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. (Genesis 28:10-11)
It is during this troubling experience that Jacob learned our God is very near even when we feel our lives are being upended and even threatened. As Jacob fled from Esau, he perhaps unknowingly walked right into the presence of the Almighty at Bethel. It was from this sacred place that Jacob took “one of the stones” — a stone, not multiple stones — and set it at his head. In fact, the Jewish commentator Rashi said that it was “the stone.” Why would that be of interest?
In spite of the fact that most of us were taught that Jacob used this stone as a pillow, it is more likely that he used it as a headpiece, a fact that is supported by the Hebrew word used here. That is important because it suggests that Jacob felt the need to place this particular stone at his head rather than underneath his head. Remember that the name Jacob is connected to the idea that he had to protect his head from his nemesis Esau. Apparently Jacob was seeking to use this stone as some sort of protection rather than as a pillow.
Later we discover that this stone will become the foundation stone, or shall we say the cornerstone, of God’s House on Mount Moriah. The fact that this was not just a stone but “the stone” — an important stone — causes an interesting picture to develop. As Isaiah would later declare, this stone portrayed something very prophetic:
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of sure foundation: he that believes shall not be in haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)
That stone, of course, is referring to the Messiah who is also described as the stone that was rejected by the builders only to become “the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). It would seem that the stone Jacob set at his head is a picture of the Messiah. Yeshua is the one who protects His people from their enemies and gives us a Sanctuary to run to in times of distress and need. He follows us through the wilderness of life (1 Corinthians 10:4) and gives living water to sustain us. As Jacob discovered in his time of need, there is a rock that we can run to. David summed it up this way:
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah“ (Psalm 61:1-4)
Blessings and Shalom,