Questions and Concepts for Parsha Va'yeitzi
(Genesis 28:10-32:2)

1. This parsha contains one of the more interesting "dreams" found in Scripture -- that of "Jacob's Ladder" (28:12-15). Numerous interpretations of this dream may be found in Hebraic literature. All of them are valid.

Some ideas include:

A) There were two sets of angels, one set ascending, the other descending. These were the angels accompanying Jacob. As angels are only designated one type of task, there was one group that stayed with Jacob in the land of Israel, and when he left the land, another set of angels took over. This is shown in 32:1-2, where a group of angels meet him and he names the place he was at "Mahanaim," meaning "two camps" as there were two camps of angels present at that time and place.

B) There were but four angels, each representing one of the kingdoms that would come to oppress Israel (Babylon, Media, Greece and Rome). The number of "steps" they walked on the ladder indicated the amount of time they would struggle with Israel.

C) The angels were coming down to "have a look" at the earthly Jacob (in comparison to the heavenly/spiritual Jacob they were "acquainted" with.

D) The ladder and angels represent the "lower" spiritual world (called Yetzirah) that exists between physical earth and the higher spiritual world (called Beriah or Heaven/Heavens) above. The angels moving up and down show their role as messengers in carrying out the will of God in earthly affairs.

2. In verse 28:11 the Torah makes an explicit mention of something that doesn't seem worth mentioning -- Jacob stopped to sleep because the sun had set. The sages teach that this was not a "normal" sunset. Rather, God caused the sun to set at an unexpected time, causing Jacob to stop at exactly the place (and time) that He wanted him to.

3. In verse 28:18, Jacob takes the rock he had rested his head on as he slept, places it "as a pillar" and "anoints" it. What is the relationship between this "pillar" and the "ladder" in his dreams? What is the relationship between this "anointed" rock and the anointed High Priest and/or Messiah ("anointed one")?

4. In verse 29:2-3, 29:8, we are told of a large stone that requires many of the local men to move in order to access the well/water below it. However in verse 29:10 Jacob is able to move the stone by himself -- after seeing Rachel for the first time.

5. The "switch" pulled on Jacob, where he ends up marrying Leah instead of Rachel, could not have been "pulled off" without the cooperation of the two sisters. What would their motive be? Who might Leah have ended up having to marry if Jacob had only taken Rachel?

6. Jacob is said to have complained to the sisters about their "switch." In response they reminded him of his pretending to be Esau to his own father in order to inherit the better blessing. Is Jacob "getting a taste of his own medicine?" How is this all "part of God's plan?"

7. In 28:14, Jacob is told that all the people  of the earth would be blessed through him and his children. How does this compare to the similar promise made earlier to Abraham?

Consider this:
In John 1:44-51, 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; "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." (John 1:51)

Jacob also received a deeper understanding of God through his 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 (Genesis 28:16). Jacob referred to the ladder as a "gate of heaven." This is considered an allusion to the Temple ("Bet El" = House of God - 28:18).. Yeshua referred to himself a gate (or door) and proclaimed himself to be "greater than the Temple."