And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
Read Chapter 28
Aphrahat the Persian Sage
Now Jacob called that place Bethel; and Jacob raised up there a pillar of stone as a testimony, and he poured oil over it. Our father Jacob did this too in symbol, anticipating that stones would receive anointing, for the peoples who have believed in Christ are the stones that are anointed, just as John says of them: “From these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham.” For in Jacob’s prayer the calling of the nations was symbolized.
In a dream Jacob saw a ladder, and on this ladder he saw angels ascending and descending; and he anointed the stone that he had placed at his head. You have heard that the Messiah is the Christ; you have heard that the Christ is the Anointed. For he did not place the anointed stone so that he might come and adore it; otherwise it would be idolatry and not a representation of Christ. Therefore a representation was made, so far as a representation needed to be made, and Christ was represented. The stone was anointed. Why a stone? “Behold, I lay in Zion a chosen stone, precious; and he who believes in it shall not be confounded.” Why anointed? Because [the name] “Christ” [is derived] from [the word] chrisma. .
The stone under Jacob’s head is the Lord, upon whom we ought to support ourselves with all our concentration, the more so insofar as it is surely clear to us that without him we can do nothing. Jacob anointed the stone and set it up as a mark, because a true Israelite understands that our Redeemer was anointed by the Father with the oil of gladness above his fellows. From this ointment (that is, chrism) Christ received his name, and the mystery of his incarnation is the mark of our redemption. It is good that when the stone was anointed on the earth and raised up as a mark, the Lord was revealed in heaven, for undoubtedly he appeared in time as a man among men while he remained eternal with God the Father. When death was overcome “he ascended over the heaven of heavens to the east,” remaining with us as a mark of our salvation “for all days, up to the consummation of the world.” He who transferred the body he had assumed from earth to heaven was the One who filled earth, and heaven as ...
In order that what we have mentioned above may adhere more firmly to your pious hearts, we will briefly repeat what was said. Blessed Isaac, as we said, sending his son away was a type of God the Father; Jacob who was sent signified Christ our Lord. The stone that he had at his head and anointed with oil also represented the Lord our Savior. The ladder touching heaven prefigured the cross; the Lord leaning on the ladder is shown to be Christ fastened to the cross. The angels ascending and descending on it are understood to be the apostles, apostolic men and all doctors of the church. They ascend by preaching perfect truths to the just; they descend by telling the young and ignorant what they can understand. For our part, brothers, we who see fulfilled in the New Testament all the truths which were prefigured in the Old should thank God as well as we can because he has deigned to give us such great gifts without any preceding merits on our part. With his help let us labor with all our s...
On the other hand the stone also had been erected and honored as a symbol of Christ and had been sprinkled with oil. The Immanuel was anointed by God the Father “with the oil of gladness above his fellows.” Then he was raised from the dead, even though he had descended to death voluntarily. And that is, I believe, the meaning of erecting the stone. ,
As for the oil that Jacob poured upon the pillar, he either had it with him or he had brought it out of the village. In the oil that he poured upon the stone, he was depicting the mystery of Christ who was hidden inside it.
A title. That is, a pillar or monument. (Challoner)
Or an altar, consecrated by that rite to the service of the true God. This he did without any superstition; as the Catholic Church still pours oil or chrism upon her altars, in imitation of Jacob. (Rabanus, Instit. i. 45.) If pagans did the like, this is no reason why we should condemn the practice. They were blamable for designing thus to worship false gods. (St. Clement of Alexandria, strom. vii; Apuleius, Florid. i;) If Protestants pull down altars, under the plea of their being superstitious, we cannot but pity their ignorance or malice. (Worthington)
Since he had been granted wonderful favors by way of the vision, [Jacob] wished to make the place memorable by a name and to keep the memory fresh for future ages. He set up the stone as a monument, poured oil on it (this, after all, was probably all he had with him, traveling as he was like this), and to the loving God he offered a prayer characterized by complete good sense.