Having Bible lessons centered on mythical creatures is always interesting because many Christians are unaware that some of their fondest imaginary figures are actually alluded to in the Bible. In my last class, we discussed unicorns. I knew it would be a thought-provoking discussion because unicorns are not easy to find in the Bible. As expected, none of my attendees knew where to start, so before I dove deep into the topic, I asked them a simple question to get their gears turning: how many times is unicorn mentioned in the Bible?
‘Unicorn’ is mentioned nine times in the King James Version of the Bible. For example, it features in Deuteronomy 33:17, Psalm 29:6, Job 39:9, and Job 39:10. In these passages, it is believed that ‘unicorn’ does not mean the supernatural animals we know today. Instead, the word alludes to a horned animal, symbolically representing power and strength.
In this article, I looked at the relationship between unicorns and the Bible in the literal sense and figuratively. Using Biblical Scripture and scholarly resources, I deeply examined the possible connotations behind the use of ‘unicorn’ in the Bible. This is a great read that you definitely do not want to miss.
Why Does the Bible Mention Unicorns?
The Bible mentions unicorns to show the infinite power and strength that God possess over all His creations, including human beings. This is expounded on in Job 38-41. For example, in Job 39:9-12, God reveals to Job the amazing animal He created to illustrate His power – the unicorn. These verses suggest that in the Old Testament, the unicorn was the ultimate symbol of strength.
Unicorns, as mentioned in the Holy Book, are not meant to infer the horned mythical creatures portrayed in folklore and entertainment since no scientific or archeological information can substantiate their existence. Instead, theologians view unicorns as described in the Bible – horned animals that were prevalent during the time. Further, that animal was symbolic. It figuratively represents great might and power.
Where Is Unicorn Mentioned in The Bible?
Unicorns are not mentioned in any version of the Bible except the King James Version, within which it features nine times. The word is in Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Isaiah 34:7, Psalm 22:21, Deuteronomy 33:17, Psalm 29:6, Job 39:9, Job 39:10, and Psalm 92:10. One theory about why the KJV Bible is the only one with mentions of unicorns is that it was due to mistranslation. It is thought that a mistranslation from the Greek Septuagint over 2,200 years ago happened when the KJV Bible was being written. Later versions of the Bible, like the NIV and NRSV, corrected this mistake which is why the word ‘unicorn’ is absent in them. According to the proponents of this theory, the word should have been ‘wild ox’ and not ‘unicorn.’
Bible Verses About Unicorns
- Numbers 23:22 – This is a pivotal verse that many believe to be a great illustration of the powerful nature of unicorns. In this scripture, God’s might that took His people out of Egypt is likened to a unicorn’s.
- Numbers 24:8 – In this Scripture, the Lord’s power is, again, related to that of a unicorn. It is described as being strong enough to eat up the adversaries of His people and break their bones.
- Isaiah 34:7 – Here, it is said that despite the powerful nature of a unicorn, Isaiah killed one and sacrificed it to the Lord to quell the anger He intended to send to Edom.
- Psalm 22:21 – This verse explains David’s lamentations as he cries for help and deliverance from his enemies, who he calls “the horn of a unicorn.” By referring to them as this, he explains how overpowering they are.
- Deuteronomy 33:17 – The power of Joseph is described in this scripture. It states that it is like a bullock with the horns of a unicorn to denote great strength and power.
- Psalm 29:6 – Here, it states that God’s command is mighty enough to shake the earth and make Lebanon act like a young unicorn.
- Psalm 92:10 – Unicorns are called great bullocks that are bleeding as they die.
- Job 39:9 – This verse refers to a unicorn as a wild ox and has rhetorical questions that God asked Job to help him catch a glimpse of God’s greatness.
- Job 39:10 – In this scripture, God asks Job more rhetorical questions to correlate His might symbolized in a unicorn.
How Do Unicorns Appear in The Bible?
Unicorns appear as strong and powerful horned animals in the Bible. They are illustrated in various animal forms. For example, Numbers 23:22 in original Hebrew refers to an animal known as tow’apaha, which was translated into “wild ox,” “beast with a horn,” or “rhinoceros.” Many theologians believe that this could have been a unicorn.
As well, earlier versions of the Bible in Scripture, such as Isaiah 34:7, used the Hebrew word re’em to describe unicorns. It means monokeros in Septuagint and unicornis in Latin. Re’em is thought to refer to large cows known as urus or aurochs, which were common in Ancient Europe and Asia. These cattle were big, wild, agile, and tall (up to seven feet tall). They are also believed to be the ancestors of modern-day cows. Other scholars assume re’em refers to antelope-like animals and even Triceratops. From the Biblical illustrations given about unicorns, be it rhinos or large cattle, there is a common feature. Strong, ferocious, and powerful animal descriptions are used to connotate unicorns. This is symbolic of the strength that unicorns are believed to possess.
What Do Biblical Unicorns Look Like?
According to Biblical Scripture, unicorns look like ordinary animals that are present today. Job 39:9-12, Deuteronomy 33:17, Psalm 29:6, and several other verses describe unicorns as horses, dogs, eagles, calves, peacocks, lambs, lions, goats, dogs, bullocks, and donkeys. Biblical interpreters believe that God used familiar animals to show unicorns to us because that was more effective than if he had used the form of a mythical creature. Imaginary figures would not have clearly brought out His message.
What Are the Strengths of a Unicorn According to The Bible?
According to Numbers 23:22, the strength of a unicorn is compared to God’s. In the Bible, unicorns are depicted as strong creatures that won wars and victoriously fought battles. Powerful animals like bullocks and wild ox are used to describe unicorns in the Bible, and this is due to their perceived great strength. Additionally, in Psalm 22:21, David refers to his strong enemies, such as Baal, Moloch, and Egyptian Apis, as wild oxen or unicorns. Lastly, Biblical scholars also consider a unicorn’s strong physical build one of its strengths. To illustrate, a unicorn’s powerful horns are thought to be an allusion to its strength.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.