3. A. Bar Qappara taught on Tannaite authority, "There is no dream with out a proper interpretation.
B. " 'That there was a ladder:' refers to the ramp to the altar.
C. "'... set up on the earth:' that is the altar, 'An altar of dirt you will make for me' (Ex. 20:24).
D. "'. . . and the top of it reached to heaven:' these are the offerings, for their fragrance goes up to heaven.
E. "'. . . and behold, the angels of God:' these are the high priests.
F. " '. . . were ascending and descending on it:' for they go up and go down on the ramp.
G. " 'And behold, the Lord stood above it:' 'I saw the Lord standing by the altar' (Amos 9:1)."
4. A. Rabbis interpreted the matter to prefigure Sinai: " 'And he dreamed:
B. "'. . . that there was a ladder:' this refers to Sinai.
C. "'. . . set up on the earth:' 'And they stood at the lower part of the mountain' (Ex. 19:17).
D. "'. . . and the top of it reached to heaven:' 'And the mountain burned with fire into the heart of heaven' (Deut. 4:11).
E. "'. . . and behold, the angels of God:' these are Moses and Aaron.
F. " '. . . were ascending:' 'And Moses went up to God' (Ex. 19:3).
G. "'. . . and descending on it:' 'And Moses went down from the mount' (Ex. 19:14).
F. "'. . . And behold, the Lord stood above it:' 'And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai' (Ex. 19:20)."
5. A. Salomaini in the name of R. Simeon b. Laqish: "He showed him a throne with three legs."
B. R. Joshua of Sikhnin in the name of R. Levi: " 'And you are the third of the three legs.'"
C. That accords with the view of R. Joshua in the name of R. Levi: " 'For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the cord of his inheritance' (Deut. 32:9): as a cord cannot be made of less than three strands [so there were three patriarchs, and hence he told Jacob that he would be the third of the three]."
D. R. Berekhiah said, "He showed him a world and a third of the world.
E. " 'Ascending' [in the plural] speaks of at least two angels, and 'descending' speaks of two, and each angel in size is a third of the world [thus a world and a third],
F. "And how do we know that an angel is the size of a third of the world? 'His body also was like the beryl and his face as the appearance of lightning' (Dan. 10:6)."
B. One of them said, " 'They were going up and coming down' on the ladder."
C. The other said, " 'They were going up and coming down' on Jacob."
D. The one who says, " 'They were going up and coming down' on the ladder," has no problems.
E. As to the one who says, " 'They were going up and coming down' on Jacob," the meaning is that they were raising him up and dragging him down, dancing on him, leaping on him, abusing him.
F. For it is said, "Israel, in whom I will be glorified" (Is. 49:3).
G. [So said the angels,] "Are you the one whose visage is incised above?" They would then go up and look at his features and go down and examine him sleeping.
H. The matter may be compared to the case of a king who was in session and judging cases in a judgment chamber. So people go up to the basilica and find him asleep. They go down to the judgment chamber and find him judging cases.
I. Above, whoever speaks in favor of Israel rises up, and whoever condemns Israel goes down. Below, whoever speaks in his favor goes down, and whoever condemns him goes up.
7. A. The angels who accompany a person in the Land do not accompany him outside the Land.
B. "Ascending" are the ones who accompanied him in the land, and "descending" are the ones who will accompany him outside the land.
8. A. R. Levi in the name of R. Samuel: "Because the ministering angels revealed the mystery of the Holy One, blessed be he, [telling Lot what he was about to do], they were sent into exile from their appropriate dwelling for a hundred and thirty-eight years."
B. R. Tanhuma stated it in the word for "stalk," which contains the letters of a numerical value adding up to 138.
C. Said R. Hama bar Hanina, "It was because they puffed themselves up, saying, 'for we are about to destroy this place' (Gen. 19:13)."
D. When did they return? Here: "ascending" and only then "descending." [Freedman, p. 627, n. 3: The banished angels were now permitted to reascend to heaven and then bidden to descend to accompany Jacob.]
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