Photo by Alinari/Seat/Art Resource, N.Y.

ON THE COVER: Fleeing from his brother Esau, Jacob stops at Beth-El, rests his head on a rock and dreams of angels going up and down a ladder to heaven. Depicted here by the Italian Renaissance artist Francesco Brizio, God, in golden light at the top of the ladder, appears to Jacob and promises him the land on which he lies (Genesis 28:12–14). When Jacob awoke, he took his stone pillow, set it up as a pillar, or matzevah, and consecrated it with oil (Genesis 28:18). Four times in his life Jacob set up matzevot (standing stones) that serve as markers of events in an extended drama. In “Jacob’s Terrible Burden,” Gordon Tucker takes us step by step to these sites, exploring how Jacob learned that his unwitting oath would doom his beloved Rachel—and perhaps Rachel’s children Joseph and Benjamin as well.