The unicorn in Judaism

With the High Holidays coming up, it is a good time to reflect on the unicorn within Judaism. The unicorn is considered one of the four beasts of the Tabernacle, sacrificing itself so that the Tabernacle could use its hide for the curtains. The unicorn is a symbol of Joseph, Jacob’s son. The dreamer who wore a multicolored coat, who saved both Egypt and his people.

In this ceiling painting, the flowers suggest paradise, and the placing of the horn in the lion’s mouth may be a symbol of the horn blown to announce the holiest of the Jewish holidays.

The lion is also an enduring symbol within Judaism, referring to the tribe of Judah itself.

Most of the references to unicorns in English translations of Jewish scripture are a mis-translation of re-em, which is a auroch. Aurochs were wild cattle, extremely large and powerful. They’re the ancestors of most modern cattle.

However, in the book of Daniel, there is a battle between a two horned ram and a one horned goat. This is the singular reference to a unicorn which can not be explained as a mis-translation of re-em.

To my Jewish friends and family, l’shana tova tikateyvu!

If you wish to learn more about unicorns, try my forthcoming book, The Reality, Mythology, and Fantasies of Unicorns available for purchase at:

Barns & Noble

and at the publisher’s bookstore.

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