[b-hebrew] Where Is Jacob's Ladder?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Sat Nov 10 18:49:23 EST 2007

Yigal Levin: 
You wrote:  “What you did  here was to take one sentence of my post out of 
context and 
then claim that  we agree on that point. We do not. Please read the whole 
paragraph of which this  was part.” 
O.K.  Let’s  look at the whole paragraph you wrote, sentence by  sentence. 
    1.  “I agree that the story looks like it's talking about  Jacob's first 
night of his journey….”
I am absolutely ecstatic that you appear to agree with me  about that.  That 
was my #1 point on  this thread. 
As we will soon see, however, you later said you are not  sure about that 
point.  So perhaps I  should have said that you may agree with me about this 
critical  point. 
    1.  “…(although I don't accept your assumption that he had  NEVER 
spent a night away from his parents. How do you know that? The Bible  does 
not account for every day and night in Jacob's  life)….”
The text tells us that Jacob’s older twin brother, Esau,  was an outdoorsman, 
who killed game for the whole family to eat.  The text paints quite a 
different  picture of Jacob.  Here is what the  text says: 
“...and Jacob was a quiet man,  dwelling in tents.  …And Jacob sod  pottage…
.  And Jacob gave Esau bread  and pottage of lentils….”  Genesis  25: 27, 29, 
Jacob sounds like a guy who stayed at home with Mom  making soup.  There is 
no hint in  the text that Jacob ever spent any time away from his parents prior 
to the trip  out to Harran.  Jacob only went out  to Harran because his 
parents ordered him to do so.  Jacob is portrayed as being very smart,  and 
divinely blessed.  But Jacob is  not portrayed as a guy who spent time away from his 
parents before his big trip  to Harran.  Why try to change what  the text 
says?  The text, as is, is  perfect. 
    1.  “...although that may be an illusion, since the  text does not 
actually say it.”
Here you say that you’re not sure that Jacob came upon  the Jacob’s Ladder 
locale the very first night of his trip out to Harran.  So you more or less 
agree with my  central point, but then you say you’re not sure.  O.K., I can live 
with  that. 
4.  “So you  ask how he could have gone from Beer-sheba to Beth-el in one 
day's journey? But  that's just it: the text does not actually say that it was 
one day, so why is it  
important for you to know?” 
It’s important to know, because we want to know whether  or not the 
Patriarchal narratives are purporting to vouchsafe Lebanon to the  Hebrews as part of 
the Promised Land.  Is YHWH simply repeating to Jacob the very same promise 
YHWH had earlier  made to Abraham?  Or, on the  contrary, after vouchsafing 
southeastern Canaan to Abraham, does YHWH in  addition vouchsafe Lebanon to Isaac 
and Jacob?  It makes a big difference where Jacob is  when YHWH says these key 
“The land whereon thou liest, to  thee will I give it, and to thy seed.”  
Genesis 28: 13 
In my view, Jacob is lying at the foot of Mt. Lebanon, in  Lebanon, when YHWH 
utters those important lines.  Abraham never got any divine promise of  the 
Promised Land near Lebanon. 
    1.  “For the text, what's important is that he "met" God at  the same 
place that Abraham had, implying, or maybe even "proving", that Jacob  was 
Abraham's true heir, and not  Esau.”
The second half of your assertion is important and  true.  The Jacob’s Ladder 
experience  is important in reassuring both Jacob and the audience that Jacob 
is indeed  Abraham’s proper heir, which we want to hear, in light of the very 
strange  manner in which Jacob got Isaac’s blessing over  Esau. 
But there is absolutely no hint in the text that Jacob is  at the same place 
as Abraham had been when Abraham met with YHWH.  If your view were correct, 
why wouldn’t  YHWH say that just as YHWH had promised southeastern Canaan to 
Abraham and  Abraham’s descendants when Abraham was at Bethel/Ai, now YHWH is 
repeating that  very same promise to Jacob in the same location.  On the 
contrary, the text never refers  to Ai when Jacob is here, but rather always refers to 
Luz.  What you are claiming is not supported  by what the text says.  Why 
fight  the text? 
    1.  “The text does not say how long his journey to Haran  was either. The 
distances and times are not  important.”
It is unlikely that the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives had  even 
been north or east of Mt. Lebanon.  On the other hand, the Hebrew author knew 
Canaan, including southern  Lebanon, like the back of his own hand.  There 
are precious few details of any trip between Mt. Lebanon and  Harran.  Yet over 
the course of the  Patriarchal narratives, we learn a lot about the Patriarchs’
 movements south of  Mt. Lebanon.  From Damascus, they  would go to 
Lus/Lusi/Laish/Luz/Jacob’s “Bethel”, just inside of Canaan.  They would probably stay 
inside of  Canaan as far south as Hazor.  Then  they would go over to the 
Transjordan, and not come back into Canaan until they  had gone as far south as 
Shechem.  So the two key border towns to the Patriarchs are (i) 
Lus/Lusi/Laish/Luz  and (ii) Shechem.  Abraham’s  Bethel/Ai is not a border town at all, being 
located in the very heart of  Canaan.  Note how the text tells us  that each 
of Lus/Lusi/Laish/Luz and Shechem is a border town, just inside the  border of 
“So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of  Canaan--the same is Beth-el….
”  Genesis 35: 6 
“And Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is  in the land of 
Canaan….”  Genesis  33: 18 
It would be senseless for the narrator to tell us that  Abraham’s Bethel/Ai 
was “in the land of Canaan”.  But that comment makes perfect sense for  the 
border town of Lus/Lusi/Laish/Luz, namely, Jacob’s  “Bethel”. 
No matter how much chapters 27 and 28 of Ezekiel hate Sur  and southern 
Lebanon, the fact of the matter is that Sur and southern Lebanon  were good to the 
Patriarchs.  Southern Lebanon is part of the Promised Land, according to the  
Patriarchal narratives.  Unlike  Ezekiel, the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives likes Sur, Egypt and  Assyria.  That’s because the  Patriarchal 
narratives are a truly ancient composition that was composed in the  mid-14th century 
BCE, before Sur, Egypt and Assyria did anything bad  to the Hebrews.  The 
politics of the  Patriarchal narratives makes perfect sense in a mid-14th century 
BCE  time framework for the early Hebrews, while making no sense at all in a  
mid-1st millennium BCE time framework (when the Hebrews, for good  reason, 
hated Sur, Egypt and Assyria). 
As you can see from this post and every other post I have  made, my views 
about the Patriarchal narratives are firmly grounded in what the  text actually 
says.  Genesis 28: 11  wouldn’t be telling us about the sun going down if it 
were not the very first  evening of Jacob’s long trip out to Harran, in my 
opinion.  If that  analysis is correct, then the "Beersheba" from which Jacob left 
is not located  in the northern Negev Desert, and the "Bethel" where the 
Jacob's Ladder  experience occurred is not located anywhere near Bethel/Ai or 
Jerusalem.   Rather, that "Beersheba" and that "Bethel"/Luz are located in southern 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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