Unicorns are not mythological creatures

New fossil evidence shows that an animal, which could be described as a unicorn, once lived on earth. Quite apart from any folklore about magical horses this means the use of the word ‘unicorn’ in early English translations of the Bible is valid.

Like giants, dragons and cockatrices, as it now turns out unicorns also are not mythological creatures. I believe the notion developed that these are mythological stems from the assumption, born from disbelief, that the Bible is not an accurate record of either history nor of science.

I have already examined the claim that giants, dragons and cockatrices are mythological. Here I examine the claim that unicorns are mythological. And it may surprise you to find that they are not the product of an overactive imagination as people have believed. But we must first separate out the facts from the fiction, which may have developed from folklore, where they are alleged to have had wings and magical powers.

Unicorn

Figure 1: The unicorn isn’t just a myth, but it didn’t look like this either. Credit: GETTY (modified).

The word ‘unicorn(s)’ is mentioned in the King James English Bible many times. See Numbers 23:22 and 24:8 states “He [literally Hebrew El, meaning God] has as it were the strength of an unicorn” (KJVER). It was an extremely strong animal. Deuteronomy 33:17 mentions “the horns of unicorns”, which may indicate a two-horned animal. In Psalms 92:10 we read “But my horn shall You [God] exalt like the horn of an unicorn:” (KJVER). Here it had a single horn. And in Isaiah 34:7 the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; …” (KJV).  Also it is mentioned in Job 39:9,10 and Psalms 22:21, 29:6.

The Hebrew word רְאֵם (r’em) is translated ‘unicorn’ in the earliest English translations. In other (old) language translations: Greek ‘μονοκερωτος’ (LXX, Septuagint, 200-300 BC), Latin ‘monocerotis’ (Jerome’s Biblia Sacra Vulgata Latina, or Latin Vulgate, 405 AD), German ‘Einhorns’ (Luther, 1545), Italian ‘liocorno’ (IDB, Giovanni Diodati Bibbia, 1649). Each of these may be translated ‘unicorn’.

The Hebrew word r’em is given the meaning ‘wild bull’ in the Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. And in recent Bible translations it generally translated as ‘ox’ (BBE) ‘wild ox’ (ERV, ASV, NKJV, ISV) or ‘strong bull’ (NET) and in footnotes a synonym is sometimes given as a ‘wild bull’. Continue reading