WVW: Numbers 23:22- Unicorns Are Real
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
This isn’t the only mention of unicorns in the Bible. They’re actually mentioned EIGHT more times! For good measure, I decided to go ahead and include every unicorn mention below.
17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?
6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
And here’s my personal favorite
9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
Well will he??
Alright, so what’s the deal with all these unicorns? Is anybody else feeling particularly magical right now?
This problem involving the mention of unicorns in the Bible is a simple one. It’s a problem of uncritical thinking that creeps in when the Bible is read at surface level and not researched. The idea for this post, as well as many other Weird Verse Wednesdays I do, came from an atheistic social forum making fun of Christianity and the Bible. I’ve also overheard the argument at church where someone was arguing for the existence of unicorns like the ones we see in kids books.
The explanation is actually pretty simple.
Unicorns = not unicorns.
Nuff said. At least it doesn’t mean unicorn how you or I define them. The King James Version is actually the only version of the Bible to use the term unicorn. Here are some of those verses in other translations
God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
Can you hold the wild ox to a furrow by its harness? Will it plow the valleys behind you?
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.
All of these translations use the term “wild ox”. The original Hebrew words in these verses is re’em. What this actually means is something like “one horned beast”. (that was my nickname in high school) There are a couple possible animals that these verses could be describing. One possibility is that the text could be describing a rhino. If you pull up the Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 online, you’ll find that it has an interesting definition for unicorn.
U'NICORN, noun [Latin unicornis; unus, one, and cornu, horn.]
1. an animal with one horn; the monoceros. this name is often applied to the rhinoceros.
If you consider this along with the fact that the King James Bible was written in the 1600’s you can conclude that the translators were trying to say “rhinoceros” but wrote “unicorn”, and the definition has changed since then to mean the rainbowey horsey guy.
In fact the Latin Vulgate that predates the King James extensively, uses the term unicornis and interchanges it in these verses with Rinocerotis, Rinocerota, and Unicornium. That means that the Latin translators supposed that it may have been a rhino as well.
Another possibility that I find particularly interesting is that these verses may be referring to an auroch. An auroch is an animal that went extinct in the 1600’s. It was basically a giant ox that stood over six feet tall and would pimp slap a fool if it wanted to. (humanity ended up pimp slapping it back, though) The reason why it could possibly be an auroch is because Numbers 23:22 actually uses horns in the plural form. The horns on an auroch’s head protrude out of both sides, but also sit on top of the head and appears as one horn.
This also intrigues me because we see the glorification of these animals throughout history. Baal, Moloch, and Apis are all ancient gods that resembled a giant ox. Also, we know that our friends created an idol in the image of a calf at the bottom of Mt Sinai.
Basically, we know that the unicorn being referred to in these texts is actually a powerful animal that existed or currently exists. It was likely either a rhinoceros or an auroch, not the majestic white unicorn that you see gliding over rainbows.
This is the part where I get to tie in the gospel.
Unicorns are real and so is Jesus.
Ding on Dingers