A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Jacob's dream of a staircase to heaven


After Jacob had cheated his elder twin Esau out of the blessing that should have gone to him, his father Isaac sent Jacob off to his uncle’s home, to escape his brother’s anger and to find a wife.

Jacob's ladderWhile Jacob was travelling, one night he stayed at a place called Luz. During the night, he had a dream of a stairway reaching up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending it. At its top he heard the voice of God telling him that his descendants would inherit all the land that he was now in. Jacob was told that his descendants would multiply so much that they would be compared to the dust of the earth. Through Jacob and his descendants all peoples on earth would be blessed. God declared that he would never leave Jacob but watch over him wherever he went and that ultimately his family would be brought back to that place. 

When Jacob awoke, he was in awe of what had happened there and concluded that it was the house of God and that the stairway led to the gate of heaven. He set up a stone monument and called the place Bethel (which means ‘house of God’).

The story illustrates:

  • God shows himself to people in surprising ways, times and places
  • God loves to bless people and show them a foretaste of his plans for them.

Related topics

Big ideas from the Bible: Dreams, visions and prophecy; Patriarchs; Ascent and descent

Bible References

Genesis 28:10-19
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