Jacob's Wonderful Dream

Genesis 27:46 - 30:24

After Esau found that he had lost his birthright and his blessing, he was very angry with his brother Jacob.  He said, "My father Isaac is very old.  He probably will not live much longer.  As soon as he is dead, I am going to kill Jacob, because he has robbed me of my birthright.

When Rebekah heard this, she said to Jacob, "You must leave home before it is too late.  Get out of Esau's sight.  Maybe when he does not see you any longer, he will forget his anger.  Then you can come home again.  Go and visit my brother Laban in Haran.  Stay with him for awhile until Esau's temper has cooled down."

So Jacob left Beersheba and walked alone to a land far to the north, carrying his staff in his hand.  One evening, just about sunset, he came to a place among the mountains, more than sixty miles from his home.  He had no bed to lie down on, so he found a stone and used it for a pillow.  Then he lay down to sleep.

While he slept, Jacob had a wonderful dream.  In the dream, he saw stairs leading up to heaven from the earth where he lay.  Angels were coming down and going up the stairs.  Above the stairs, he saw the Lord God standing!

God said to Jacob, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac your father; and I will be your God, too.  The land where you are lying all alone, shall belong to you and to your children after you.  Your children shall spread abroad over the lands - east, west, north, and south - like the dust of the earth.  In your family all the world shall receive a blessing.  I am with you in your journey, and I will keep you where you are going, and will bring you back to this land.  I will never leave you, and I will surely keep my promise to you."

In the morning Jacob woke up from his sleep.  He said, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!  I thought that I was all alone, but God has been with me.  This place is the house of God.  It is the gate of Heaven!"

So Jacob took the stone on which he rested his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on it as an offering to God.  Jacob named that place Bethel, which means "The House of God."

Jacob made a promise to God at that time, and said, "If God really will go with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and will bring me to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God; and this stone shall be the house of God; and all that God gives me, I will give back to God one-tenth as an offering."

Then Jacob went onward in his long journey.  He waded across the river Jordan in a shallow place, feeling the way with this staff.  He climbed mountains, and journeyed beside the great desert on the east.  At last he came to the city of Haran.  Beside the city was the well, where Abraham's servant had met Jacob's mother, Rebekah.  There, after Jacob had waited for a time, he saw a young woman coming with her sheep, to give them water.

Jacob took off the flat stone that was over the mouth of the well, and drew water, and gave it to the sheep.  When he found that this young woman was Rachel, the daughter of Laban, he was so glad that he wept for joy.  At that moment he began to love Rachel, and longed to have her for his wife.

Rachel's father, Laban, welcomed Jacob, and took him into his home.  Jacob asked Laban if he would give his daughter Rachel to him as his wife.  Jacob said, "If you will give me Rachel, I will work for you seven years."

Laban said, "It is better that Rachel marry you rather than a stranger."  So Jacob lived seven years in Laban's house, caring for his sheep, oxen, and camels.  He loved Rachel so much that the seven years seemed like only a few days.

At last came the day for the marriage.  They brought in the bride, who as was the custom, was wearing a thick veil so that her face could not be seen.  She was married to Jacob.  But when Jacob lifted up her veil, he found that he had married, not Rachel whom he loved, but her older sister Leah!

Jacob was very angry that he had been deceived, though that was just the way in which Jacob himself had deceived his father and cheated his brother Esau.

But Laban said, "In our land we never allow the younger daughter to be married before the older daughter.  Keep Leah for your wife, and work for me seven years longer, and you shall have Rachel also."

For in those times men often had more than one wife.  So Jacob stayed seven years more, fourteen years in all, before he received Rachel as his wife.

While Jacob was living at Haran, eleven sons were born to him.  But only one of these was the child of Rachel, whom Jacob loved.  This son was named Joseph.  Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because his mother was Rachel.

Review Questions

1.  Why did Jacob leave home?

2.  When Jacob stopped for the night, he had a dream about a ladder going from Heaven to earth with angels on it.  Who was at the top of the ladder? 

3.  What did God say to Jacob?

4.  What promise did Jacob make to God?

5.  Who did Jacob meet at the well?

6.  How did Laban trick Jacob?

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