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(Last update 7/3/00)

Jacob, the son of Isaac, is an individual who had a number of interesting "experiences" with angels. We will examine one of Jacob's most mystical angelic encounters, his dream of a mystical "ladder."

Genesis 28:10-17 - And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

Here is what we know about this dream at the "literal" level:

  • Jacob sees some type of "ladder" with angels on it
  • The bottom of the ladder is set up on the earth
  • The top of the ladder reaches to heaven
  • An unknown number of angels are on the ladder
  • Some of the angels are ascending, others are descending
  • God Himself is at the top of the ladder
  • God gives Jacob a message about his inheriting the land and always being with him

Obviously, there is some deep meaning here, and if the literal interpretation of the Genesis text is all we had to go on, we would have all the more difficulty coming up with an interpretation. There are two things in our favor however.

The first bit of help we get is from Yeshua in the Gospel of John:

John 1:44-51 - Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

In this story, we see the following exchange between Yeshua and Nathanael:

  • Yeshua making a prophetic revelation about Nathanael to Nathanael.
  • In return, Nathanael makes a declaration of faith in Yeshua, as the Son of God.
  • In response to this statement of faith by Nathanael, Yeshua informs him that he will have continued and greater revelation.
  • Yeshua links Nathanael's relationship to God, and his forthcoming greater understanding, directly to Jacob's dream, revealing Himself to be that ladder (in verse 51).

Returning to Jacob, we see that he too received a deeper understanding of God through the dream. God tells Jacob that the promises made to his grandfather Abraham, and father Isaac, would continue through him, and that He would always be with him. Jacob awakens to proclaim that he now knew things that he did not earlier understand (28:16).

We now know from comparing these Scriptures that:

  • There is a connection between this "ladder" and greater spiritual knowledge
  • The ladder is directly related to Yeshua Himself
  • Angels are involved in this process of granting spiritual knowledge, going up and down the ladder between God in heaven and the earth below


The picture is starting to get a bit clearer, and some may be satisified "knowing" this much, however to those with a thirst for a more intimate knowledge of God, many questions remain. In order to explore the meanings of such mystical Scriptures, it is necessary to analyze the texts at the deepest level of study- called the SOD level. Such study is in an area called Kabbalah and requires an absolutely firm grounding in God's Torah, as it is easy to go astray and into paganism.

Nonetheless, we are not to shy away from studying the deeper, mystical areas of God. In fact in the book of Hebrews we are told to move from "milk to meat," and that stagnation will result in backsliding and possibly worse. This is not to mention the fact that the entire book of Revelation is in the genre of Jewish mytical writings and must be studied as such.

We will only touch lightly on mystical teachings in this section of the study -- enough to give some insight to the particulars of Jacob's ladder. A fuller explanation of the Kabbalistic understanding of how God reveals Himself to man will presented later in this study.

In the Jewish mystical writings we see a type of "trinity" of the Godhead, although it is not the same, nor arrived at in the same fashion, as the "Christian trinity." Instead, we have a view of God represented by what are called three "pillars." Each of these pillars is made up of several "characteristics" or "emanations" of God. One of the "outer" pillars represent the "masculine" characteristics of God as found in Scripture (such as "judgment" and "understanding"), the other represents the "feminine" ones (such as "mercy" and "wisdom"). The third (center) pillar is the perfect "balance" between the other two.

It is critical to understand that the use of the terms masculine and feminine are metaphorical - they are not to be taken literally as already mentioned. Such use of masculine and feminine aspects, or attributes, of God, comes directly from Scripture. For instance, in Proverbs chapter 8, "Wisdom" is personified and said to have done many great things. The connection between what Wisdom does in Proverbs and what Yeshua does is obvious. Yet, the entire passage is written in the feminine. (Hebrew, like French and Spanish, has masculine and femine words.) The term "Holy Spirit" is Ruach haKodesh in Hebrew, and is also feminine. In Scripture, we see God speaking of Himself as "panting as a woman in labor." Even Yeshua compares himself to a (female) hen who wanted to gather her chicks.

In the creation account, we see the most direct evidence that the image of God has both a masculine and feminine side to it:

Genesis 1:26-27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.n. 1:26-27).

As mentioned, the middle pillar of the Godhead in Jewish mystcal writings is the one that "holds the balance" between the feminine pillar (which is said to be "expansive") and the masculine pillar (which is said to be "constrictive"). The middle pillar is associated with equilibrium, the perfect will of God, or His grace (Hebrew = hesed).


In the Zohar, the middle pillar is associated with Jacob. (Abraham is associated with the right side and Isaac with the left side.) Jacob is also said to have understood the unity of the Godhead (the union of the three pillars) in the form of this ladder:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 150a - AND BEHOLD, THE LORD STOOD (nitsab) UPON IT, ETC. Here Jacob discerned the essential unity of the object of faith. This is implied in the term nitsab (firmly knit), which implies that Jacob saw all grades stationed as one on that ladder so as to be knit into one whole. And inasmuch as that ladder is situated between two sides, God said to him: I AM THE LORD, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM THY FATHER, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC , these two being respectively of the two sides, one of the right and the other of the left.

In the Jewish mystical writings, the middle pillar of this Godhead, is also linked with both Metatron (who we've mentioned several times in earlier parts of this study) and also to the "Son of Yah" (Yah being a name for God, as in Yahweh).

Zohar, vol. 3, p. 227, (Amsterdam Edition) - The Middle Pillar [of the G-dhead] is Metatron, Who has accomplished peace above, According to the glorious state there.

Zohar, vol. 2, p. 115, (Amsterdam Edition) - Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off. This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the G-dhead, which is the Son of Yah.

The middle pillar is the one that connects the realm of God in the heavenly Holy of Holies, represented by the Crown (Keter), down to the earth, represented by the Kingdom (Malkhut). In between these two extremes, it passes through an area called Tiferet, meaning beauty. In Kabbalah, Tiferet is directly associated with Metatron, also known as YHWH ELOHIM. (All of these locations represent "aspects" or "emanations" of God and are called the Sephirot. They will be discussed in detail later in this study.)

As angels are the entities that carry out the will of God, "moving" from the heavenlies "down" to earth and then back "up" to heaven. The middle pillar (the ladder) is directly associated with the perfect will of God and His grace. We now begin to get greater insight into what Jacob's dream and Yeshua's words meant.

We also know from Scripture that Yeshua is the mediator between God and man. All prayers must go "through" Him. In Kabbalah, this same role is given to Metatron, who as we mentioned, is also associated with Tiferet, a point on the middle pillar. All blessings also return through Metatron:

"To keep the way of the tree of life." (Gen. 3:24) Who is the way to the tree of life? It is the great Metatron, for he is the way to that great tree, to that mighty tree of life. Thus it is written, "The Angel of G-d, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them." (Ex. 14:19) And Metatron is called the Angel of G-d. Come and see, thus says R. Simeon. The holy One, blessed Be He, has prepared for Himself a holy Temple above in the heavens, a holy city, a city in the heavens, and called it Jerusalem, the holy city. Every petition sent to the King, must be through Metatron. Every message and petition from here below, must first go to Metatron, and from thence to the king. Metatron is the Mediator of all that comes from heaven down to the earth, or from the earth up to heaven. And because he is the mediator of all, it is written "And the Angel of G-d, which went before the camp of Israel, removed; that is, before Israel which is above." (Ex. 14:19) This Angel of G-d is the same of whom it is written "And YHWH went before them…" (Ex. 13:21) to go by day and by night as the ancients have expounded it. Whoever will speak to me [says G-d] shall not be able to do so, till he has made it known to Metatron. thus the holy One, blessed be He, on account of the great love to and mercy with which He has over the Assembly of Israel, commits her (the Assembly) to Metatron's care. What shall I do for Him (Metatron)? I will commit my Whole house into His hand, etc. Henceforth be you a Keeper As it is written "The Keeper of Israel" (Ps. 121:4)

The Zohar tells us that Jacob's ladder is also "the gate of heaven" through which all blessing flow, thus giving it the same role as Metatron (Yeshua). It is also compare to the Temple on earth. another reference to Yeshua:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 150b - Jacob then said: THIS IS NONE OTHER THAN THE HOUSE OF GOD , implying: This is not to remain idle; its covenant is not meant to exist in isolation. It is in sooth a godly abode, to be used for the promotion of fecundity and for receiving blessing from all the bodily organs. For indeed this is THE GATE OF HEAVEN , or, in other words, the gate of the Body, the gate assuredly through which pass the blessings downwards, so that it is attached both on high and below: on high, as being the gate of heaven, and below, as being none other than the house of God."

We know from Scripture that Yeshua says HE is the gate:

Using all of this insight, we now have a view of Jacob's ladder as a representation of all of these:

  • the "middle pillar" of the Godhead
  • Yeshua
  • Metatron
  • The Son of God (Yah)
  • the perfect Will of God (His grace)
  • the "gate of heaven"
  • the earthly Temple

We will look further into the concept of the Image of God, in the next major section of our study.