Posted by: Rob Lester | July 21, 2010

Unicorns in the Bible

Yes, you read that correctly. The King James Version of the Bible mentions unicorns in nine places.  Atheists howl with laughter at this.  “What’s next,” they ask, “fairy princesses?”  The biblical unicorn bears no resemblance to the mystical white horse with a long, slender, spiraled horn.  Modern Bible translations (with access to better manuscripts) render the Hebrew word “re’em” as “wild ox.”  This is not a cover-up to avoid embarrassment, but merely a more accurate translation.  In context, the passages that mention unicorns describe this animal as a fierce, strong beast.  A young unicorn is called a calf (Ps. 29:6), indicating some sort of bovine creature.  It is mentioned in connection with plowing fields (Job 39:10).  They are mentioned alongside young bulls (Isa. 34:7).  The focus on the singular horn is not problematic.  Horns are the most dangerous part of any cattle and the “horn” (singular) is often used in the Bible as the focal point of strength.  Also, the Hebrew “re’em” is very similar to the Assyrian “rimu” which is a large type of extinct ox.  The horns are very symmetrical and often appear as one from a side view in drawings of them.  It seems this is a language/translation problem, though, not a visual one.  Even if this explanation fails, other viable ones can be made.  The black obelisk of Shalmaneser found in Nineveh (near Mosul, Iraq) shows a large, extinct rhinoceros among a group of two-horned cattle.  This may very well be the animal referred to in the scriptures.  The Bible student need not be intimidated or embarrassed by atheists’ criticisms. 

Mitchell, Dr. Elizabeth. “Unicorns in the Bible”  Answers in Genesis 6/25/08   

For further reading:

Wieland, Carl. “The Unicorn” and “Recreating the Extinct Aurochs” in “Creation” magazine 14(2):14-15, 25-28 (1992); addendum 2004

Naaktgeboren, C., Unicorn—fact or fantasy? World Magazine, pp. 70–76, September 1990.


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