When I was first was asked whether I believed unicorns were real or not, I literally laughed out loud. I was like absolutely not, there is no way. Then I was quite surprised to find out that they are mentioned in scripture. Now before you freak out on me and call me crazy, remember to always take anything anyone says and compare it to scripture.
Does the bible mention unicorns? There is a biblical reference to unicorns in the scripture found which is found in the KJV. However, there is much debate on whether it is an accurate translation of the original Hebrew of the verse. Many scholars of Hebrew, have sought out the truth behind this very controversial topic: Unicorns. They came to the conclusion that the word unicorn was either misinterpreted or incorrectly translated.
But before we dive into whether this is true or not, let’s look at where in the Bible the word unicorn is mentioned.
Where does the Bible mention Unicorns?
There are 9 only references within scripture that use the word unicorn. The word “unicorn” found in these verses is specifically found in the King James Version. I’ve compiled a list of these 9 verses for you to take a look at. Let’s examine what the King James version says about “unicorns” and then next, we’ll compare the exact same verses with other translations.
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.Isaiah 34:7 King James Version
Save me from the lion’s mouth: For thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.Psalm 22:21 King James Version
But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.Psalm 92:10 King James Version
God brought them out of Egypt; He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.Numbers 23:22 King James Version
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, Or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?Job 39:9-10 King James Version
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.Numbers 24:8 King James Version
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.Deuteronomy 33:17 King James Version
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.Psalm 29:6 King James Version
If we cross-examine our information and look at other translations of this verse, we find that perhaps it was incorrectly translated.
The reason unicorns are only mentioned in the King James Version is due to a roughly 2,200-year-old mistranslation from the Greek Septuagint. The term Septuagint refers to seventy-two translators.
Six from each tribe of Israel, involved in translating the Pentateuch from Hebrew to Greek. This mistranslation has been corrected in most modern translations of the Bible, including the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New International Version (NIV).
How do other Bible translations translate the word “Unicorn”?
In order to get the bigger picture, we need to evaluate all evidence before we can come to a conclusion. We need to cross-examine our sources as to whether or not the KJV translation of the word unicorn is accurate or not.
To do this, let’s take a look at what other translations have to say about the matter.
Wild oxen shall fall with them, and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall drink its fill of blood, and their soil shall be gorged with fat.Isaiah 34:7 English Standard Version
Save me from the lion’s mouth;From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.Psalm 22:21 Amplified Bible
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured on me.Psalm 92:10 New International Version
God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.Numbers 23:22 New American Standard Bible
Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes, or will he harrow the valleys after you?Job 39:9-10 English Standard Version
God brought Israel out of Egypt; Israel has strength like the wild ox; He will devour [Gentile] nations, his adversaries (enemies), And will crush their bones in pieces, And shatter them with his arrows.Numbers 24:8 Amplified Bible
In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them he will gore the nations,even those at the ends of the earth. Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim; such are the thousands of Manasseh.Deuteronomy 33:17 New International Version
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.Psalm 29:6 New American Standard Bible
In all other translations of these verses besides the King James Version, we see that the word “unicorn” is replaced with the word “wild oxen“.
So this brings to mind the question, how do we know if unicorns were actually real? Keep reading to find out.
Why did the KJV use “Unicorn”?
To fully understand the translation of the word unicorn, we must go back to its original roots in Hebrew. I know, kind of boring, but hang with me here.
The word that is actually used in the Hebrew Bible that is translated in the King James Version for unicorn is רְאֵם (rĕʾēm). The word rĕʾēm refers to an aurochs, a kind of wild ox that was common in the ancient world but went extinct in the early seventeenth century.
So if unicorns are not mentioned in the original Hebrew of the Bible, why are they mentioned in the Old Testament of the King James Version?
To answer this question we also have to look at the Greek translation. The translators of the Septuagint consistently translated the Hebrew word rĕʾēm with the Greek word μονόκερως (monókerōs), meaning “unicorn.” The Septuagint translators were unfamiliar with the original meaning of the Hebrew word, so they substituted it with a more familiar Greek word, μονόκερως (monókerōs), meaning “unicorn.” In some passages, the Latin word unicorns are translated as rhinoceros, meaning “rhinoceros.”
And that ladies and gentlemen, is how the word unicorn was mistranslated. This is also how only the KJV translation ended up with this translation.
What is the best translation of the word Unicorn?
The original Hebrew word basically means “beast with one horn.” So, it’s highly possible that there actually was a wild beast that lived during biblical times with the description of having one horn. But definitely not the fantasy version we all grew up watching in “My Little Pony”.
To think of the biblical unicorn as a fantasy animal is to demean God’s Word, which is true in every detail.Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell
It’s honestly quite comical to me to think that some people actually believe that the “unicorn” (aka one-horned beast) mentioned in the bible was a majestic white horse with a magical horn and could fly. Perhaps the reason for that is more of a desire for it to be true than there is actual evidence proving it to be true. But, that is just my personal opinion.
I know. I was disappointed too. I was inwardly secretly hoping that wasn’t the case. That unicorns really did exist. That maybe my childhood dreams weren’t all for nothing. But alas, we can’t have everything we want.
In all seriousness though, I hope you took away some valuable truth from this blog. That you hopefully understand the importance of cross-referencing bible versions to make sure you’re getting an accurate translation. And also taking time to really study out the greek and Hebrew roots to words really helps you get a deeper understanding of the original intent behind the words used in scripture.