One of the most famous dreams in the Bible is Jacob's dream.


In this dream he envisions a long ladder rooted in the ground and reaching up to the skies.


Angels are climbing up and down and on top there is God that promises Jacob to be his guide and protector. God promises Jacob to be the lord of the land with prosperity and a bright future.


In the morning Jacob awakes, remembering his dream he says that this is the gate to heaven. He takes the stone from under his head and affixes it as a monument to his metaphysical experience; thus he calls the place, the House of God.


This is the plain story and for many years I wondered what is behind this strange dream.


Usually dreams are a summary of our past experiences (Freud) or use a collective, inherited wisdom in times of crisis and dilemma about our future (Yung). But this kind of dream is totally symbolic in the sense that there’s no past experience of this nature in Jacob's life, and there wasn’t any specific action Jacob had to do at this time other than escape his brother Esab and to fulfill his father's order to visit Haran, his mother's homeland, in order to find his bribe there.


My interpretation of this dream is depicted in many of my art works and articles. In my view this is not a dream but a clear vision Jacob had about the human nature and his future.


The ladder is an ancient symbol of transformation. Giants don't need ladders, as fully developed human beings don't need temples and shrines.

The ladder in Jacob's dream is rooted in the ground that symbolizes the physical level. Its top is in the skies so the journey of the angels is from the physical earth, ground and body, to the metaphysical spirit, refined existence, heaven.


The angels are angels of transformation; they are first climbing then descending. The Bible is very accurate in its words, the angels start from the ground and first climb upwards, and then they return to the ground and climb again. This Sisyphean movement is symbolic of the human journey, an eternal quest to what is above the physical ground, a seeking of spiritual elevation. The skies here are but another symbol of refinement and close to a core place where the faith and purpose of life can be inspected.


The physical body of Jacob is still lying on the ground. It is written in God’s blessing that he will give Jacob the land on which he lies not on which he stands. The understanding of this sentence can lie in the fact that human beings don t need their legs for personal development, it is their minds that can envision dreams and create the symbolic codes to decipher human life enigma.


It is not about personal development or awakening. This dream is about the human quest for refinement which is an eternal quest with no beginning or end, that must start from the ground and in human eyes should be heads up towards a higher essence of existence that can’t be found on the ground but rather in the refined air of the upper skies.


In the writings of the Kabbala the ladder is rooted in the Zeer Anpin, the first 7 stages of the Sphirot. The last 3 stages in the eternal human spirit ladder are not physical but divine stages that are kept for angels.


Have magic in your life


Ted Barr

Ramat Hasharon, October 2014