Rocks make cushy pillows?

I have done enough camping and sleeping outdoors to know that rocks are not what you want to place your head on when settling in for the night.

Yet in Genesis 28:11, we read that Jacob, while traveling from Beersheba to Haran, stopped for the night and put a stone under his head for a pillow. How could this be? Why not use something softer? Even the ground would be more comfortable to place one’s head than a rock.

Is something more profound being communicated here? Yes – spiritual symbolism!

Rocks and stones symbolize the ideas or principles we use as the foundation or basis for our thinking  (just as the mineral kingdom supports the plant kingdom). To lay one’s head on a stone or rock further represents a concept that the mind (head) can find comfort and rest upon (we cannot rest our minds or find tranquility on troublesome ideas). This is supported by the fact that Jacob handpicked and chose the particular stone. The rock represented his idea of what constituted truth.

Putting one’s head down on a rock also symbolizes a meeting, connection and communication between higher and lower things, such as spirit and earth. This symbolism of communication between higher and lower things is continued into Jacob’s dream of viewing angels going up and down a stairway (or ladder) between earth and heaven. At the top of the ladder, God communicates to Jacob below.

God tells Jacob that he will receive the land that he was laying on. The land in this case represents spiritual real estate—that Jacob would be given the Lord’s kingdom. Why? The truth (rock) that Jacob rested his head on represented that he had picked the proper spiritual principle that would allow for communication with God. Such communication requires that one’s mind rests on the right principles in order that its activity and life can properly be oriented (from top to bottom) to God’s heavenly order and tenets.

When Jacob decides to use the rock for a religious pillar and puts oil all over it, he is acting out a metaphor demonstrating that proper worship to God must have its basis in well-chosen principles that represent true religious doctrine. Pouring oil on the stone signifies that love also has to be combined with the intellectual aspect of choosing the proper ideas of faith—so that it becomes living faith.

Therefore the story of Jacob’s dream is more than a mere historical account of a traveler nodding-out and having a divine vision that good things lie ahead. It symbolizes the spiritual journey and process each one of us must experience in order to inherit the Lord God’s heavenly kingdom (represented by the land of Canaan).

We all play a role in the stories of Scripture. In fact, each of us is the main character!


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s