Jacob's Wonderful Dream
Genesis xxvii: 46,
to xxx: 24.
Esau found that he had lost his birthright and his
blessing, he was very angry against his brother
Jacob; and he said to himself, and told others, "My
father Isaac is very old, and cannot live long. As
soon as he is dead, then I shall kill Jacob for
having robbed me of my right."
When Rebekah heard this, she said to Jacob, "Before
it is too late, do you go away from home, and get
out of Esau's sight. Perhaps when Esau sees you no
longer, he will forget his anger; and then you can
come home again. Go and visit my brother Laban, your
uncle, in Haran, and stay with him for a little
while, until Esau's anger is past."
You remember that Rebekah came from the family of
Nahor, Abraham's younger brother, who lived in
Haran, a long distance to the northeast of Canaan;
and that Laban was Rebekah's brother.
So Jacob went out of Beersheba, on the border of the
desert, and walked alone toward 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 distant from his
home. And as he had no bed to lie down upon, he took
a stone and rested his head upon it for a pillow,
and lay down to sleep. We would think that a hard
pillow, but Jacob was tired, and soon feel asleep.
And on that night Jacob had a wonderful dream. In
his dream he saw stairs leading up to heaven from
the earth where he lay; and angels were coming down
and going up upon the stairs. And above the stairs,
he saw the Lord God standing. And 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; and your
children shall spread abroad over the lands, east,
and west, and north, and south, like the dust of the
earth: and in your family all the world shall
receive a blessing. And 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
And in the morning Jacob awaked from his sleep, and
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!"
And Jacob took the stone on which his head had
rested, and he set it up as a pillar, and poured oil
on it as an offering to God. And Jacob named that
place Bethel, which in the language that Jacob spoke
means "The House of God."
And Jacob made a promise to God at that time, and
"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 of 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 his staff; he climbed mountains, and
journeyed beside the great desert on the east, and
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 and there, after Jacob had
waited for a time, he saw a young woman coming with
her sheep, to give them water.
Then Jacob took off the flat stone that was over the
mouth of the well, and drew water, and gave it to
the sheep. And when he found that this young woman
was his own cousin Rachel, the daughter of Laban, he
was so glad that he wept for joy. And at that moment
he began to love Rachel, and longed to have her for
Rachel's father, Laban, who was Jacob's uncle, the
brother of Rebekah, Jacob's mother, gave a welcome
to Jacob, and took him into his home.
And Jacob asked Laban if he would give his daughter
Rachel to him as his wife; and Jacob said, "If you
will give me Rachel, I will work for you seven
years." And Laban said, "It is better that you
should have her than that a stranger should marry
So Jacob lived seven years in Laban's house, caring
for his sheep and oxen and camels; and such was his
love for Rachel that the seven years seemed like a
At last the day came for the marriage; and they
brought in the bride, who after the manner of that
land was covered with a thick veil, so that her face
could not be seen. And she was married to Jacob; and
when Jacob lifted up her veil, he found that he had
married, not Rachel whom he loved, but her older
sister Leah, who was not beautiful, and whom Jacob
did not love at all.
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 his uncle 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, as we have seen, men often had
two wives or even more than two. No one thought that
it was wrong then to have more than one wife,
although now it is considered very wicked. 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 Joseph, who
was dearer to Jacob than any other of his children,
partly because he was the youngest, and also because
he was the child of his beloved Rachel.