God encounters The son of Isaac and Rebekah, renamed Israel, became the father of the twelve tribal families More in a dream as he journeys out of the promised land and, for the first time, confirms that he is the chosen one to carry on the promise.
This text is generally recognized as one of the “pillars” in the Jacob story. It depicts Jacob on a journey back to the “home country” to escape Esau’s wrath. Staying the night in the open country, he has a remarkable dream in which he sees a stairway or ramp (not a ladder!) that extends from earth to heaven. This scene may be compared to the stairways attached to The Jerusalem temple, unlike the tabernacle, was a permanent structure, although (like the tabernacle) it was a place of worship and religious activity. On one occasion Jesus felt such activity was unacceptable and, as reported in all four Gospels, drove from the temple those engaged... More towers in the ancient Near East; they were considered microcosms of the world, with the top of the tower representing heaven, the dwelling place of the gods. Priests traversed the stairway providing communication between heaven and earth. This story is a polemic against such an understanding. In the dream God speaks God’s own word, indeed a string of personal and communal promises, and is personally present with Jacob.
Dreams often have potency and predictive power in the Bible, for they were seen as messages from God. In the Old Testament Joseph dreamed about the seven fat and lean years. In the New Testament Joseph dreamed about escaping to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. More are an important vehicle of divine revelation in several Genesis texts (see 20; 28:10-22; 31:1-3; 37; 40-41). Unlike in our post-Freudian understandings, dreams were not thought to be a witness to a dreamer’s psychological state, working out stress, anxiety, or subconscious fears. Dreams were believed to be a means in and through which actual divine encounters took place. When Jacob refers to this event, he speaks of God’s presence “in this place” and not in a dream; elsewhere too he speaks of divine appearance and never of dreams (35:1-9; 48:3)
The text demonstrates that God’s transcendence is not compromised by closeness; God indeed comes near to Jacob and speaks a long list of promises to him.