Unicorns in the Bible
When many people hear that unicorns are mentioned in the Bible, they imagine the mythical unicorn with a flowing mane and a sparkling horn. But, that image of the unicorn is only fantasy. Unicorns are mentioned in the Bible – in fact, they are mentioned in the Bible in nine times. But, before you rush off to check it out for yourself you need to know that the word unicorn only occurs the in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, which means if you have a modern Bible, another word has probably been substituted for unicorn to distinguish the unicorns mentioned in the Bible from the mythical ones.
A Little History – Translations Gone Wrong
Around 250 B.C. a group of Greek scholars undertook the task of translating the original Hebrew Biblical text to Greek to make it available to the public. When these scholars encountered the Hebrew word re’em, they were puzzled. It probably referred to a wild ox with one horn, but because it had become extinct, the Greeks did not have a word for the name of the animal. They did what any good scholar would do and translated it to the closest word they knew. They used the word monokeros, meaning one-horned to describe the Biblical unicorn.
Later, when St. Jerome translated the Bible to Latin, he encountered the word monokeros and did the same thing. He used the Latin word unicornis, which also meant one-horned. In 1611, when a group of scholars translated the Bible to English, there was no English equivalent for the word unicornis, so they coined the new English word unicorn.
So What Was a Monokeros?
Interestingly, the Greek word monoceros (monokeros) gives us more clues to the identity of the Biblical unicorn. Many point to the 1828 version of Webster’s Dictionary as proof that monokeros refers to the mythical unicorn and not some wild ox or rhino. While it is true that Webster’s Dictionary defines a monoceros as a unicorn (MONOC’EROS, noun