Context: Esau comes to hate his brother Jacob because their father, Isaac, says that Esau shall serve Jacob. So great is Esau's hatred that he vows he will kill Jacob. Rebekah, their mother, learning of her older son's vow of hate, arranges with Isaac to send the younger son to Padanaram, to stay for a time with Rebekah's brother, Laban. When Jacob leaves home his father bids him choose a wife from among the daughters of Laban. Jacob sets out with his parents' blessings and instructions, leaving Beersheba to travel toward Haran. When sunset comes he is upon the road, where he stops, makes a pillow of stones, and falls asleep. During the night he has a dream, in which he sees a ladder reaching to heaven, and he hears the voice of God making a prophesy about him:
And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed:
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.