The Mystery in Sullam: The Hebrew Word for Ladder

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What was Jacob’s Ladder? What event actually took place there? Was this merely a dream? Will there be a connection to Messiah in the Hebrew word Sullam or ladder? Let’s find out.

The very first book of the Ancient Prophetic Scriptures is the book of Genesis. In it, there remains an unusual account of a dream by a young man named Jacob.

Jacob was the younger of two twin sons born to his father Isaac. Through trickery, Jacob had stolen the birthright of his older brother Esau and was fleeing from him for safety. This birthright held claim to both an inheritance and a blessing, and Jacob feared Esau would kill him for it. 

As night began to fall Jacob stopped to rest for the night at a remote place called Luz. In Genesis Chapter 28 verses 11 and 12 an amazing event is recorded for us.  

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.  And he 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. 

The word translated ladder is Sullam. Because this Hebrew word appears nowhere else in scripture it’s somewhat difficult to describe, but because there are other Hebrew words for staircase and none of them were used this must be something different. 

It is valuable for us to note that this was a dream. This event took place before the Torah was given to man, and during this period YHWH sometimes revealed Himself through visions and dreams.

What might the Hebrew pictographs show us that would help us better describe what happened here? 
Sullam is spelled Samech Lamed Mem. 

Ancient Hebrew     

Modern Hebrew

Samech is the picture of the prop and means to support, to twist slowly, to turn, or to assist.  

Ancient Hebrew    

Modern Hebrew                                                                                    

Lamed is the picture of the shepherd’s staff and means to control, to urge forward, to have authority, or it means the voice of authority.
Ancient Hebrew    

Modern Hebrew                                                                                     

Mem is the picture of liquid and can be chaotic mighty waters of destruction like a tsunami or gentle water coming down like a stream.  It refers to the living waters and the word of God that brings life.

Clearly, in these pictures, someone is being supported and in a sense assisted by this amazing ladder.  But who is that?  It’s the angels who are descending and ascending on this Sullam.  And what are angels?  The very word angel means messenger.  Although there is no record of any conversation by the angels, their very presence brings Jacob the message YHWH is always near. Angels always come in the authority of their God YHWH.

But what is the significance of the Mem in Sullam? For that, we should first ask who is at the top of the Sullam in heaven.

The very next verse tells us. In Genesis Chapter 28 verse 13 we read:

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, and to thy seed.  

The ladder is the instrument by which the word of God flows down to Jacob and brings him the blessing of YHWH.

Even though this word for ladder appears only once and nowhere else in our scriptures, is there any other place in our Ancient Text that we might find something written that parallels this? Amazingly, yes there is.

The Apostle John, who was called the beloved disciple of Yeshua, mentions another ladder to heaven. John quotes Yeshua as He teaches his disciples, and John writes the following in Chapter 1 verse 51:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. 

Yeshua is Himself the ladder, the Sullam. Our access to heaven is not just through Him, He is the access. He doesn’t merely point the way to the Father in heaven. He is the way.

As John writes in Chapter 14 verse 6 of his gospel with again Yeshua speaking:

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

Now we can see that the ladder, the Sullam, that Jacob saw in his dream was only a picture of one to come in the future. Yeshua, who is the Living Water, will under the authority of His Father be the Samech that supports the word of God that brings life to us. 

The letters in the word Sullam are also numbers. Wherever we find those numbers in scripture and we see how they are used, we consequently see what meanings they hold.

Samech   is the number 60 and means pride. 

Lamed  is the number 30 and refers to the blood sacrifice of Christ.

Mem  is the number 40 and indicates trials or probation or a probationary period that results in renewal.

What can we learn from this? At this point in his life, Jacob is running in fear and is not even sure that the stolen blessing will ever really be his.  When the Sullam appears, YHWH demonstrates that He is putting away Jacob’s pride and ending the ongoing probation and trial that has become Jacob’s life. Instead, YHWH is going to bless Jacob and confirm the right of the blessing and inheritance to him.  

Ultimately that blessing will come in the blood sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Christ.  As John recorded for us, Messiah is the one who will be our Sullam.  Messiah will be our way to the Father in heaven and the pathway for the blessings of that Father in heaven down to us.  

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Monique says:

    Thank you for this translation and study.

  2. Patricia Edward says:

    I love this!! Thank you am delighted to be learning a little of this amazing language.
    The fellowship i attened for 20 years & still would if i could is called sulim Yacov.

  3. Alice Engle says:

    I love these teaching’s .
    Thank You very much,

    Shalom, Alechem, Alitza Bat Malach 🙂

  4. Weldon West says:

    I am amazed and blessed as every word in Hebrew is totally incredible. No man could have ever done this .
    Praise God I do love this so.
    In my trying to learn Hebrew Has really helped me in learning and remembering the scriptures.

  5. deb says:

    wonderful teaching!

  6. Mark Gwynn says:

    I never thought of Jacob’s ladder vision in that context! Very good word study. I’ve read through the scripture 22 times and it’s studies like this that bring God’s word to a better understanding!

  7. Louise Perez says:

    This is what I’ve been searching for. I new the Scriptures were more than just words. They are alive, each word, each letter filled with its ow message that connects us with our Creator.

  8. Evelyn McBride says:

    I have often wondered about this word for ladder. Thank you for being Yeshua’s messenger.

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