Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

Genesis 31: Jacob's Peculiar Dream

Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

Genesis 31: Jacob's Peculiar Dream

Article excerpt

One day, after tarrying 21 years in Haran, Jacob summons his wives Leah and Rachel to his field for a secret communication. He tells them that the time has come to return to the land of his fathers. He offers two reasons: Laban's sons have accused him of building up his wealth by taking it from their father. Furthermore, Laban's attitude toward him has now changed. Jacob then tells his wives about a dream that he has had:

Once, at the mating time of the flocks, I had a dream in which I saw that the he-goats, as they mated, were streaked, speckled, and mottled. And in the dream an angel of God said to me. "Jacob!" "Here I am," I answered. And he said, "Note well that all the he-goats in the flock which are mating are streaked, speckled, and mottled; for I have noted all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Beth-el, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Up, then, leave this land and return to the land of your birth" (Gen. 31:10-13).

Why does the Torah go out of its way to tell us of this peculiar and rather unsavory dream? The purpose becomes clear when we compare this dream to another one that Jacob had 21 years earlier. While fleeing from Esau, Jacob had a dream at Beth-el of a ladder on which angels were ascending and descending. In that dream God offered him promises and reassurance. …

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