Saturday, February 8, 2014

Animals in the Bible - the Unicorn

Chapter 6 - the Unicorn

Unicorns are mentioned 9 times in the Bible, at least in the King James Version. Now before you use this information to claim that the Bible is a book of myths and legends let’s look at the original word. In the Hebrew the word is re’em which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as unicorn, with a note that it is probably the great auroch or wild bull which is now extinct. It further states that the exact meaning is not known. Interestingly enough the first Webster’s dictionary of 1828, which you can access online, says this
U'NICORN, n. [L. unicornis; unus, one, and cornu, horn.]
1. an animal with one horn; the monoceros. this name is often applied to the rhinoceros.
So if the unicorn refers to a rhinoceros it would stand to reason that the 1828 definition of that animal would be parallel.
And it is:
RHINOC'EROS, n. [L. rhinoceros; Gr. nose-horn.]
A genus of quadrupeds of two species, one of which, the unicorn, as a single horn growing almost erect from the nose. This animal when full grown, is said to be 12 feet in length. There is another species with two horns, the bicornis. They are natives of Asia and Africa.

As I said, the King James Version uses unicorn and I’m sure that at that time it was understood to mean rhinoceros and not some rainbow romping horned horse. Most Bibles now use “wild ox” or even “buffalo” to translate the original Hebrew re’em.