The writer, C. Houtman, tries to show that in Genesis 28:12, another rendition of the Hebrew word sull%u0101m that is generally interpreted as a ladder that reached heaven from the location where Jacob was sleeping, is preferred. The writer’s opinion is that sull%u0101m is the ascent, or even the incline of the mountain of Bethel, which is the later high-place. In Jacob’s dream, it was brought out to him that the locality where he was sleeping, which was the sull%u0101m, was indeed a holy place, or “the gate of heaven“/”the house of God” (v.17), which happened to be the place that heaven and earth melded into one, and also where the heavenly world contacted the earth.
The writer uses several main sources as well as evidences with the aim to support his argument. One piece of evidence, as well as a source, that C. Houtman, presents for his argument is a photo of a mountain, called Jebel et-Tawil, which is located east of el-Bireh, or Bethel. According to Mr. Houtman, the settlement of Pesagot had been established at the top of the mountain after the photo was taken (Houtman 1977). The other sources are taken from the scripture itself. For instance, the word sull%u0101m has two meanings, and Mr. Houtman uses the second meaning, a “ladder”. Another source of evidence is that the story emphasized the place’s significance, like when Jacob referred to the place as “…the house of God…the gate of heaven”, further saying “The Lord is in this place” (vv 16-17).
I find the writer’s argument compelling and interesting as he brings to light a different perspective on the scripture, making us think beyond the surface.