What is Jacob's Ladder?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 May 2020
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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.

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Post 7

@alisha: I would be inclined to wariness at the idea of a connection between the Creator and the creation. The Creator is independent of His creation. What do you mean by "connection?"

@Omgee: Jesus' famously quoted response, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" was true of all the prophets. It was their job to instruct mankind in wisdom and scripture so they could profit in the next life, and it wouldn't be possible without going through one of them. The message of God is uncompromising, therefore the communication line can only possibly be one-way. We have nothing to add; our job is to obey the command and win, or reject the command and fail.

Post 6

This actually makes me think back of the words that Jesus Christ spoke.

In John14:6, Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I think prophets used to be the spokesmen for God, but it was not a two-way communication channel.

I do believe you have a two-way communication channel in Jesus Christ. That way ascension and descent would be possible.

There is also mention of ascending and descending in John 1:51.

"And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Post 3

I bought a Jacobs ladder toy for my little brother because I want him to stay away from plastic made toys which can be hazardous for health. It's made of pretty simple things like wood and string but is fascinating for kids. They even have make-it-yourself versions now, it might be a good project to keep the kids busy at home. We will probably try that one soon.

Post 2

This term is used for so many things! Not just books or movies, but there are also education programs, plants and toys named after it. It's even found in computer-lingo -- how crazy is that?

Post 1

This is very interesting. I've read the Qur'an and Prophet Jacob and his sons are certainly mentioned, especially his son, Joseph, who is also a prophet. There are numerous mentions of different prophets' dreams in the Qur'an. Although this dream about the ladder is not one of them, there is for example, a detailed account of Joseph's dream in which 11 stars, moon and sun were prostrating to him. This dream was symbolic of Joseph's 11 brothers who after many years, regret their bad deeds towards Joseph and finally prostrate before him for his greatness and prophethood. We may never know for sure the meaning of Jacob's dream about the ladder but looking at this example and many others in

the Qur'an, it is certainly symbolic of something. I personally think it is symbolic of Jacob's prophethood. Since a prophet is the messenger of God, he is like a ladder, a connection between the Creator and the created. What do you think?

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