a value of 30-6-7=43. Hence Beth El subtracted from Luz gives the value of 443-43 = 400.

As we know from previously 400 is the highest spiritual level that man can reach in this earthly life (See hyperlink 400). So through the multiplication of the generations of Jacob in the Land of Canaan, following the word of God and by teaching from father to son, Jacob and his seed will reach the level of 400 which is the highest spiritual level that can be reached in this phenomenal world.

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