Scripture Reference: Genesis 28:10-29:30
Story Overview: On his way to Haran, Jacob stopped and spent the night out in the open. While asleep he dreamed of a stairway stretching between heaven and earth on which angels were ascending and descending. The Lord was above it. In the dream the Lord told Jacob that the promise that was given to Abraham and Isaac would also be Jacob’s promise. After arriving in Haran Jacob fell in love with Rachel but he was tricked into marrying her sister. In the end Jacob married both women. Jacob had tricked his father but now he learned what it meant to be the one tricked.
Suggested Emphasis or Theme: Sometimes we learn lessons from bad things that happen to us.
|Background Study||Way to Introduce the Story||The Story|
|Review Questions||Craft and Activity Ideas||Other Online Resources|
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Have a number of different types of pillows and let the children vote on which is the most comfortable one to sleep on. Be sure and include a large stone among the choices. Discuss the comforts and discomforts of each choice. “Remember how Jacob tricked his father and brother in last week’s story? Jacob’s parents sent him on a trip to see his relatives in Haran. They wanted him to find a wife there. On the first night of the journey Jacob slept out in the open. He used a stone for his pillow. After all of the bad things that Jacob did, he was about to learn some good lessons from the Lord.”
Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the family blessing that should have gone to Esau. Esau was so angry that he planned to kill Jacob. Jacob and Esau’s mother, Rebekah, heard what Esau had said, “You must leave this house immediately,” she told Jacob. “Hurry to your Uncle Laban’s house in Haran. Stay there until your brother gets over being so angry. Then you can come back home again.”
Isaac also thought it was a good idea for Jacob to go to visit his uncle. “If you stay here you might marry a Canaanite girl who worships idols. That would never do! Your uncle has some daughters who are lovely girls. They worship the true God. I want you to marry one of them,” Isaac said. Jacob obeyed his father and left for his long journey to visit his Uncle Laban.
One evening he stopped to camp along the way. He found a smooth stone for a pillow and lay down on the ground to sleep. Jacob must have been frightened and lonely. He had really treated his father and his brother badly. Now he had to be all alone and away from his family. While he was lying there on the ground, he probably thought about how bad things were for him. Do you think Jacob was sorry? Do you think he had learned his lesson?
When you sleep do you ever dream? Sometimes we have good dreams and sometimes we have scary dreams. But Jacob had a beautiful dream. He dreamed that a stairway reached from the ground all the way into heaven! And on that long ladder he saw angels going up and down! And who do you think was at the top of the ladder? God! Jacob heard God say, “I am the God of your grandfather Abraham and your father Isaac. The ground you are lying on is yours. I will give it to you and your children and your children’s children. You will be the father of a great nation. There will be many children and they will populate this land.” God also promised to be with Jacob’s family and protect them.
Then Jacob woke up. “I’ve stumbled into heaven where God lives! He exclaimed. The next morning Jacob got up very early and placed the stone on which he’d been sleeping on its side. It was like an altar. He poured olive oil on it and named the special place Bethel. He prayed, “Oh God, if you protect me and give me food and shelter on this journey, I will always remember you as the true God. This place will be a special place of remembrance. Jacob now knew that God wanted him to be good. He would be the leader of a very big family. Someone from his family would bring blessings to the whole world. He knew he was not alone—God was with him. Even though it was bad to be away from his family, Jacob had learned a lesson. Now he would try to live for God because God would always be with him.
When Jacob finally arrived in Haran, he met his Uncle Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel. Laban also had another daughter, Leah, who was not as beautiful. Leah was older than Rachel. Everyone was very happy to see Jacob.
Jacob worked hard helping Laban tend his sheep. After he had been there a month, Laban wanted to know how much he should pay Jacob. Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel so he had an idea. He told Laban that he would work for him for seven whole years and at the end of that time, Laban could give Rachel to Jacob as a wife. Laban agreed.
After seven years the time came for Jacob and Rachel to get married. Do you remember how Jacob had been deceitful and played a trick on his father, Isaac? Now Jacob was the one that was tricked! Instead of Rachel, Laban gave his older daughter, Leah, to Jacob. Jacob could not see Leah so he thought he was marrying Rachel. The next morning, when the sun came up, Jacob saw that his new wife was Leah!
Jacob was very angry with Laban. Sometimes men in the Old Testament had more than one wife. Laban finally said that he would let Jacob marry Rachel too. After he married Rachel he would have to work another seven years for Laban. Rachel and Jacob got married but Jacob always loved Rachel the most.
Now Jacob really learned a lesson. He had tricked his father and now he had been tricked. Now he knew how that felt! Even though a bad thing happened to Jacob, he learned a lesson.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
- Why did Jacob leave his families’ home and go to Haran? Esau wanted to kill him for stealing the family blessing.
- What did Jacob use for a pillow one night when he was travelling to Haran? A smooth stone
- What did Jacob see in his dream? A ladder between heaven and earth with angels going up and down on the ladder. God was at the top of the ladder.
- What were the names of Laban’s daughters? Rachel and Leah.
- After working seven years, Laban said Jacob could marry Rachel. What happened? Laban tricked him into marrying Leah instead.
- What happened when Jacob found out that he had been tricked? He married Rachel too and then worked another seven years.
Craft and Activity Ideas:
- To recreate the story, set up a ladder in the room and have the children draw or make angels and place them on the steps.
- Use a paper or real rock for the children to lay their head on while listening to the story.
- Walk outside and let the children find a stone that they think would be a comfortable pillow.
- Make angels for a craft project.
- Have children make puppets and perform a show to retell the story.
- Let children share some of the dreams they have had.
- Put a towel, sheet, or piece of cloth on the head of one of the students and let them represent Jacob. Conduct the class like an interview and let the children ask Jacob questions.
- Paint rocks.
- Talk about bad things that have happened in your life and what you have learned from them.
- Discuss Romans 8:28
- Sing “Father Abraham“.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
- Find other ideas on the Pinterest Board “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob“
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets about Jacob and Esau at http://calvarycurriculum.org/pdf/Curriculum/Original/Curriculum/CURR022.PDF
- Jacob’s Dream colouring page and puzzle worksheets (Jacob’s Dream) at http://calvarycurriculum.org/pdf/Curriculum/Original/Curriculum/CURR024.PDF
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets about Rachel and Leah at http://calvarycurriculum.org/pdf/Curriculum/Original/Curriculum/CURR025.PDF
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets about a later evernt when Jacob’s name was changed to Israel at http://calvarycurriculum.org/pdf/Curriculum/Original/Curriculum/CURR027.PDF
- Colouring page of Romans 8:28 at http://www.teacherhelp.org/pdf/Romans%208-28niv.pdf
- Craft: Directions for building a pretzel ladder at http://www.dltk-bible.com/recipes/craftysnacks.htm
- Various activities and puzzles specifically about Rachel at http://gardenofpraise.com/bibl82s.htm
- Various activities and puzzles specifically about Leah at http://gardenofpraise.com/bibl83s.htm
- A good selection of both online and printable puzzles, activities and story words covering Jacob’s entire life) at http://gardenofpraise.com/bibl4s.htm