What exactly IS a “unicorn” anyway?

We hear from the skeptics so often, that the Bible can’t be trusted because it talks about “unicorns.”  The word “unicorn” comes from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) rendering the Hebrew word raeim as monokeros, meaning “one horn.” And, of course, it is a lightning rod for those who fancy themselves as intellectuals, yet are too smart for their own good. Various translations over the years have rendered it in many different ways:

  • Unicorn (Bishop’s Bible, Geneva Bible, KJV)
  • Wild ox (NKJV, ESV)
  • Rhinoceros (Dhouey-Rheims)
  • Buffalo (Darby)

At any rate, let’s take a look at just what a “unicorn” is. He is found 9 times in Scripture. Here are 4 of those times:

Numbers 23:21-22He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
Numbers 24:8God 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.
Job 39:9-10Will 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 [plow] the valleys after thee?
Psalm 92:9-10For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

So from these words we can see the following about this “unicorn”:

  • He was strong
  • He is untamed
  • He is capable of plowing large areas
  • His horn must have also been rather large

Keil and Delitzch–whose commentaries on the Hebrew of the Old Testament (written in the 1800’s) would be a great help to any who use them–contend that the refernce is to an oryx. Of this oryx they say:

The oryx also appears on Egyptian monuments sometimes with two horns, but mostly with one variously curled; and both Aristotle (Note: Vid., Sundevall, Die Thierarten des Aristoteles (Stockholm, 1863), S. 64f.) and Pliny describe it as a one-horned cloven-hoof; so that one must assent to the supposition of a one-horned variety of the oryx (although as a fact of natural history it is not yet fully established), as then there is really tolerably certain information of a one-horned antelope both in Upper Asia and in Central Africa.

Not to sound like I know more than these gentlemen, but–well, like one fellow I know puts it, give science enough time and they will catch up with the Bible. Keep reading and you’ll understand what I’m getting at. Anyway, if you’ve ever seen pictures of an oryx–well, does this look like a huge beast with great strength capable of plowing an entire valley:

Yeah, it’s a good-sized animal. And it does tend to fit the description of the animal referred to in Psalm 29:5-6The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. But does it look like something that fits the descriptions listed in the other Scriptures? Not quite. It certainly doesn’t look like an animal one would use to plow an entire valley with (a small plot of land, maybe, but not a whole valley).

However, consider the animal pictured below:



This is what scientists have called a “monoclonius.” A big, huge, strong animal that could very easily plow the land. And considering the metaphors God was laying out to Job (“Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook?” And “Only He who made [Behemoth] can bring near his sword”), I believe that when God asked Job if the “unicorn” would “plow the valley behind you” He was asking if Job was strong enough to bind this animal, tame it, and bring it under his control.

But you know, all that talk about “unicorns” is so crazy. After all, the Bible “never talks about dinosaurs.” **SIGH**

15 thoughts on “What exactly IS a “unicorn” anyway?

  1. Quote: ‘After all, the Bible “never talks about dinosaurs.”

    We know you’re being a little sarcastic here, but I have spent the years teaching my children about the creation/evolution debates that have been raging for centuries.

    We have to teach our children, just like evolutionist teach theirs.

    It not just about emotional feelings concerning God and His word, although, that does happen, but we need to generate a trust in Sola Scriptura in our children, irrespective of popular opinion.

    And, by the way, ‘monoclonius’ does not look like he would plough a field!


  2. I think the very point of Job would be Monoclonius would certainly NOT plough a field (and neither would a fictitious creature like a unicorn.) I think the Scripture in Job is asking a hypothetical question and it seems a bit sarcastic.

    It is a striking fact that NONE of the above cited scriptures even require the existence of a REAL UNICORN. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the Bible is forbidden from even mentioning mythical animals. As literature, it is allowed!

    The first and second scriptures are just saying God is strong. The third points out Job’s weakness, the fourth is talking about having a BIG horn. Large horns were symbolic of strength! The fifth is a metaphor and if the writer wanted to say God makes the fish fly like Pegasus there would be nothing wrong with that either!

    Please do not forget the Bible is literature, divinely inspired and authoritative, yes, but literature is full of figures of speech. If you wish to study Scripture, you need to study literature also!


  3. Journeyman,

    The point God was making to Job in that whole section was to show Job that Job was just a man and that all things are under God’s control, even the mightiest of creatures (such as Behemoth and Leviathan and Monoclonius). God was not being sarcastic, but rather asking Job, “Who do you think you are to suppose you know all of My ways? Can you tame and control the mightiest of beasts? Beasts which I created? No, you can’t. But I can

    When Job saw how puny he was, and saw how awesome God is, that caused him to repent and humble himself–the result God was looking for.


  4. Fourpointer,

    You are right about God displaying his power through his questioning of Job, and it being an unsaid “Who do you think you are,” can you do this? Can you do this? Can you do this? The answer each time is not just no, but obviously not! That particular way of speaking in and of itself is a figure of speech!

    Sarcasm is probably the wrong word. Thinking of a better one. . . .


    Exactly what part of what I said is hogwash? Horns ARE symbolic of power. That is why we mock the devil by giving him itty bitty ones.

    There was no more “exalted horn” than the horn of a unicorn in ancient times. It was considered greatly powerful. People hunted and hunted for them and brought back fake ones to be ground to powder for potions and medicines. That scripture does NOT require Unicorns to be real. Because the writer is asking that his horn- his power be exalted by God in such a manner.

    I believe the entire Bible is the infallible authoritative word of God –all of it divinely inspired. That doesn’t stop it from being literature, that means it is great literature.

    If it is not figurative language, would you like to explain why the cedars of Lebanon are skipping? Were there Ents during the reign of King David and we just don’t know about it?

    I am being silly to make a point. NONE of these Scriptures refer to a live real unicorn. Read them again.

    I strongly recommend Figures of Speech 60 ways to Turn a Phrase by Aurthur Quinn, because he covers lesser known ones such as chiasmus which the Bible is full of. He cites the Bible often as examples of figures.

    I don’t know why I have this angry face by my comments!


  5. Referencing my research with small stone artifacts.

    The hologram image projections from one petroglyph clearly defines the description of the creature mentioned in JOB 39 – 41…the unicorn, the behemoth and the leviathan (Hebrew transliteration meaning swirled…referring to the single horn protruding from the crown on his head.)

    There are over 100 descriptive elements of the creature GOD tells Job of at the climax of the story pertaining to his ‘trials of dedication’. The projections clearly define a single creature…GOD’s most revered and special of all creatures…and the only one ever created.

    The projections from The Unicorn Petroglyph were scribed by The Creator or ‘those who were closer to HIM than humanity’.

    You will observe…

    1. The creature with single swirled horn standing in a furrow with band around his neck (JOB 39: 9,10)

    2. The pastoral creature of great stature described in JOB

    3. The creature with tongue drawn down, garment on his back, double handle bridle, crown on his head (JOB 41: 1-34)

    4. The creature emerging from the arm of The Creator whose hand is pierced by a spike…signifying the Creator of the Old Testament and Savior of the New Testament were ONE. (3rd image attached)

    The biblical scripture defines the creature as the petroglyph projection illustrates the scripture!

    More developments from similar small stone artifacts at (no solicitations: http://www.impactoptics.com/)

    Please contact me…we can talk about this..

    Laser Les
    Clearwater Beach, Fl. USA


  6. One of things that drives me crazy with the Bible translators is when they say in the margins that the Behemoth in Job was a hippo. Does a hippo have a tail like a cedar tree’s trunk? Then another says an elephant’s trunk. C’mon, people, if we would just get over the fact that there were dinosaurs co-exisitng with man, then all of these so-called contradictions would disappear.


  7. There was an article in the paper some time ago about a pilot up in the northern part of Canada or Alaska who saw what he described as a bird (he thought) which had a wingspan the length of one of the wings of his commuter planes (the facts are a little sketchy fo rit was a while ago). If anyone remembers this article, please forward it. Kind of sounds like a pteradactyl to me.


  8. You know they find living fossils all the time, remember the coelocanth fish, it was suppose to have been the early ancestors to the fish that was to have first walked on land with its leg like fins. Only thing is they have found them still alive in only the very deep places, and yes still here swimming. Get a load of this creature, the last time I saw it was on a national geographic magazine showing what the earliest of the prehistoric life was like??? this looks like it is half crab and half fish and still here,Get a good look at it you may not see it for another billion years??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kQ4nLxgauI&feature=related
    Pterodactyls live in warmer climates, this gentlemen says he saw one in New Guinea

    and these guys did as well of course their just not as educated as the other guy so we’re not to take them serous and scientific as those who run the Smithsonian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tynNqRvMrd8
    the thing in Alaska was probably what other have seen many other cases and is something like the Argentavis magnificens a giant bird from about 6 million years ago that had a wing span of 23ft, like a condor. but people continue to see them. Could have been what they saw in Alaska or in San Antonio http://vodpod.com/watch/587645-monster-or-myth-sightings-of-mysterious-giant-bird-continu
    And like the latest ape bones they’ve found in Africa, where Lucys bones were found, they named it, isn’t that sweet, anyway they have found some newer ones still alive in the Congo, their just not sure as what to call it??? http://karlammann.com/bondo.html
    With the science of DNA and the complexity of the workings of the cell more Darwinian scientist are falling out the ranks of atheistic science. Seeing these things it makes no difference though they know they still don’t acknowledge God and his work in Christ even if they do become deist; Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
    Like this guy:http://www.learnthebible.org/world-famous-atheist-converted-by-the-scientific-evidence-for-god.html
    There is a book put out by Dr.Walt Brown that is really interesting and informative. He was once an atheist and says he is a Christian. He has a book on line or off called “in the beginning”, you should try reading it, I like the Chapter on the frozen Mammoths.
    Good hunting….


  9. Shoot, Jonathan, there’s enough links here to keep a snoopy guy like me going for quite some time! Have you ever heard about the Plutonium miracle in granite, I believe? That’s a book I have been looking for. It goes into how the plutonium molecule(?) has a certain half life, and it could only be “placed” into granite in a short period of time (something like a day) or it would be no good. I don’t know if you can clarify this, but I heard Kent Hovind talking about it a while back.


  10. check out Dr.Walt browns book, go to the index and look at granite and radioactive half life.
    Page 269; “The Origin of Earth’s Radioactivity” chapter is not yet part of this book. Because of its highly technical nature, the material will be publicly released only when I can have a very high degree of confidence in the accuracy of all its details. The chapter’s summary (abstract) reads as follows:

    SUMMARY: Electrical activity produced earth’s radioactivity. As the flood began, stresses in the massive fluttering crust generated huge voltages through the piezoelectric effect. For weeks, this resulted in powerful surges of electrons within the crust and subterranean water, much like bolts of lightning. These electrical surges squeezed atomic nuclei temporarily together into very unstable, superheavy elements which quickly fissioned and decayed into subatomic particles and new radioisotopes. Each step in this process is demonstrable on a small scale. Calculations and other evidence show that these events happened on a global scale.

    The standard explanation for earth’s radioactive material is that it evolved in stars and their exploded debris. Billions of years later, the earth formed from that debris. Few of the theorized steps can be demonstrated experimentally. Observations on earth and in space support the hydroplate explanation and refute the evolution explanation for earth’s radioactivity.


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