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Monday, October 26, 2015

Jacob Left Beer-Sheva



Jacob left Beer-Sheva and set out for Haran. Long he wandered on the way, through forested hills and swamps, over desert dunes and coastal plains. For a time he followed the erratic path of a whiskered cat that seemed to know the way. That feline led him to the city of Ulthar, where “no man may kill a cat,” but then deserted him to wander again on his own. After a time Jacob came to a certain place [coordinates redacted-National Security] and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set and it was very dark. There was no moon. Jacob lit a fire to warm his body.

Taking one of the rounded stones he found there (a philosopher’s stone, as it turns out, though he did not recognize it as such…) he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And all through that moonless night he had a chemystical dream. He saw a sloped ramp stairway from the earth into the heavens, from the ground into space. He counted the steps-there were 15,000 arranged in 15 plateaus of 1,000 stairs, for the 15 steps in the Temple of Jerusalem between the ante-court of Israel and the Women’s court, and also for the 15 Psalms of Degrees. (Never mind that neither had the Temple of Jerusalem been built nor the Psalms of Degrees been composed when the peripatetic, fugitive twin set his head upon that alchemical stone. If dreams pay no heed to chronology, then neither shall we.) The ladder rose up into that moonless sky, up to stark mountain heights, and there to the dream palaces of Castle Kadath in the cold wastes.

The wing footed messenger angels of God traversed the 15,000 steps, up and down, down and up, from heaven to earth and back again, with top secret communiques for undercover field agents in every nation-the watchers, who are the eyes of God. The messenger angels carried eyes-only, encoded documents up and down, through time and space. He saw comet angels with million mile tales burning without oxygen in the terrifying expanse of noiseless space, streaking towards nameless places on the far side of the galaxy where The Name is known by other Names.

Suddenly the LORD, [by whatever name] was standing on it, on him, with one foot in the clouds and one foot on his head. And standing there with one foot on this earth and one foot in the Magellanic Clouds, HaShem spoke. 

What does the high king of heaven, Lord of time and space say to the vagabond thief, the grifter on the lam, the estranged brother who enraged his family and then fled? What does the ruler of infinite worlds say to a sleeping hooligan with his head upon a strange stone on a moonless night? What reason for their meeting? Why, what other reason than divine dictate? No other reason is needed, and none other will be given. Suddenly the Lord the LORD was there, standing there on the clouds, on the ramp, on Jacob’s head, saying, “I am the LORD [by this name or another], the god of your father, father Abraham, and the god of laughing Isaac. I will give you and yours the land upon which you are lying.

“You are like the dust-blowing and drifting on the aimless wind, blown here and there by fickle desires, and like the dust I shall make you and all yours with you. You will spread out to the WEST where the Great Sea rumbles and roars, to the EAST over rivers and into the dawn. You will spread out to the NORTH, through enemy lands and grasping hands to frozen mountains and beyond, to the SOUTH around the horn and back again.

“And as you go I will protect you from enemies of every kind, from monstrous beasts with fangs and claws, and innumerable, sightless eyes, and from human agents and regents wishing to exploit the strength of your hands and the sweat of your brow, and these are ten times worse than fangs, and claws, and cataract clouded eyes. I will not leave you until I have done everything I have promised; after that, you’re on your own.”

When fearless Jacob, who feared neither god nor man, awoke from this dream he was terrified, as any would be. He awoke sweating and cold. The campfire had burned out long before. “Surely,” he said, “this is the dreaming palace of the house of God, and I have been hanging around heaven’s gate.” He built a sacred pillar with his makeshift pillow as the crowning capstone. And over this stele he poured spikenard oil. He called the place “Beth-el” but the locals still referred to it as “Luz.”

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