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Jacob’s Travels (Alternate Map)

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Jacob's Dream at Bethel

Jacob leaves Beersheba and flees to Haran in c.1703BC. Travelling north, he rests for the night at Luz (Bethel) and has an amazing dream.

Jacob Flees From Laban

Laban’s sons are furious with their cousin Jacob, so Jacob flees secretly from Haran. He puts his wives and children on camels and crosses ‘the river’ (the River Euphrates) then heads for the hill country of Gilead.

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

Jacob sets off from Mizpah in the hill country of Gilead and is met en route by angels (messengers) sent by God. Jacob exclaims, “This is the camp of God” and calls the place Mahanaim.

Jacob Sends Messengers Esau

Jacob remembers that, when he left Canaan twenty years earlier, his brother Esau had threatened to kill him. So he sends messengers to Esau in the land of Seir (Edom), and prepares a gift of goats, sheep and camels to pacify him.

Jacob Wrestles With God

Jacob crosses the ford of the River Jabbok (the modern River Zarqa) at Mahanaim under cover of darkness.
Jacob wrestles all night alone with God, seeking his blessing. God gives Jacob the name ‘Israel’, meaning ‘He struggles with God’. Jacob calls the place Peniel (‘face of God’) as he has seen God face to face.

Jacob Meets Esau

Jacob meets Esau by the River Jabbok. Jacob is scared because, when he was younger, he cheated Esau out of his birthright (see Genesis 27:1-40). But Esau has long since forgiven Jacob and is delighted to see him. He is persuaded to accept Jacob’s gifts.

Jacob to Succoth

Esau returns to Seir (Edom), but Jacob follows the track downstream and erects shelters for his cattle at Succoth (meaning ‘shelters’) on the floor of the Jordan Valley.

Jacob to Shechem

Jacob arrives at Shechem in c.1691BC (see Genesis 12:6-7) where he buys some land for a tomb from the sons of Hamor and sets up an altar called El Elohe Yisrael (Hebrew, meaning ‘God, the God of Israel’ or ‘God, the God of Jacob’). Jacob’s son Joseph is later buried in this tomb when his body is brought back from Egypt in c.1405BC (see Joshua 24:32). Joseph’s tomb can still be seen today in Shechem (modern-day Nablus)

Jacob Returns to Bethel

God sends Jacob to Bethel (the site of Jacob's dream - see Genesis 28:17). Before leaving Shechem, Jacob buries all the foreign gods that his wives brought from Haran under an oak tree. He arrives at Bethel (Luz) and builds an altar to God called El Bethel(‘God of Bethel’).

Isaac Dies

Jacob arrives back at his father Isaac’s home at Hebron. Shortly after, Isaac dies, and Jacob and Esau bury their father in the family tomb at Machpelah Cave.

Click colored sequential icons for summaries and scripture links.

Foundation – iBible Maps | Event Summary – The Bible Journey | Scripture Links – Bible Gateway



Having fled for his life from Beersheba, Jacob settled down for the night at Luz. While asleep, he dreamed of a ladder - or stairway - leading up to heaven, with angels going up and down. In his dream, the LORD renewed his covenant promise to give the land of Canaan to Jacob and his descendants. God also promised that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” through Jacob’s offspring (Genesis 28:14). Jacob was awestruck and declared “This place ... is surely the house of God” (Genesis 28:17). He set up a stone pillar as an altar and re-named the place Bethel (‘Beth-el’ means ‘House of God’).

The site of Bethel is now occupied by the Palestinian West Bank village of Beitin, on the outskirts of Al-Bireh, 3 miles / 5 km to the northeast of RamallahBeitin was a prosperous town during Roman times, and still contains the remains of a Byzantine monastery built to commemorate Jacob’s dream. An ancient tower now marks the spot where it is believed Jacob had his vision of the ladder leading up to heaven and where, earlier, Abraham built an altar on his journey south from Shechem to the Negev Desert (see Genesis 12:8-9).

Source: The Bible Journey


Haran is one of the oldest cities on earth that is still inhabited today. Founded by settlers migrating west from Mesopotamia in the 18th century BC, the city was at its peak during the Hittite Empire, based on Central Anatolia in the 12th century BC. It was already centuries old when the Hittites fought Ramesses II of Egypt at the Battle of Kadesh in 939 BC.

Modern travellers to Harran (Haran), near Altinbaşak in eastern Turkey, can sense the antiquity of the settlement when they encounter its decaying walls, the ruins of the ancient 11th century citadel, and the remains of the Old Mosque. Haran is famous for its unique beehive-shaped mudbrick houses that originated in the 3rd century BC and which have been rebuilt in the same style many times during the intervening centuries.

Traditional bee-hive shaped houses at Harran  (Glumik)

The Vale of Jezreel

The Jezreel Valley from Megiddo  (Joe Freeman)

The Vale of Jezreel (the ‘Valley of Israel’ – also known as the Plain of Esdraelon) was an important lowland corridor running from south east to north west, linking the Jordan Valley near Beth Sheanto the coastal plain north of Mount Carmel (near the modern city of Haifa). At the coastal end, this lowland routeway joined up with the Via Maris – the ‘Way of the Sea’ which ran along the coastal plain linking the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Near its junction with the coastal plain, the Vale of Jezreel was guarded and controlled by the well-defended fortress at Megiddo – Biblical ‘Armageddon’.

Because of its strategic position, the Jezreel Valley was the site of many battles. The earliest recorded confrontation pre-dates the Israelite invasion of Canaan. During the 15th century BC, the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III defeated a Canaanite coalition under the kings of Kedesh and Megiddo at the Battle of Megiddo, fought in the Valley of Jezreel.

Over two hundred years later, in c.1208BC, Midianites and Amalekites crossed the River Jordan and headed north west along the Vale of Jezreel to plunder and ravage the lands along the fertile coastal plain. Calling together men from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, Gideon defeated the Midianites on the valley floor just north of Mount Gilboa (see Judges 6:33-35 & 7:1-25). Gideon, himself, was born in the Vale of Jezreel at Ophrah – usually identified as the modern-day city of Afula (see Judges 6:11 & 24).

Later, in 1011 BC, Saul – the first king of Israel – was killed by the Philistines at the Battle of Gilboa, overlooking the Vale of Jezreel, and his corpse was displayed on the walls of Beth Shean (see 1 Samuel 28:4, 29:1 & 31:1-10). Four hundred years later, in 610BC, King Josiah of Judah was killed at Megiddo by Pharoah Neco of Egypt, when Josiah tried to prevent the Egyptian king from crossing the Jezreel Valley en route to Assyria (see 2 Kings 23:29).

Source: The Bible Journey

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