Are Unicorns mentioned in the Bible?

Bible Questions

“Are unicorns mentioned in the Bible?”

Yes. If you read the King James Bible (translated in 1611), you can read about unicorns and dragons.

The King James Bible was translated over 400 years ago and includes some wonderful creatures we don’t recognize today. For example we can read about dragons (Jeremiah 9:11 and 34 other places), Sirens (Isaiah 13:22), Satyrs (Isaiah 13:21; 34:14) and unicorns (Psalm 92:10 and eleven other places). The Douay-Rheims Bible (1582, 1609, 1610 — the English translation of the Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible used by many Catholics) even includes griffons (legendary creatures with the body, tail and hind legs of a lion with the head and wings of an eagle, Leviticus 11:13) and lamias (a horrible, mythical creature that ate children, Isaiah 34:14).

Though these mythical beasts occur in our old English Bibles, that doesn’t mean they actually appear in the Bible. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. What the presence of mythical beasts in the Bible means is that the Bible translators four hundred years ago didn’t know the meanings of the Hebrew words. When the old English translators of King James’ day encountered Hebrew words they didn’t have meanings for, they guessed! In the days of Shakespeare, people believed in all kinds of mythical creatures from unicorns to dragons so it didn’t seem strange that these creatures should appear in the Bible.

However, 400 years have passed and we have learned a great deal about the true meanings of these ancient words. As archaeologists and linguists continue to discover ancient manuscripts and inscriptions, previously unknown words are deciphered and defined.

So, for example, the Hebrew word re’em, often translated in the KJV Bible as “unicorn,” actually refers to the wild ox (Bos promigenius or Aurochs – an extinct predecessor of our modern cattle). Likewise, the KJV translators were fond of the word “dragon” and used it to translate many unknown animals including jackals (than: Job 30:29; Isaiah 34:13; 35:7 and elsewhere), crocodiles (tannim: Psalm 73:13; Isaiah 51:9; Ezekiel 29:3) and hyenas (ciyyim: Psalm 73:14; Jeremiah 1:39).

That’s just another reason why it is important to choose a modern English Bible like the English Standard Version (ESV) or New International Version (NIV) for your personal Bible study. However, I want to reassure my grandkids, even though unicorns and dragons aren’t real – I still think they are cool.

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