28:16–17 Surely the Lord is in this place (v. 16). Jacob’s affirmation of the Lord’s presence indicates that he considers God to be resident in this location. Consequently, he describes it as the house of God (v. 17). The associated phrase gate of heaven (v. 17) possibly implies that this is the entrance to the divine city. Since Jacob names the location “Bethel” (v. 19), which means “house of God,” the idea of God’s being present on earth is clearly dominant in his thinking. (The idea of a gate into heaven is a common one in ancient Near Eastern literature. For example, one of the titles given to a high priest of Thebes in Egypt was “The Opener of the Gates of Heaven.”)
ESV Study Bible
28:17 the house of God The Hebrew phrase used here, beth elohim, is typically used of a temple. Temples were both divine abodes and places where divine activity, as it pertained to humanity, could be witnessed or experienced.
the gate of heaven The stairway led to God’s abode, the heavens, where divine administration of the affairs of heaven and earth were conducted.
Faithlife Study Bible
28:17 he was afraid. Worshipful fear in God’s presence is appropriate (Ex. 3:6; 19:16; Ps. 2:11).
Reformation Study Bible