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"Unicorns in the Bible" by Tommy Tighe (CatholicMom.com) By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]I was enjoying Catholic radio during my typical commute to work one recent morning when I heard something that almost caused me to drive off the road. The host of the morning drive-time show casually mentioned that unicorns appear in the Bible. Yes. Those unicorns. That Bible. I’ll give you a minute to climb back into your chair. It would seem the most well-known passage about the mythical creature may be Numbers 23:22:
“God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of the unicorn.”
Believe it or not, that’s far from the only spot! Psalm 92:10 adds another reference:
“But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn. I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
Actually, there are 9 different places unicorns are referenced in Sacred Scripture. Now, to be fair, these are all translations of the Hebrew word re’em, which scholars would say most likely refers to a creature similar to a wild ox or some other ancestor of today’s common cattle. While the King James Version of the Bible translates re’em as "unicorn," most other translations (including the various Catholic translations) have settled on "wild ox" instead. But that’s not nearly as fun. So how did we end up with unicorns in some translations of Sacred Scripture? According to an article from BeliefNet:
“Biblical scholar Bert Thompson, PH.D, agrees. ‘When the first Greek translation of the Bible was prepared about 250 B.C., the re’em was already rare in the long-settled areas of the Near East. The Greeks, who had no direct experience with it, had no word for it.’ So, in their Septuagint translation of the Hebrew, they used the Greek word monokeros, which means “one-horned.” When the Bible was translated into Latin by St. Jerome, he used the Latin word unicorns - which means ‘one-horned’ - but does not necessarily mean a horse with a single horn.”
You can feel free to go along with the seemingly more accurate translation of wild ox if you’d like, but as for me and my family, we’ll stick with unicorns. After all, couldn’t we all use a little more magic and wonder in our lives these days?
Copyright 2018 Tommy Tighe