The passage of the Bible titled Genesis 28:22-10 narrates about Jacob who was traveling to Haran. When the sun sets, he takes the stone, puts his head on it, and falls asleep. Jacob sees a dream about the stairway and the Lord who talks to him about descendants. Waking up, Jacob proposes that the Lord will be his God if he will support him during the journey. In this paper, I will try to understand the meaning of this passage and reveal the messages provided by the author, focusing on such analysis levels as literary, ideological, and communal.
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The structure of this passage is logical and clear, and the story develops rapidly. The author uses repetition of the word “stairway” to point to the God and show his greatness. Another repetition of the word “stone” that was used as a pillar reflects the desire of Jacob to perpetuate what he sees in his dream and what inspires his vision to continue the journey and achieve its goal. I believe that heaven is used as a symbol of the God’s place since the reader notices angles on the stairway and the Lord above them. However, the fact that the word “place” is used six times may reflect that certain sights are rather important, which seems to be referring to church and shrine. More to the point, the narrator’s remarks help the readers to understand the actions of Jacob as well as his speech.
The passage telling about Jacob’s dream at Bethel presents several pivotal ideas. In my opinion, the most essential of them is the communication between the individual and God. This passage seems to be the very embodiment of the divine connection between people and God as well as the earth and the heavens. Every person has both challenges and joy in his or her life and wants to receive help or express gratitude. I consider this passage to show the possibility of such inner dialogue between every person and God.
The second idea I would like to discuss is the invisible presence of angels who act as mediators and assistants of God. In my point of view, these angels point to a church sermon, the model of which is the preaching of the apostles. As for the relation of the mentioned idea to nowadays’ reality, I can note that people are still looking for angels in a sense to receive their assistance or advice on one or another issue. Throughout the Bible, it can be traced that He created angels to help people on their way to salvation. In this connection, this passage is one of the vivid examples that illustrate the above idea.
The third idea of the given passage refers to staircase seen by Jacob that may be interpreted as the Church, the birth of which is on earth, and the residence is in heaven. The angels ascend and descend by it, and, at the same time, it reveals sacraments of the Divinity and represents the fragility of His humanity. They go back when they turn their minds to the Creator and descend when they instruct listeners on how to live on the earth. Indeed, God, Who elevates some to the heights of divine knowledge, descends to others, revealing to them the essence of faith in human words and images.
I assume that the main message of the given passage is the need for deep personal trust in God in our journey to Him. In his dream, God sees that Jacob takes this journey as a wanderer, having no consolation but relying on all help from the Heaven. At the very beginning of the journey, as if wishing to strengthen his desire, God meets him and says: “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants” (The Catholic Study Bible, Genesis 28.10-22). It is exciting how the narrator reproduces the words of God as if expanding all of our possible fears and doubts associated with the uncertainty of our own future. For all that, the greatness of God lies in the fact that in controlling the infinitely great dimensions of the universe, He is close to us in such a way that we can hardly comprehend His fatherly love and care. I suggest that the author intended to address the problem of religious doubts regarding a specific Israelite community.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the passage of Jacob’s dream at Bethel provides several important ideas regarding God’s presence in our lives. In particular, the references to angels, the stairway, and the divine connection seem to be inextricably linked to nowadays’ reality. The narrator uses such literary devices as repetitions, symbols, and comments to enrich the passage and inspire the readers. The overall idea of the given Bible piece encourages people to strengthen their faith and believe in God and His divine power to help everyone.
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The Catholic Study Bible. New American Bible Revised Version, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2010.