The *previous posting* ended with Jacob about to begin a long journey from his home town of Beersheba in Canaan, to Haran in Mesopotamia. It being almost always cloudless and hot in that area of the world, and having to ride on a camel all day, day after day, week after week, with no such things as air-conditioned five-star hotels to stay in each night, Jacob anticipated a journey that would be an ordeal. So the least he could do was to lessen his discomfort as much as possible.
Hence at the end of an exhausting first day on the road when Jacob found himself in the town of Luz, he stopped there for the night. Since the sun had set, he thought he would sleep on a stoney patch of ground just outside the town. Jacob found a stone big enough to be used as a pillow, and lay down to sleep. Despite Jacob’s being regarded as a mother’s boy by his brother Esau, there was still a sufficient amount of the non-mother’s-boy left in him to enable him successfully to sleep despite his stone pillow.
That night Jacob dreamed a dream so vivid that he never ever forgot it. In the dream was a ladder that stretched from the ground all the way up to heaven. Angels, which Jacob assumed were of God, were walking up and down the ladder. The prone and dreaming Jacob saw a big fiercesome-looking man standing over him. His first thought was that it was Esau, and he felt his bowels loosen. Then he heard the big fiercesome man say, “I’m God.” Jacob breathed out with huge relief.
God said to Jacob, “The land on which you are lying and the land far and wide around it, I’m going to give to you and your descendants, of whom there will be as many as all the particles of dust on earth. I will be with you and I will protect you. I won’t cease doing so until I’ve done all that I’ve promised.”
Jacob woke up. He looked up into the huge night-sky and the twinkling stars that dotted it all over. He could hear nothing except the chirp of crickets.
“Was it really God in my dream?” thought Jacob, “And was it really a ladder going up to heaven? If God really was in the dream, did He mean it when He said I would have all those descendants? And did He mean it when He said He would always protect me? Perhaps, though, it was just another of those silly and inconsequential dreams I always have.”
An unpleasant smell assailed Jacob’s nostrils, and he felt a wetness in his behind. Then he remembered the part in the dream when felt his bowels loosen. So they had actually loosened, for there was no mistaking the distinctive smell and the wet behind. The dream, then, must have had substance, and God must have really been in it. So he, Jacob, would no longer have to fear Esau, because God had said in the dream that He would always protect him. Jacob was so filled with happiness that he forgot the smell and his messy behind.
After a while Jacob’s initial euphoria subsided, and his attention was again drawn to the smell and his messy behind. He got up, retrieved the roll of papyrus which he kept for cleaning himself after the calls of nature, and began on making himself smell-free. This took longer than Jacob thought it would, for his garments and bedding were soiled and smelly too, and were difficult to clean with not too much water around.
Having got rid of most of the terrible smell, Jacob began thinking of how he could honour the town of Luz, for he had concluded from his dream that where Luz was, was the house of God and the gate of heaven. He took his stone pillow, set it up as a sacred pillar and poured oil over it. At the same time he re-named Luz, Beth-el, which means “House of God”.
Jacob then resumed his journey to Haran………..
Source: Genesis 28, 10-22