Thank you so much for this question. I had no idea where the research would take me, but wow.
Answer: The Lord was no more "above Jacob, or "standing upon a Ladder" any more than Saul was over and standing on his spear, when he was killed, (in 2 Sam 1:6).
These same passages use the same word, mistranslated as "stand/lean"
There are two false premises that have to be addressed first:
- Ladder is not a proper translation.
- Stand is not a proper translation.
BDB Reference to נצב, a well-known lexicon/dictionary, and also recognizes the alternate connotation of נצב, to mean "well-settled, firmly against/upon / stationed," in lieu of the the "regular meaning of stand."
Revising and Improving these translations lead to a very different understanding of this passage.
- Specifically, in classical translation, the reader is left with the sense that "God is High and lifted up OVER this "Ladder."
However, with the revised translations of these two words, the reader is left with the sense of a personal encounter with God, similar to that of Moses speaking with God face to face, or Abraham at Mamre :
- The image that these words actually imply is that "God/Lord/etc" is upon, or reclining against, or settled upon, a "ramp", (certainly not a ladder as we know it), that was "ascended" to reach heaven, like ascending a mountain.
The Linguistic Basis for this Interpretation: ...
A Ramp, or Enbankment -- not a "Ladder"
In Hebrew Scripture, "סלם / Ladder" only occurs once, requiring analysis from the Septuagint, secular usages of this word, and Aramaic translations:
Gen. 28:12, NASB - He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Gen. 28:12, WLC - ויחלם והנה סלם מצב ארצה וראשו מגיע השמימה והנה מלאכי אלהים עלים וירדים בו׃
Gen. 28:12, LXX - καὶ ἐνυπνιάσθη καὶ ἰδοὺ κλίμαξ ἐστηριγμένη ἐν τῇ γῇ ἧς ἡ κεφαλὴ ἀφικνεῖτο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ ἀνέβαινον καὶ κατέβαινον ἐπ᾽ αὐτῆς
Histories, Plb. 1.22 - περιετίθετο δ᾽ αὐτῷ κλῖμαξ ἐπικαρσίαις σανίσι καθηλωμένη, πλάτος μὲν ποδῶν τεττάρων, τὸ δὲ μῆκος ἓξ ὀργυιῶν.  τὸ δὲ τρῆμα τοῦ σανιδώματος ἦν παράμηκες καὶ περιέβαινε περὶ τὸν στῦλον μετὰ τὰς πρώτας εὐθέως τῆς κλίμακος δύ᾽ ὀργυιάς.
Histories, Plb 1.22 - and a gangway made with cross planks nailed together, four feet wide and thirty-six feet long, was made to swing round it. Now the hole in the gangway was oval shaped, and went round the pole twelve feet from one end of the gangway, which had also a wooden railing running down
In Josephus, "κλίμακας" can connote a literal ladder, but it is most certainly used, as in the above references, to indicate a very massive geological "Ramp," (http://classic.net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Ladder%20Of%20Tyre).
Josephus, J. AJ 12.8.3 - And Judas came upon the city in the morning; and when he found that the enemy were making an assault upon the walls, and that some of them brought ladders
J. AJ 12.338 - ἤδη τοῖς τείχεσι προσβεβληκότας τοὺς πολεμίους καὶ τοὺς μὲν κλίμακας, ὥστε ἀναβαίνειν ἐπ᾽ αὐτά, τοὺς δὲ μηχανήματα προσφέροντας, κελεύσας
Josephus, J. AJ 13.5.4 - and appointed his brother Simon to be the general over the forces, from the Ladder of Tyre unto Egypt.
J. AJ 12.338 - τὸν ἀδελφὸν δ᾽ αὐτοῦ Σίμωνα στρατηγὸν τῆς στρατιᾶς ἀπὸ κλίμακος τῆς Τυρίων ἕως Αἰγύπτου καθίστησιν.
The "Regular" connotation of "Stand," does not apply--at all
Note: The sense of "Stand" within the meaning of "it was a standing pool of water," is appropriate--but certainly not as in: "a man standing".
In Hebrew, there is a specific word to imply "a man standing", (עמד)--but this word is not used in this context of Joseph's Dream.
Instead, a completely different verb choice is used--נצב:
First, this construction in Genesis is very similar to the one in Amos, and again the Septuagint/LXX chooses the same Greek word in Translation, (which does not mean "Stand"):
Amos 9:1, NASB - I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said,
Amos 9:1, WLC - ראיתי את־אדני נצב על־המזבח ויאמר הך הכפתור
Amos 9:1, LXX - εἶδον τὸν κύριον ἐφεστῶτα ἐπὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου
Lamentations using "נצב" to indicate, "Firmly Placed," (which is unfortunate, in this context).
Lam. 2:4, NASB - He has bent His bow like an enemy; He has set His right hand like an adversary ...
Lam. 2:4, WLC -דרך קשתו כאויב נצב ימינו כצר ויהרג כל מחמדי־עין באהל בת־ציון שפך כאש חמתו
Lam. 2:4, LXX - ἐνέτεινεν τόξον αὐτοῦ ὡς ἐχθρός ἐστερέωσεν δεξιὰν αὐτοῦ ὡς ὑπεναντίος
Genesis also uses נצב to indicate "Well-Settled, Heaped, Firmly Ground":
Gen. 33:20, NASB - Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
Gen. 33:20, WLC - ויצב־שם מזבח ויקרא־לו אל אלהי ישראל׃
Gen. 33:20 - καὶ ἔστησεν ἐκεῖ θυσιαστήριον καὶ ἐπεκαλέσατο τὸν θεὸν Ισραηλ
When Genesis wants to convey, "Stand," in the regular meaning, it does--unambiguously:
Gen. 24:31, NASB - And he said, “Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”
Gen. 24:31, WLC - ויאמר בוא ברוך יהוה למה תעמד בחוץ ואנכי פניתי הבית ומקום לגמלים׃
In Juxtaposition, Genesis intentionally uses "נצב" to imply something else:
Gen 28:13, NASB - And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.
Gen 28:13, WLC - והנה יהוה נצב עליו ויאמר אני יהוה אלהי אברהם אביך ואלהי יצחק הארץ אשר אתה שכב עליה לך אתננה ולזרעך׃
Important to note is the Greek verb doesn't come close to the regular understanding of "Stand."
Gen 28:13, LXX - ὁ δὲ κύριος ἐπεστήρικτο ἐπ᾽ αὐτῆς καὶ εἶπεν ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς Αβρααμ τοῦ πατρός σου καὶ ὁ θεὸς Ισαακ μὴ φοβοῦ ἡ γῆ ἐφ᾽ ? ἧς σὺ καθεύδεις ἐπ᾽ αὐτῆς σοὶ δώσω αὐτὴν καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου
Gen. 24:43, NASB - behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar”;
Gen. 24:43, WLC - הנה אנכי נצב על־עין המים והיה העלמה היצאת לשאב ואמרתי אליה השקיני־נא מעט־מים מכדך׃
Gen. 24:43, LXX - ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐφέστηκα ἐπὶ τῆς πηγῆς τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῆς πόλεως ἐξελεύσονται ὑδρεύσασθαι ὕδωρ καὶ ἔσται ἡ παρθένος ᾗ ἂν ἐγὼ εἴπω πότισόν με μικρὸν ὕδωρ ἐκ τῆς ὑδρίας σου
Saul was not "Standing," but rather "Collapsed, firmly against, or Supported Upon":
2 Sam 1:6, NASB - The young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely.
2 Sam 1:6, LXX - καὶ εἶπεν τὸ παιδάριον τὸ ἀπαγγέλλον αὐτῷ περιπτώματι περιέπεσον ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ Γελβουε καὶ ἰδοὺ Σαουλ ἐπεστήρικτο ἐπὶ τὸ δόρυ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἰδοὺ τὰ ἅρματα καὶ οἱ ἱππάρχαι συνῆψαν αὐτῷ
2 Sam 1:6, WLC - ויאמר הנער ׀ המגיד לו נקרא נקריתי בהר הגלבע והנה שאול נשען על־חניתו והנה הרכב ובעלי הפרשים הדבקהו׃
Comparative Literature affirms that the Greek word, "ἐπε στήρικτο" used instead of "נצב" certainly does not mean "stand" in the regular sense of the word:
These uses indicate confirm the sense of a very "Well-Settled" position, not moving, firm, (just as Saul was against his spear).
Hom. Il. 16.111 - but every way evil was heaped upon evil.
πάντῃ δὲ κακὸν κακῷ ἐστήρικτο.
Histories, Plb 1.26 - the apex of which was open, the base compact and strong;
τὸ δὲ πρὸς τῇ βάσει στερεόν, τὸ δὲ σύμπαν ἐνεργὸν καὶ πρακτικόν, ἅμα δὲ καὶ δυσδιάλυτον.
Histories, Plb 3.79 - But after a careful inquiry as to what part of the road was firm or boggy
Ἀννίβας δ᾽ ἐπιμελῶς ἐξητακὼς τεναγώδεις καὶ στερεοὺς ὑπάρχοντας
Histories, Plb. 6.23 - Some of the pila are thick, some fine. Of the thicker, some are round with the diameter of a palm's length, others are a palm square.
εἰσιν οἱ μὲν παχεῖς, οἱ δὲ λεπτοί. τῶν δὲ στερεωτέρων οἱ μὲν στρογγύλοι παλαιστιαίαν ἔχουσι τὴν διάμετρον, οἱ δὲ