What about unicorns?

I have received a question about unicorns before. This
question is not very specific, so I will simply copy my answer of a
previous question.

John Oakes

In the Bible, what do the Unicorns symbolize and where in the Bible are
they talked about?

That is a pretty easy question. Unicorns do not appear anywhere
in the Bible and therefore they do not symbolize anything in the Bible.
There is no word in either the Hebrew Old Testament of the Greek New
Testament which scholars would translate using the word unicorn. Probably
you got the idea that unicorns are in the Bible because of the fact that
unicorns appear in the King James Version. In fact, the word unicorn
appears in Numbers 23:33, 24:8, Job 39:9,10 and Psalms 29:6 and 92:10.
You should bear in mind that although the King James Version was the best
available in its time, it is very deficient compared to such modern, more
accurate translation such as the Revised Standard Version, the New
International Version, The New American Standard Version or even the New
King James Version. This is true for several reasons, among which is the
fact that there were only a very few good Greek and Hebrew manuscripts
available at the time the King James translation was made. Besides, in
the past almost four hundred years since the King James translation was
made, huge leaps in the scholarship of Hebrew words have been made. For
example in Job 39:9,10 where the KJV has “unicorn,” the NKJV has “wild
ox.” It is highly unlikely that the Jews even had a word for the mythical
unicorn at the time that Job was written, making the KJV’s use of unicorn
quite a stretch. By the way, the NKJV uses “wild ox” in the Numbers and
Psalms verses mentioned above as well. If you have any questions about
why the modern translations do not use unicorn and about the Hebrew word
which is translated as “wild ox” in modern translations, I suggest you do
a little research on your own. You could look up an English/Hebrew
interlinear, find the Hebrew word, and look up that Hebrew word in a
Hebrew/English dictionary. Sound like a fun project?

John Oakes, PhD

Unicorns, Dragons, and other creatures we normally associate with fantasy
are mentioned in the Bible. Did they really exist?

You claim that unicorns and dragons are found in the Bible. I
fail to find these creatures in the Bible, and am not sure what scriptures
you refer to. The word unicorn, or the Hebrew or Greek equivalent is not
found in the Bible, nor is a creature which resembles a unicorn found in
the Bible. As far as dragons, Satan is referred to figuratively as a
serpent, but this is clearly not intended to be taken literally. What you
might have in mind are some poetical passages such as in Job which refer
to a creature called “leviathan” (Job 41:1f) or to “behemoth” (Job
40:15f). The powerful creatures in Job 41 could be described as a
“mythical creature” except that this passage is not a myth. It is a
poetical description of the absolute power of God to create or destroy
whatever he will. It would be a mistake to try to prove the literal
existence of behemoth or leviathan based on clearly poetical passages such
as Job.

John Oakes, PhD

Comments are closed.