Jacob Dreams of the Ladder and Wrestles with the Angel

12th century
Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily

Genesis 28:10-22. On the left Jacob sleeps with his head on a stone and dreams of angels ascending and descending a ladder to Heaven, their movements directed by God in Heaven at the top (13-15). In the center is the scene from the following morning. He pours oil over the stone that was his pillow to consecrate it as a shrine and names the shrine Bethel. (The name appears, partly obscured, on the rock below.)

On the right is the episode in Genesis 32:23-33. Jacob wrestles with an angel, who blesses him with the name Israel.

The inscription on the right is vidit iacob scalam summitas eius caelos tangebat, "Jacob saw a ladder. Its top touched the heavens." In the middle the inscription says tulit lapidem et erexit in titulum fundens oleum desup[er], "He took the stone and made of it a shrine, pouring oil over it." In the third inscription the top line is iacob luctatur cum angelo ut benedicatur angelus benedicit e[um], "Jacob wrestles with the angel that he may be blessed. The angel blesses him." The second line is the response of the angel, israhel vocaberis, "you shall be called Israel." The word phanuel labeling the mountain is the name Jacob gave the place in 32:31.

The medallion between the second and third scenes features St. Ignatius of Antioch, "bishop and martyr."

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Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.