[b-hebrew] Where Was Jacob's Ladder?
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Nov 8 10:24:02 EST 2007
You wrote: "Jim, is there a specifically Hebrew notion in your discussion?
it would be best not to pursue this thread."
The key issue is how to understand the Biblical Hebrew phrasing of Genesis
28: 10-11. My reading is that the reference to the sun going down means the
first time that the sun went down on Jacob's trip out to Harran. It was the
first night that Jacob ever spent alone in his entire life, away from his
If Jacob had already been on his trip for one or two or three days already,
why would the narrator be telling us about the sun going down?
1. Here is my literal reading of the Hebrew text of Genesis 28: 10-11:
"And departed Jacob from Beersheba, and went toward Harran, and lighted upon
a place, staying all night there, because went down the sun...."
Am I misunderstanding what the Hebrew text actually says? To me, the clear
implication is that after leaving Beersheba and heading out in the direction
of Harran, Jacob traveled until the sun started to go down, at which point
Jacob had to stop traveling any further that first day. The first day that a
person is away from his family, and will sleep outside all alone, with most of
the long, dangerous trip to Harran still lying ahead, is the perfect setting
for the Jacob's Ladder experience.
The critical issue here is whether Jacob came upon the Jacob's Ladder locale
the very first evening after he left Beersheba, or rather whether Jacob had
been on the road for at least two days, and perhaps for many days, when the
sun happened to go down.
Are you interpreting Genesis 28: 10-11 as follows?
"And departed Jacob from Beersheba, and went toward Harran. And [one time
on his trip out to Harran, he] lighted upon a place, staying all night there,
because went down the sun...."
Does that interpretation make sense? Obviously, the sun goes down every
day. To me, if Jacob has already been on the road several days, it is strange
for the narrator to be telling us about the sun going down. What makes sense
to me is that the first time that the sun went down when Jacob was alone,
far from his family, was a special moment, which is why the narrator tells us
about the sun going down in Genesis 28: 10-11.
2. My reading of the Hebrew text of Genesis 28: 10-11 may be in error. The
fact remains, however, that the key to my whole argument rests entirely on
what one understands the Biblical Hebrew text of Genesis 28: 10-11 to be
saying. If the text is clearly saying that Jacob happened upon the Jacob's Ladder
locale on his trip out to Harran, but by no means necessarily, or even
probably, on the first day of his trip, then my entire argument here disappears.
As I see it, the issue I am raising is strictly a question of Biblical
Hebrew grammar and word usage. Does or does not Genesis 28: 10-11, objectively
viewed, strongly imply that Jacob came upon the Jacob's Ladder locale the very
first evening of his long trip out to Harran? That's the question. That's
the "Hebrew notion" here.
If the experts on Biblical Hebrew concur that based on that sentence, it was
probably not the first evening of the trip that Jacob happened upon the
Jacob's Ladder locale, then the argument I was making is defeated. But the
argument will be won or lost based on our understanding of what the Hebrew text is
Many of us like to post here because we're always worried that we may be
misunderstanding the grammar or word choice used in Biblical Hebrew, and we
greatly appreciate the different opinions that we get here from people whose long
suit is Biblical Hebrew. If I have misinterpreted the Biblical Hebrew
meaning of Genesis 28: 10-11, I will promptly drop my argument as being a losing
The question is whether, based on an objective reading of the Biblical
Hebrew text, Genesis 28: 10-11 strongly implies that Jacob came upon the Jacob's
Ladder locale the very first evening of his long trip out to Harran. As I see
it, that is purely a matter of Biblical Hebrew grammar and Biblical Hebrew
word choice, and as such is a fitting topic for discussion on this fine
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