When the Bible was first translated from Hebrew from Koine Greek around 3rd–1st centuries BCE, the Hebrew word re’em was translated into monokeros = one-horned (sometimes spelt monoceros). Later, when the Bible was translated into Latin, the Greek word monokeros was translated into unicornis (one-horned).
In old English, the unicorn was known as ‘anhorn’ which is quite close to the Swedish ‘enhörning’ – both meaning one-horned. I’m only mentioning the Swedish because that’s where I’m from… but I digress.
So was this Biblical re’em/monokeros/unicornis an actual unicorn as we think of unicorns today or does it all boil down to mistranslation? In our modern day and age, the KJV (King James Version) is the only translation which has kept the word ‘unicorn.’ Sadly, other translations have opted for ‘wild ox’ (NKJV) or even ‘buffalo.’
I say ‘sadly’ because I like the idea of Biblical unicorns. Some modern theologians scoff and say of course they couldn’t have meant unicorns – they are mythological creatures… As if the Bible isn’t filled with myth and fiction even without the unicorns… and what is wrong with that?!
I’m with John Lennon on this:
I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind.
Besides, can you prove that God exists anywhere other than in your mind?
Let’s look at the passages in the King James Version which mention unicorns. I cannot comment as a theologian would but I will add a lighthearted note or two about how these passages make me feel. Because really, isn’t that what matters more than some kind of objective truth where none can be had?
King James Bible Passages that mention unicorns
Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”
Wow, unicorns are that strong! I’ll keep calling on them for help, for sure! 💪 🦄 👊
Numbers 24:8 “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.”
It looks like unicorns can be quite nasty to bullies! 🦄 😬 🔥
Job 39:9 “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?”
Yes, please come and hang out at my crib! OK, so I get that they mean crib as in ‘manger’ here… but still… 🦄 🤪 😍
Job 39:10 “Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”
Probably not. I reckon’ they are untamable. 🤣 🦄 😎
Psalms 29:6 “He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.”
Yes, here we go… Frolic like a unicorn! 🦄 🌈 💃🏻
Psalms 92:10 “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
Which essential oil does your unicorn guide prefer? 🌼 🦄 💖
Deuteronomy 33:17 “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.”
OK, so that verse didn’t even make sense. I mean I get that God has horns that look like unicorn horns (wait, isn’t the devil supposed to be the one with the horns?!) but pushing people together ‘to the ends of the earth’ sounds like both gathering and scattering at the same time. I suppose that is possible if you are God. 😕 🦄 🤔
Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
Messenger unicorns. They are literally the greatest. I use them all the time – way more reliable than the postal service and you have coverage literally everywhere, in every dimension. I’m down with David on this one, for sure! 💌 🦄 ⚡
Isaiah 34:7 “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.”
Meh. Blood… Yuck… ‘dust made fat with fatness’ – Pretty sure the unicorns will have none of that. Sounds like the wishful thinking of a deranged mind. 🤮
Of course, the fact that the unicorns were so frequently mentioned in the Bible is what gave birth to the medieval unicorn myths and legends where Christ himself was likened to a unicorn.
Unicorn Blissings ✨🦄✨