Despite discovering that he was scammed into giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob, Isaac calls for Jacob and re-blesses him, and also gives him the ubiquitous warning against marrying foreign women. He commands Jacob to “take for thyself from thence a wife, of the daughters of Laban, thy mother’s brother.” Go marry your cousin, in other words. Laban is a one-stop shop for incestuous marriages. Then Isaac blesses Jacob with a suspiciously familiar sounding blessing that promises that he will become rich, own the land that they are squatting on, and have lots of babies.
Jacob leaves to go fuck his cousin, and stops on the way to rest up for the cousin-fucking to come. He beds down with some stones as pillows, even though nearly anything else in existence would make a more comfortable pillow. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the stone turns out to have metaphorical significance later. He has a dream about a ladder (not a golden staircase, like the common portrayal in religious artwork) touching the heavens and “messengers of God” going up and down the ladder. Jehovah is chilling on the ladder, and tells Jacob–surprise–that he is going to have as many children as dust on the land and blah blah.
Curiously, he also says “I leave thee not till that I have surely done that which I have spoken to thee.” So apparently God can “leave” which contradicts his supposedly omnipresent nature: if you are everywhere, you can’t leave anywhere. Moreover, even if he could leave, why the fuck would he? Is he a contract agent, fulfilling a baby-promise and then heading into the sunset or is he an omnipresent deity that watches and guards his chosen people? Or is he a figment of the imagination of some incestuous, primitive goat-herders thousands of years ago who were obsessed with land, wealth, and heirs? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the last one.
Jacob wakes up with a metaphorical half-chub from God promising him all this shit, and sets up a marker with the stone he was sleeping on (like a dumbass). He postulates that the place is “a gate of the heavens,” which by my recollection is the first time the word or concept of “heaven” has appeared, and it’s not a very well-developed concept.
There is no explanation of why Jacob would merit a special appearance from Jehovah to re-re-re-re-re-re-promise children and land. He is a liar and morally bankrupt individual who would have let his brother die if he hadn’t traded his birthright, and who scammed his dying father, so I guess he is kind of God’s type. And God is just a covenant-slut. He’ll spread his covenant legs for anyone.
Jacob makes a promise in return, to “tithe” to God, which is probably why this chapter is so popular with preachers.
1 And Isaac calleth unto Jacob, and blesseth him, and commandeth him, and saith to him, `Thou dost not take a wife of the daughters of Caanan;
2 rise, go to Padan-Aram, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother’s father, and take for thyself from thence a wife, of the daughters of Laban, thy mother’s brother;
3 and God Almighty doth bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and thou hast become an assembly of peoples;
4 and He doth give to thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, to cause thee to possess the land of thy sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.’
5 And Isaac sendeth away Jacob, and he goeth to Padan-Aram, unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramaean, brother of Rebekah, mother of Jacob and Esau.
6 And Esau seeth that Isaac hath blessed Jacob, and hath sent him to Padan-Aram to take to himself from thence a wife — in his blessing him that he layeth a charge upon him, saying, Thou dost not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan —
7 that Jacob hearkeneth unto his father and unto his mother, and goeth to Padan-Aram —
8 and Esau seeth that the daughters of Canaan are evil in the eyes of Isaac his father,
9 and Esau goeth unto Ishmael, and taketh Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, sister of Nebajoth, unto his wives, to himself, for a wife.
10 And Jacob goeth out from Beer-Sheba, and goeth toward Haran,
11 and he toucheth at a [certain] place, and lodgeth there, for the sun hath gone in, and he taketh of the stones of the place, and maketh [them] his pillows, and lieth down in that place.
12 And he dreameth, and lo, a ladder set up on the earth, and its head is touching the heavens; and lo, messengers of God are going up and coming down by it;
13 and lo, Jehovah is standing upon it, and He saith, `I [am] Jehovah, God of Abraham thy father, and God of Isaac; the land on which thou art lying, to thee I give it, and to thy seed;
14 and thy seed hath been as the dust of the land, and thou hast broken forth westward, and eastward, and northward, and southward, and all families of the ground have been blessed in thee and in thy seed.
15 `And lo, I [am] with thee, and have kept thee whithersoever thou goest, and have caused thee to turn back unto this ground; for I leave thee not till that I have surely done that which I have spoken to thee.’
16 And Jacob awaketh out of his sleep, and saith, `Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I knew not;’
17 and he feareth, and saith, `How fearful [is] this place; this is nothing but a house of God, and this a gate of the heavens.’
18 And Jacob riseth early in the morning, and taketh the stone which he hath made his pillows, and maketh it a standing pillar, and poureth oil upon its top,
19 and he calleth the name of that place Bethel, [house of God,] and yet, Luz [is] the name of the city at the first.
20 And Jacob voweth a vow, saying, `Seeing God is with me, and hath kept me in this way which I am going, and hath given to me bread to eat, and a garment to put on —
21 when I have turned back in peace unto the house of my father, and Jehovah hath become my God,
22 then this stone which I have made a standing pillar is a house of God, and all that Thou dost give to me — tithing I tithe to Thee.’