David A. Loggie/Lands of the Bible Archaeology Foundation

The Ladders-to-Heaven Seal. The story of gods ascending a ladder to build a temple tower, depicted on this impression from the stone cylinder seal, exemplifies Elie Borowski’s purpose for amassing his extraordinary collection. In Borowski’s view, the Bible includes, synthesizes, and transmutes many of the world views that were current before the time of Abraham. To call attention to these pre-Biblical themes, and thus to enrich our understanding of the Bible, is the underlying objective of the Lands of the Bible Collection.

The images on this 1.5-inch-high stone Mesopotamian seal, c. 2254–2154 B.C., suggest to Borowski two Biblical events: Jacob’s dream in which angels ascend and descend a ladder reaching from heaven to earth (Genesis 28:10, 12) and the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4). On the right and left sides of the seal impression, a god carrying mortar on his head mounts a ladder to the top of the tower; two other gods perched on top of the tower add bricks to the structure. In the center, still other gods are waging war. Note that the tall standing gods, as well as the one on the ladder, wear horned headdresses (see photograph of headdress). It is possible that the seal depicts the Near Eastern epic of creation in which the gods construct a temple for Marduk, in thanks for his defeat of the powers of chaos.

To Borowski, the ladder symbolizes communication between the human and the Divine—communication consisting of the legends and myths, the rituals and moral codes that constituted religion over thousands of years in the ancient Near East.