Jacobs ladder and the stone pillow
There is a definite contrast between the altars of idolaters and the altar of the lord. Not only were the stones of the altar to be 'unhewn' but there were to be no steps up to the altar as we read in Exodus 20:26
26‘And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.’
Many of the temples that have survived the ravages of history are seen to have as their main theme 'many steps' all leading up to the sacrificial point. Mesopotamian temples are particularly shown to emphasize steps in their sacrificial structures.(1)
It is possible that the Tower of babel in Genesis chapter 11 was of this type of construction, and the idea that the construction was such as led up to God, in the heavens, is quite obvious from the context of Genesis chapter 11.
4 "They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."(emphasis mine)
It was and is a false conception that man can reach to the heavens and to God by physical means or his own works. Ephesian 2:8 gives a clear statement of the nature of the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven. It is the work of The father in sacrificing His Only Begotten Son on the alter of love/mercy and the ministration of the Holy Spirit that brings the sons of Adam into the Kingdom of God. Jacobs ladder appears to represent Gods making of the entrance to Heaven.
Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 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. 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 “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (emphasis mine)
A far cry, are the steps to heaven, represented here in Jacobs dream, from the steps of the Ziggurats and the tower of Babel, that lead only into the natural heavens.
The sacrificial foreshadowings of the Old testament contrast dramatically with the means and methods man attempts, in his fallen state, to reach heaven.
The outcast and wanderer Jacob sees the gate of heaven while the men of Babel seek to establish a city and a tower and the glorification of their own name.
The architect and builder of the city that has foundations is God, and He is able to raise from these stones..Mathew 3:9
and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
The nakedness that would be exposed by building steps to the alter was the nakedness of association with the temples of false religion and idolatry and sacrifice outside of the ordinance of God as defined in the law. Adams nakedness (genesis 3) was exposed due to his disobedience and in like manner if the israelites disobeyed Gods instructions for the building of altars they would by such actions sin against God, exposing their nakedness.
Ziggurat: a multi-storied temple tower from ancient Mesopotamia.
Ancient Babylonia - The Ziggurats
Definition of ziggurat