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the Father of the 12 Tribes of Israel
"Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" - Genesis 28
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
The Bible follows the messianic line to Abraham's son, Isaac, and then to Isaac's son, Jacob who lived around 1900 BC. Jacob was a shrewed and deceitful con man who tricked his brother Esau and lied to his father so he could steal his older brothers birthright. Afraid, Jacob fled to Haran, in Mesopotamia, where his uncle Laban lived, but on the way he met the Lord and saw a vision of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven with angels on it. Jacob had his first encounter with God and the Lord revealed to him the promises He had made to Abraham and how he would be part of those promises, so Jacob began to trust in God and named that place, Bethel, which means, "house of God".
Gen 28:10-19 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
"Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously."
When he arrived in Haran, his uncle was more shrewed than he was, con-man meets super con-man. Laban tricked him into working for him for 14 years in exchange for a wife. He wanted Rachel, but he got Leah first and then Rachel. Developing the muscle of trust was a long, slow job for Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons and great possessions when he finally returned to Canaan not because he was more shrewd than Laban but because God was with him. God protected Jacob all the way and also prepared his brother Esau's heart so that he was no longer angry. God changed Jacob's name to "Israel." Jacob was next in the Messianic line. His 12 sons became the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.