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12 and had a dream.[a] He saw[b] a stairway[c] erected on the earth with its top reaching to the heavens. The angels of God were going up and coming down it 13 and the Lord stood at its top. He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac.[d] I will give you and your descendants the ground[e] you are lying on. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth,[f] and you will spread out[g] to the west, east, north, and south. And so all the families of the earth may receive blessings[h] through you and through your descendants.

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  1. Genesis 28:12 tn Heb “and dreamed.”
  2. Genesis 28:12 tn Heb “and look.” The scene which Jacob witnessed is described in three clauses introduced with הִנֵּה (hinneh). In this way the narrator invites the reader to witness the scene through Jacob’s eyes. J. P. Fokkelman points out that the particle goes with a lifted arm and an open mouth: “There, a ladder! Oh, angels! and look, the Lord himself” (Narrative Art in Genesis [SSN], 51-52).
  3. Genesis 28:12 tn The Hebrew noun סֻלָּם (sullam, “ladder, stairway”) occurs only here in the OT, but there appears to be an Akkadian cognate simmiltu (with metathesis of the second and third consonants and a feminine ending) which has a specialized meaning of “stairway, ramp.” See H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena (SBLDS), 34. For further discussion see C. Houtman, “What Did Jacob See in His Dream at Bethel? Some Remarks on Genesis 28:10-22, ” VT 27 (1977): 337-52; J. G. Griffiths, “The Celestial Ladder and the Gate of Heaven,” ExpTim 76 (1964/65): 229-30; and A. R. Millard, “The Celestial Ladder and the Gate of Heaven,” ExpTim 78 (1966/67): 86-87.
  4. Genesis 28:13 tn Heb “the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.” The Hebrew word for “father” can typically be used in a broader sense than the English word, in this case referring to Abraham (who was Jacob’s grandfather). For stylistic reasons and for clarity, the words “your father” are supplied with “Isaac” in the translation.
  5. Genesis 28:13 tn The Hebrew term אֶרֶץ (ʾerets) can mean “[the] earth,” “land,” “region,” “piece of ground,” or “ground” depending on the context. Here the term specifically refers to the plot of ground on which Jacob was lying, but at the same time this stands by metonymy for the entire land of Canaan.
  6. Genesis 28:14 tn This is the same Hebrew word translated “ground” in the preceding verse.
  7. Genesis 28:14 tn The verb is singular in the Hebrew; Jacob is addressed as the representative of his descendants.
  8. Genesis 28:14 tn The translation understands the Niphal stem to be middle voice here; the normal passive for בָּרַךְ (barakh) is Pual. The middle voice may be expressed here as “they may consider themselves blessed,” “they may receive/find blessing,” “the may become blessed.” See the notes at 12:3 and 18:18.

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