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Author Topic: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?  (Read 2486 times)

Erik Diamond

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What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« on: April 29, 2003, 11:26:38 PM »
Hello people,

I have to admit that I have always dismissed 'unicorn' as one of mankind's fantasy animal that I have heard about in book, tv, or movies.  ::)

Until I came to this verse after my friend, Dan brought to my attention when I was reading one of his studies:

Num 23:22  God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Then I research further into the bible and found few more verses about unicorn:

Job 39:9  Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

Psa 29:6  He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

I was pretty surprised that bible have mentioned about the unicorn. Was there a horse with horn between its eyes really existed, that they are no where to be found on this planet?  

And what does unicorn in the scripture often signifies? And why did God use unicorn in his Word?  ???

Thanks,
Erik Diamond
 


 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

judykanova

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2003, 08:03:24 AM »
Erik,

I believe the Bible makes reference to creatures now extinct.  The book of Job in particular makes mention of such creatures, including the unicorn.  There may be many reasons why God mentioned them in  His Word, but I think one reason is to demonstrate the diversity, complexity and awesome glory of His creative power.

judy
'For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.'   Ps 119:89

mkrsiean

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2003, 01:31:58 AM »
Hey Judy....yes, I was reading in Job the other night and it sure seemed like He was talking about a dragon that He had created....in Chapter 41.  Yikes!

brandplucked

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2003, 06:55:03 AM »
UNICORNS

Is the word “unicorn” an erroneous translation in the King James Bible? The English word unicorn occurs nine times in the KJB, and is found in Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Deut. 33:17; Job 39:9,10; Psalms 22:21; 29:6; 92:10; and Isaiah 34:7. It is translated from the Hebrew word reem, which comes from a verb used only once, and found in Zechariah 14:10 “Jerusalem, and ‘it shall be lifted up’ and inhabited in her place.” This animal is characterized by something lifted up or high and in a prominent position. It is very strong - “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.” Num. 23:22. It is also used in a symbolic way in our Lord’s prophetic prayer as recorded in Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” There was no literal lion present when Christ died, but Satan, as a roaring lion, was present, for it was his hour and the power of darkness. There were no literal unicorns present either, but they symbolically or spiritually were present and assisted our Lord Jesus in His greatest hour of need.

This animal was untamable, as can be seen in Job 39:9 - 12, where God asks Job “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?” This passage shows that the unicorn, whatever it was, could not be tamed at all and used in farming. This, as well as other verses soon to be discussed, shows that many modern versions, like the nkjv, niv and nasb, are incorrect in their rendering of this word as “wild ox”. The wild ox is nothing more than a “wild guess” and pure speculation on the part of the modern bible editors. A wild ox is like a wild horse. It can be tamed, by castration or placing a yoke on its neck, and bind him with his band in the furrow to bring home thy seed. God’s question to Job is intended to produce a definite NO, not a ‘Yeah, I can do that.’

Those who criticize the KJB’s unicorns try to muster a group of “scholars” who give their opinion as to what this animal was. But listen carfully to their words. Henry Morris - “The Hebrew word translated unicorn is believed by most Hebrew scholars to refer to the huge and fierce aurochs, or wild ox now extinct.” W. L. Alexander (Pulpit Commentary) “the reem is supposed to be the aurochs, an animal of the bovine species, allied to the buffalo, now extinct.” Charles Spurgeon wrote “The unicorn may have been some gigantic ox or buffalo now unknown and perhaps extinct.” William Houghon “we think that there can be no doubt (how is that for certainty !) that some species of wild ox is intended.” Eastons’ Bible dictionary says: “The exact reference of the word is doubtful. Some have supposed it to be the buffalo, others the white antelope called by the Arabs rim. Most probably, however, the word denotes Bos Primigenius, which is now extinct.” All of this is pure speculation. The fact is the modern bible editors do not know what this animal was, and they say it is now extinct. Wild oxen still exist, until they are tamed or domesticated. In fact some bibles like Darby and the Spanish of 1960 translate this word as “buffalo”, while the Douay Rheims sometimes has “rhinoceros” and other times “unicorns”.

Unicorn means literally, “one - horned”, and it was a one horned animal. Daniel Webster’s first Dictionary of 1828 defined unicorn as “an animal with one horn; the monoceros. This name is often applied to the rhinoceros.” There have been fossils found, and are now in museums, of a giant one horned beast or dinosaur. There are also the unicorn bird, the unicorn fish, the unicorn moth, the unicorn shell, plant, root and the unicorn constellation. So several things, both plants and animals have the word unicorn attached to them to describe some physical characteristic.

There are even historical accounts of the unicorn. In 416 BC, the Greek physician Ctesias set out to attend to the Persian King Darius II, where he spent 18 years. He later wrote a book called Indica, in which he said: “There are in India certain wild asses which are a large as horses, and larger. They have a horn on the forehead which is about eighteen inches in length.” Pliny the Elder, in the first century AD, describes “an exceedingly wild beast called the Monoceros (one - horned)...It makes a deep lowing noise, and one black horn two cubits long projects from the middle of its forehead. This animal, they say, cannot be taken alive.” Aristotle frequently mentioned the unicorn. He said in one passage: “I have found that wild asses as large as horses are to be found in India. It has a horn on the brow, about one cubit and a half in length..” Julius Caesar said they could be found in the Hercynian Forest, and Alexander the Great is said to have seen one before attempting to invade a certain territory, and took it as a sign not to attack, because the land was protected. Are these reports true? I do not know, but I mention them only to show that there are many conflicting views as to what this animal was and in what form it existed.

The King James Bible is not at all alone in translating the Hebrew word as unicorn. In fact the word unicorn is found in Wycliffs translation, Tyndale (he translated part of the Old Testament before he was killed), Coverdale’s Bible, Taverner’s Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Geneva Bible and the Italian Diodati as well as the Spanish of 1602, all of which preceeded the King James Bible. Today, other more modern versions that contain the word unicorn are the Spanish Reina Valera of 1901, the Catholic Douay version of 1950, Darby’s translation, the 21st Century KJB, the Third Millenium Bible, Daniel Webster’s translation of the Bible, published in 1833, Lamsa’s Bible translation of 1933, and in the 1936 edition of the Massoretic Scriptures put out by the Hebrew Publishing Company of New York.

One other verse that puts the lie to the modern versions use of “wild ox”, besides the reference in Job, is Psalms 92:10. ‘But my HORN shalt thou exalt like the HORN of AN UNICORN.” The nasb, niv and nkjv read: “You have exalted my HORN like THAT OF A WILD OX.” Now, I ask you a simple question. How many horns does a wild ox have? Not one, but two.

Some would criticize the KJB in Deut. 33:17 where Moses is blessing Israel. He says: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his HORNS are like the HORNS OF UNICORNS: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth.” The Oxford and Cambridge KJB editions say in the marginal note: Hebrew - unicorn. This is a masculine singular absolute noun. Yet it is rendered as a plural “unicorns” not only by the KJB but also by Websters Bible, the Third Millenium Bible and the 21st Century KJB. Those who criticze the KJB for rendering a singular noun as a plural are really being hypocritical and showing their ignorance of the Hebrew language.

All Bible translations very frequently translate a singular masculine absolute noun as a plural. In this same book of Deuteronomy, in just the first 10 chapters, the nkjv, niv and nas do this very thing. Deut. 8:15 “nachash” & “aqrab” (singular nouns) are translated by all as “serpents & scorpions”, in Dt. 1:19, 20 “har” is mountains in the nkjv, Dt 1:1, 2:37 “bahar” and “har” as hills or mountains in nkjv, KJB, and niv. Dt. 1:23, 35 and in many many other places “ish” as “men”; Dt. 3:3 “sarid” as survivors in niv, nkjv; Dt. 5:15 “ebed” slaves in niv, Dt. 7:9 “dowr” generations in niv & nkjv; Dt. 8:8 “rimmown” as pomegranates in nasb, niv and nkjv; Dt. 9:ll, 18, 25 “layil” as “nights” in nasb, niv and nkjv; and Dt. 10:19 “gare” as strangers or aliens in niv, nkjv, and nasb. So the person who tries to attack the KJB for rendering a singular noun as a plural, just doesn’t know what he is talking about. Because of the “horns” plural, the KJB has made the singular nown as plural in the context. There are many words like this in English which can be either singular or plural like: deer, sheep, moose, elk, fish and trout etc.

The Unicorn was a one horned animal of some kind. I don’t think we know for sure what it was, but it was not a wild ox as the nkjv, nas and niv have it. It could not be tamed (Job 39: 9, 10) and Psalm 92:10 is speaking of a one horned animal, and the wild ox has two horns, not just one. One definite possibility is the Indian rhinoceros, of which there are still about 2000 alive today. They used to cover large areas, but are now limited to India and Nepal. They weigh about 4,500 pounds, can run at over 20 miles an hour; they have one large horn on the snout and their scientific name is Rhinoceros UNICORNIS. In the original 16ll edition of the KJB, the editors placed “or Rhinoceros” in the margin of Isaiah 34:7 where it reads: “And the unicorns shall come down with them.” It is still in the modern editions of the KJB. So the KJB editors were not ignorant of the possibility of the unicorn being a rhinoceros. I do not know, nor does any one else, but God, what the unicorn was or is. It was a one horned animal of great strength, and it could not be tamed, and it is always used in a good and positive sense in Scripture. The KJB is not in error by translating this word as unicorn, but the modern versions are just taking a wild guess with their “wild oxen” and the other scriptures show their wild guess to be wrong.

Will Kinney

judykanova

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2003, 05:50:13 PM »
Will,

This is a very interesting summary on biblical and historical data regarding the unicorn.  Thanks for putting it together.  As noted, the KJV remains the most consistently accurate translation we have, even in this respect.

judy
'For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.'   Ps 119:89

Reformer

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2003, 11:52:44 PM »
Hey Judy....yes, I was reading in Job the other night and it sure seemed like He was talking about a dragon that He had created....in Chapter 41.  Yikes!

Hey mkrsiean, welcome back. Where ya Been?

judykanova

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2003, 05:43:27 AM »
Quote
Hey Judy....yes, I was reading in Job the other night and it sure seemed like He was talking about a dragon that He had created....in Chapter 41.  Yikes!


Hey mkrsiean, sorry I didn't even see your post till now.  Yes aren't  those passages in Job, Chapter 41 about this dragon-like creature facinating?  As a matter of fact, I find the whole book of Job facinating.  Besides, the 'unicorn', this dragon-like creature called 'leviathan', there is also a creature called 'behemoth' Job 40:6

But the most facinating of all the creatures mentioned is this 'dragon'.  Portions of the description seems to symbolically be a picture of  Satan.  Check out the highlighted verses:

Job 41
1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? ...
2 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
4 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? ...
8 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
9 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
10 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
11 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine....
15 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal....
18 By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning....
20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth....
24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
26 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon....
30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment....
33 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.


You've gotten me looking elsewhere in Scripture; there are many references to 'dragon' and a few more references to 'leviathan' whose decriptions further suggest that this creature represents Satan.  Here are a few:

Ps 74:12-14
12 For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.  
14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

Ps 104:24-26
24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

Isa 27:1
In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.


Of course, we know that the 'serpent' deceived Adam & Even in the Garden of Eden.

I want to also include this passage about the dragon because it echoes portions of Job 41:

Ezek 29:3-8
3 Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
4 But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.

(Note: Echoes Job 41:2, 15-17)
5 And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven. ...
7 When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.

(Note: Echoes Job 41:8, 25)
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.

The whole Bible is facinating!

judy
'For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.'   Ps 119:89

brandplucked

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2003, 03:06:00 PM »
This is a very interesting summary on biblical and historical data regarding the unicorn.  Thanks for putting it together.  As noted, the KJV remains the most consistently accurate translation we have, even in this respect.
judy


You are very welcome, Judy.  There are no provealble errors in the Authorized King James Holy Bible.




matt205

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2017, 02:44:19 PM »
I googled Dowr Unicorn in the Bible and one of the pages that came up was this old thread. Personally, I believe that the unicorns were Ox that became extinct. Mainly because that is what the majority of Hebrew scholars and all the Jewish experts in the Old Testament say. I don't know why there are some who are resistant to this, since the scholars and experts should know best. There are no such things as unicorns.

Tony Warren

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Re: What Are the Unicorn in the Bible?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2017, 09:43:18 AM »
>>>
Personally, I believe that the unicorns were Ox that became extinct. Mainly because that is what the majority of Hebrew scholars and all the Jewish experts in the Old Testament say.
<<<

I tend to agree with much of what brandplucked posted. The King James version of the Bible translates the Hebrew word [re'em] as Unicorn because a Unicorn is a mythical one horned beast, and that is what is described in the Bible. Nothing more complicated than that. actually, the word [re'em] simply means lifted up and by extension exalted. From the descriptions of the animal in Scripture this is no doubt because of its fierce and conspicuous nature. One thing we know from Scripture is that it was not the great aurochs, wild bull or wild Ox as has been widely speculated by Hebrew scholars. We know that it was a fierce creature of great strength, one horn and that it would not be domesticated. The Biblical descriptions fit perfectly the wild Rhinoceros, and would also fit God using this image to illustrated being exalted.

Psalm 92:10
  • "But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil."

The horn is symbolic of power or strength, and again this fits perfectly. This animal is  mentioned in scripture nine times (Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Job 39:9; 39:10; Deuteronomy 33:17, Psalms 22:21 29:6; 92:10, Isaiah 34:7).

The Rhinoceros is also the only such creature living today with one horn and perfectly matches the one horned animal of great strength and fierceness we read of in Scripture. The emphasis is on its great strength, and of course the Rhinoceros has been known to overturn cars and lift up heavy trucks off the ground, and also with great power to push and destroy.

Numbers 23:22
  • "God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn."
Deuteronomy 33:17
  • "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh."

This is obviously a glorious creature, praise worthy, a creature of renown. It is a creature of great strength and magnificent imagery. And likewise in Job, it is illustrated as an independent creature which is almost impossible to tame.

Job 39:9-12
  • "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
  • Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

This is clearly not the definition of a wild Ox. The [re'em] is hardly a creature to be tamed and used for labor. The unicorn is unwilling to serve, which is why you will not see a Rhino hitched to a cart or tied to a plough with cords, which is what that last passages illustrate. He won't be harrowing (turning up the valleys with plough) after you. This is not an Ox. The translation of this animal as a Ox I believe are poor translations. Unicorn is certainly not the perfect translation, considering what we understand as a Unicorn today, but it is only becauise of the times and its one horn that it was rendered that way.


Quote
>>>
 I don't know why there are some who are resistant to this, since the scholars and experts should know best.
<<<

I disagree, since they've demonstrated time and time again the fallocy of that type thinking. Too much comparing secular examples, extrabiblical history and oral traditions, and not enough Biblical exegesis of the text. I'm no expert, but I think it should be self-evident that the animal described in those scriptures is not an Ox nor a Bull.

Job 39:9-10
  • "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
  • Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?"

The implication is, no.


Quote
>>>
 There are no such things as unicorns.
<<<

Well, except in Grimm's fairy tales. There is no such thing as the mythical, fanciful, Unicorn, but there is such thing as the one horned [r&eacute;'em] in Scripture that is translated Unicorn. An fiercesome animal that perfectly describes the Indian Rhinoceros that lived in those days.

Numbers 24:7-8
  • "He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
  • God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows."

Again, exalted with the strength of the fiercesome unicorn, which I believe is simply what we call today, the Rhino.

"nosce te ipsum"
 
Peace,
Tony Warren
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