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The term Jacob’s ladder has been used as a movie title, book title, an electrical device and the name of a flower; however it originates from the Bible. Jacob is the third patriarch of the Bible. He is the son of Isaac and Rebekah, Esau’s twin brother and Abraham’s grandson. While fleeing his brother’s rage, Jacob stops to have a rest and dreams of a ladder to heaven on which angels ascended and descended. This ladder is commonly referred to as Jacob’s ladder. The Bible story of Jacob’s ladder can be found in the Book of Genesis (Chapter 28, verses 11-19).
The world’s three major monotheistic religions are Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All three are considered to be Abrahamic faiths. Because Jacob is a descendant of Abraham, he plays a role in not only Christianity, but Judaism and Islam too.
In Islam, Jacob is mentioned in the Quran, but there is no mention of Jacob’s ladder. According to the Quran Jacob was a prophet that received the word of God. He is well respected in the religion with a legacy that includes bowing to the one true God and worshipping. In contrast to Islam, scriptures of both Christianity and Judaism speak of Jacob’s ladder and the different religions also provide different interpretations of Jacob’s reverie.
Commentaries made by religious authorities on the Torah, Judaism’s most sacred writings, reveal several interpretations of Jacob’s ladder. One interpretation believes that Jacob’s ladder signifies the exiles which the Jews would have to endure prior to the coming of the Messiah. Another interpretation reveals that the angels ascended and then descended because Jacob was a holy man who was always surrounded by angels. Others believe that when Jacob stopped to rest on his journey, he stopped on the holy ground of Mount Moriah, which would later be the spot where the Temple of the Mound was built in Jerusalem. This lends to the belief that Jacob’s ladder acts as a bridge between Heaven and Earth.
The Christian interpretation of Jacob’s ladder is more straightforward and is very similar to what some Jews believe. Jacob’s ladder signifies the ultimate connection between God and man and Heaven and Earth. Some believe that according to the Bible, Jesus was the ideal Jacob’s ladder because he was from the bloodline of Jacob and He came to earth and by his sacrifice allowed believers to live in heaven for eternity.