PORTALS AND contact with the spirit realm are at the heart of this week’s Bible study.
First, we discuss Jacob’s dream during his journey from the Negev to Haran in northern Mesopotamia. We’ve heard the term “Jacob’s ladder,” but the underlying Hebrew word reveals that what he saw was more likely a ziggurat—the ancient Mesopotamian pyramid that represented a stairway to heaven.
We explain the connection between Bethel, “House (or Temple) of God,” and the stone idols later worshiped all over the Near East called baetylia by the Greeks and betyls by modern archaeologists. (Join us at Petra next spring and we’ll show you a few hundred of them!)
Then we discuss the tricking of the trickster, as Jacob’s uncle Laban deceives him into taking his eldest daughter, Leah, as his wife in exchange for seven years of labor. To marry his younger daughter Rachel, Laban demands another seven years’ work—and then tries to keep Jacob even longer because he realizes (through divination, a forbidden practice) that he’s being blessed by God through Jacob.
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