Torah: Genesis 28:10 - 32:2
Haftarah: Hosea 11:7-11
Brit Chadashah: John 1:10-51
In our portion, we read how Jacob was fleeing from his home in Canaan from his brother Esau, and he comes “upon a certain place.” In the Hebrew text, it specifically says, “Vayfgah baMakom” - “He came to ‘the Place.’” This is significant, since it reveals for us that Jacob didn’t come to this place by accident, but he either knew where what this place, or was guided here supernaturally or divinely, by the Spirit of Adonai. I tend to believe that Jacob was guided here by the Ruach HaKodesh, since it later says - “Jacob woke up from his sleep and said, ‘Undoubtedly, Adonai is in this place - and I was unaware” - Genesis 28:16.
Because of this, one of the Names of Adonai is called by is, BaMakom, which “The Place.” This Name is significant, since it reveals the omnipresence of Adonai - meaning that He is indeed everywhere and everywhere we are, we are in His place. However, the place spoken of here in this portion, specifically points to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem and His future Temple. As it Jacob himself would prophesy, “How fearsome this place is! This is none other than the House of God - this must be the gate of Heaven!” - Genesis 28:17. The Targum would translate this verse to say - “And he was afraid, and said, “How dreadful and glorious is this place! This place is not common, but the sanctuary of the Name of the Lord, the proper spot for prayer, set forth before the gate of Heaven and founded beneath the Throne of glory” - Targum Jonathan Genesis 28:17. This is significant, because later in the Holy of Holies, it would be the only place where the Holy Name of Adonai would be pronounced on Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. This would also explain that while there is a place outside of Jerusalem called Bethel, the Ladder itself would point to Jerusalem upon the Mount Moriah. Thus, the early sages would teach, that this place where Jacob anointed the stone, would also be upon Mount Moriah, where Messiah would be sacrificed, and later where He will reign.
Shortly, before Jacob wakes, he is given a prophetic dream - a dream about a Ladder (Stairway), “set up on the earth and its top reaching to the heavens - and behold, angels of God going up and down on it!” - Genesis 28:12b. For us who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, this Ladder is indeed Him! Later, Messiah Himself would reveal this to His disciples by saying, “Amen, amen I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!” - John 1:51. Interestingly, early sages would teach that the verse in Genesis could be translated to say - “… and behold, angels of God going up and down on Him!” - Genesis 28:12b. Other early translations would say that the angels of the Lord descended to upon Him - not upon Jacob per se, but upon the One who was within Him - his Seed, the Messiah. As it is written, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed - and in your Seed” - Genesis 28:14b. The same promise that Adonai gave unto Abraham, He would also give unto Jacob - and through Jacob, the Promise of Messiah would come. As it is written, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It doesn’t say, ‘and to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘and to your Seed,’ who is the Messiah” - Galatians 3:16. Thus, the Ladder is indeed Messiah, the One who would make a way for us to Heaven from earth.
In verse 18 we are given a very vivid prophetic image regarding the stone where Jacob laid his head for the night - “Early in the morning Jacob got up and took the stone, which he had placed under his head, and set it up as a memorial stone and poured oil on top of it” - Genesis 28:18. In other words, Jacob anointed the stone. Why is this significant? Well, not only because of the place where it happened - Mount Moriah - but, because of what (or to whom) it pointed to - the Messiah. Early Jewish writings say that Jacob anointed this stone with oil to indicate that his future descendants would be anointed as priests or kings. However, according to what we read earlier from Rav Shaul, what had happened here in regards to Jacob’s Seed, was pointing specifically to the Messiah. It would be the Messiah who would be anointed not from Jacob, but from Heaven itself. An early Midrash says, “the oil was supplied to him from heaven in abundance, as though from a jar full to the very top” - Genesis Rabbah 69:8. This early discussion suggests that the oil was given to Jacob from Heaven, because he had none with him. As it is written, “For with only my staff I crossed over this Jordan” - Genesis 32:11b. Thus, because Jacob had no oil with him, Adonai miraculously provided the oil to anoint the stone. Whether or not, this is the case - the truth of the matter is that Adonai provided for us a picture of the Messiah (Anointed One) would give His life for us upon Mount Moriah.
Interestingly, early sages wrote that the reason Jacob anointed this stone, was so that it would be recognized when he returned from Charan. Yet, it is also written that the anointing of the stone with oil signified an offering or sacrifice taking place upon the altar - the future altar of the Temple. Yet, the stone would provide another significant prophetic picture in regards to sacrifice - specifically, the sacrifice of the Messiah. In the Scriptures, imagery of a certain stone is provided for us when it comes to the Messiah. The Psalmist wrote, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” - Psalm 118:22. Eventually, on this place not only would the Temple stand, but Messiah - who would be rejected - would become our salvation. Just as the oil was provided to Jacob from Adonai, so too would the salvation that we receive in Messiah’s sacrifice be provided from Adonai. As it is also written, “It is from Adonai: it is marvelous in our eyes!” - Psalm 118:23.
When Jacob poured out oil upon the stone, not only did he anoint it as a pillar, but also consecrated it for holy purposes, such as sacrifice, a place of change and dedication (even rededication). Later on in Genesis we see Jacob returns to Beth El where Adonai appears to him once again. As it is written, “God appeared to Jacob again, after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He bless him. God said to him: ‘Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.’ So He named him Israel” - Genesis 35:9-10. It was at this place, where Jacob met the One True G-D, and it was at this place where he became a new man - a new creation. The passage goes on to say, “Jacob set up a memorial stone in the place where He had spoken with him - a stone pillar - and he poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Beth-El” - Genesis 35:14-15. The stone upon where the Temple would eventually stand would prove to be immovable, even after Jacob, Joseph and Moses had all lived and died - the stone would not be moved. Just as Messiah Yeshua, our stone is also immovable - as it is written, “You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone” - Ephesians 2:20.
What is interesting, is that the Hebrew for stone (eben) shares it root word with two Hebrew words - Av and Ben - Av, meaning, “Father” and Ben, meaning “Son.” Thus, when we look at this word, it is a combination of the two - Father and Son, making it One and the same. Thus, the Father and Son are One. What is even more interesting is that the Scriptures support that the Stone is in fact the Messiah, and that this Stone would come from the Father. As it is written, “From there, a Shepherd, the Stone of Israel” - Genesis 49:24b. The Scriptures go on to provide more imagery of Messiah being the Stone that had come from the Father for the sake of our salvation. Messiah would even go on to claim in the Brit Chadashah - saying, “I and the Father are One” - John 10:30. Interestingly, the Brit Chadashah reveals for us an irony - “Again the Judean leaders picked up stones to stone Him. Yeshua answered them, “I’ve shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are going to stone Me?” The Judean leaders answered, “We aren’t stoning you for a good work, but for blasphemy. Though You are a man, You make Yourself God!” - John 10:31-33. Yes indeed, Messiah Yeshua and the Father are One!
Jacob goes on to say about this stone - “So this stone which I set up as a memorial stone will become God’s House, and of everything You provide me I will definitely give a tenth of it to You” - Genesis 28:22. Prophetically, Jacob prophesies regarding what will eventually take place upon this mountain - a Temple will eventually stand, and he will bring his offerings to Adonai at His altar. Yet, we know that Jacob will not live long enough to see the Temple being built. So, how will Jacob bring his offerings. This passage is prophetically speaking of his descendants, Israel. Upon this place a Temple will be built and his descendants will bring their tithes and offerings unto Adonai. Yet, the greatest of his descendants would in fact be Messiah Yeshua, and upon the altar of Adonai, He will offering Himself up as sacrifice for the sake of our salvation and atonement.
The stone does not simply point to the Temple, but specifically points to the Messiah - our Rosh Pinah/Chief Cornerstone. Here, in this place Adonai would provide for us a way to enter into His Kingdom for eternity - He would provide for us Messiah, the Anointed Stone - the Ladder who came from Heaven and gave His life for us. Messiah is the One who would fulfill this portion as it indeed is written about Him.