Jacob's Ladder

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Puritan Board Sophomore
I know that Mike Horton (at least in In The Face of God) takes the ladder or stairway that Jacob saw to be a Mesopotamian ziggurat (which makes sense to me). I was wondering whether this was certain, probably, or unlikely. At least as far as I can tell, Matthew Henry and Calvin just denote it as a ladder.

Any thoughts on this from elders and others?

Also, if it was something resembling a ziggurat, is that to be seen as connected to Babel at all? As in, man tries to ascend to heaven by his own strength, but the real House of God and gate of heaven is by God's appointment and God's revelation (prefiguring Christ)?

I mean I know those thoughts might be edifying, but are they "grounded" in the text, and not just speculation?

The BDB lexicon simply states it as being a ladder, the HALOT defines it as an "ascending series of stones, staircase (more probable than ladder)", which would provide you with a link to the structure of a ziggurat.

The problem that we have with knowing with certainty if this is the case, is that neither of these lexical entries give root/loan word data, or any other background material as to why they came to that definition, which is something that they normally do. I only have the abridged study edition of the HALOT at this time, so it is possible that the full version includes this supporting information (referencing scholarly journals and whatnot).

The word "sulam" is only found here in Scripture, so comparative studies within the canon wouldn't be of any help.

Anyone here with the unabridged HALOT, or the newer, multivolume set of the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew want to take a stab at it (although I don't think they've quite made it to the letter "samek" yet)?
Sermon on Gen. 28:10-22
In this context, then, of exhaustion, of fear, of exposure, of want, of the feeling of being cast out, and of mission-impossible, Jacob begins to dream. And this is no ordinary dream. The content of the dream is pretty simple. (v.12) Jacob beholds a ladder, or it would be better to conceive of this structure as a staircase, its bottom was on the ground, and its top in heaven, the dwelling place of God. And the angelic ministers of God were streaming up and down it, ascending and descending. And (v.13) “behold” it is a command, an exhortation to attend, take note of this, “The Lord stood above it,” as reads most translations. But I would have you take the marginal reading in many of your Bibles, which says, “above him, or over or beside him.” This passage is emphasizing the nearness of God to Jacob, as well as his authority and claim upon him. You should also consider that the Lord converses with Jacob, rather than calling out or down to him. This ladder or stair is not intended for angels, but for God, who has come down to his elect. As one commentator put it, in the Tower of Babel, men engage in an absurd attempt to build a stairway to heaven, one to which the Lord comes down, down to notice. But when God sets in his own stair, he does so instantly and effortlessly, and bridges the whole distance.
Does Mr. Horton prove that the Tower of Babel is a zigguraut, or does he only assume it?

As others have said, the point is that while Jacob thought he was alone and forsaken, he finds that the Lord condescends to His people. And, as is proved in John 1.51 that condescension is personified in Christ, who is Himself the stair between heaven and earth.

I rather doubt that the inhabitants of Babel were attempting to "get to God", but to "make themselves a name". They have no knowledge of their being lost and alone, they had all they needed from themselves. Jacob, thinking himself lost and alone, the Lord reveals to him His geat condescension to show him that he is never forsaken, no matter how needy he thinks himself.
As I recall, he just mentions its a high probability. I was just thinking about it today; I hadn't actually read the book in awhile. I agree with the points made and appreciate the responses. I realize the main thrust is about the Lord's condescension and the mediatorship of Christ (a la John 1), I was just wondering about whether it was a ladder/stairway/temple-type structure.

I know its not central to the story, just a side-point of interest.

Thanks again.
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