Deut. 33:17 Is unicorns correct?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Logos1560, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. Logos1560

    Logos1560
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    Deut. 33:17 "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh."

    Is the KJV's rendering "unicorns" the historically attested rendering of the pre-1611 English Bibles?

    Is the KJV's rendering "unicorns" at this verse the most accurate rendering of the Hebrew word used in this verse?

    Was the Hebrew word translated "unicorns" singular or plural in number?

    Does the context support the KJV's rendering in this verse?

    To what animal does the KJV's rendering "unicorns" refer?
     
  2. annsni

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    Unicorns and the KJV
    by Rick Norris

    Are the renderings "unicorn" or "unicorns" in the KJV the best and most accurate translation of the Hebrew? These renderings are found in the KJV nine times: Numbers 23:22, 24:3, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, 29, Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7. The 1611 KJV has the following note in the margin at Isaiah 34:7: "Or, rhinoceros." These renderings seem to be the result of the influence of the Greek Septuagint, which used "monokeros," and the Latin Vulgate, which used "unicornis" or "rhinoceros."

    Do the Hebrew words thus translated in the KJV actually refer to an one-horned animal? Concerning the word "unicorn," the 1895 Sunday School Teachers' Bible (KJV) pointed out: "The LXX translation has passed into our A.V., but is erroneous, as the mention of two horns on one reem (Deut. 33:17) proves." The unabridged WEBSTER'S NEW TWENIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY noted at its entry "unicorn": "in the Bible [KJV], a two-horned, oxlike animal called reem in Hebrew: Deut. 33:17." M'Clintock also observed that this text"puts an one-horned animal entirely out of the question" and that one of its scriptural characteristics is "having two horns" (CYCLOPAEDIA, X, p. 638). UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY also noted that "the reem had more than one horn" (p. 66). The earlier English Bibles (Wycliffe's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Taverner's, Geneva, and Bishops') all had "unicorn" [singular] at Deuteronomy 33:17. In his 1848 Bible (KJV) and Commentary, Adam Clarke wrote: "'Reem' is in the singular number, and because the horns of an unicorn, an one- horned animal, would have appeared absurb, our [KJV] translators, with an unfaithfulness not common to them, put the word in the plural number" (I, p. 834).

    The context at Deuteronomy 33:17 also supports the view that this animal had more than one horn. William Houghton wrote: "The two horns of the reem are 'the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh'--the two tribes which sprang from one, i.e. Joseph, as two horns from one head" (SMITH'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, p. 3351).

    In his commentary on Job, Henry Morris stated: "The Hebrew word translated unicorn in this and other passages is believed by most Hebrew scholars to refer to the huge and fierce aurochs or wild ox, which inhabited the Middle East and other regions but is now extinct" (p. 107). W. L. Alexander wrote: "The reem is supposed to be the aurochs, an animal of the bovine species, allied to the buffalo, now extinct" (THE PULPIT COMMENTARY, III, p. 537). UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY noted that this Hebrew word "most certainly denotes the 'wild ox,' for the cognate word in Akkadian 'rimu' has this meaning" (p. 66). Charles Spurgeon wrote: "The unicorn may have been some gigantic ox or buffalo now unknown and perhaps extinct" (TREASURY OF DAVID, II, p. 119). William Houghton concluded: "Considering, therefore, that the reem is spoken of as a two-horned animal of great strength and ferocity, that it was evidently well known and often seen by the Jews, that is it mentioned as an animal fit for sacrifical purposes, and that it is frequently associated with bulls and oxen, we think there can be no doubt that some species of wild ox is intended" (SMITH'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, p. 3352). This Hebrew word is translated "wild ox" at Deuteronomy 33:17 in the English translations by Jews such as their HOLY SCRIPTURES ACCORDING TO THE MASORETIC TEXT and TANAKH.

    Considering this evidence and the meaning of the Hebrew word "reem," does the KJV have the best and most accurate translation of this word? Would not a perfect translation have the most accurate and best translation of every Hebrew or Greek word in God's preserved Word? Can it be proven that the KJV is better, more accurate, and clearer in every verse than every other English translation? It takes only one example of a clearer, more accurate, or better rendering in another English translation to prove that the KJV is not a perfect translation. The truth will not harm the KJV. On the other hand, misleading and extreme claims by many KJV defenders that cannot be proven will harm the KJV.

    from http://www.kjv-only.com/rick/unicorns.html
     
  3. Logos1560

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    Following the Greek Septuagint or Latin Vulgate or both, the earlier pre-1611 English Bibles (Wycliffe's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Taverner's, Geneva, and Bishops') all had unicorn [singular] at Deuteronomy 33:17. At this verse, Lancelot Brenton’s 1851 English translation of the Septuagint has “unicorn” [singular]. The 1569 Spanish Bible and 1602 Spanish Valera has unicornio [singular] at this verse. The 1611 KJV changed this noun that was singular in number in the Hebrew Masoretic text and in all the earlier English Bibles to a plural. Either the 1762 Cambridge standard KJV edition or the 1769 Oxford standard KJV edition added the following marginal note for the word unicorns: “Hebrew an unicorn.” Other KJV editions that had marginal notes such as the 1810, 1821, 1835, 1857, 1865, and 1885 Oxford editions, the 1853 American Bible Society standard edition, the 1769, 1844, 1872, 1887, and the 2005 Cambridge editions, and the 2002 Zondervan KJV Study Bible have this same marginal note at this verse. This marginal note in standard editions of the KJV affirms with the earlier pre-1611 English Bibles, the 1602 Spanish Valera, and the 1657 English translation of the Dutch that the Hebrew word was singular in number. There is a plural form for this Hebrew word, which was not used at this verse (Deut. 33:17). The number of the Hebrew word at this verse is the same as its number at Numbers 23:22 [singular]. In his 1828 Dictionary, Noah Webster defined an as “one; noting an individual, either definitely known, certain, specified, or understood; or indefinitely, not certain, known, or specified.” Webster noted that “an, a and one, are the same word, and always have the same sense.” Webster’s New Twentieth-Century Dictionary noted that a is “an abbreviation of Anglo-Saxon an or ane” with the meaning “one.” Therefore, “an” unicorn has the same meaning or sense as “one” unicorn, affirming that the Hebrew word is singular in number. Thus, the Bible in the original language referred to the strength of one reem (Num. 23:22) and to the horns of one reem (Deut. 33:17). Rosh Hashanah [the Babylonian Talmud] as translated into English by Maurice Simon also indicated that the Hebrew word is singular in number: “the horns of a reem” (p. 116). There is also a reference to Deuteronomy 33:17 in the comments on Psalm 22:21 in the Longer Commentary of Rabbi David Kimchi on the First Book of Psalms as translated into English by R. G. Finch that affirms that the Hebrew word is singular in number [“the wild ox will gore with his horns, as it says (Deut. 33:17)” (p. 104). Another reference to this verse is also found in David Kimchi’s Commentary upon the Prophecies of Zechariah as translated into English by Alexander M’Caul in 1837, and it also indicates that the Hebrew word is singular in number (p. 28).


    The context of the verse in Deuteronomy also supports the view that this animal had more than one horn. In the context, the “them” of this verse refers back to “horns.“ William Houghton observed: "The two horns of the reem are 'the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh'--the two tribes which sprang from one, i.e. Joseph, as two horns from one head" (Hacket, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 3351). Likewise, H. B. Tristram commented: “For the two horns of the reem are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh, both growing out of one head, Joseph. This, then, entirely sets aside the fancy that the rhinoceros, which the Jews could scarcely have known, or any one-horned creature, is intended” (Natural History, p. 146). Wiley noted that "the emblem of Joseph was the re'em; and his two powerful sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were typified by two horns" (Bible Animals, p. 429). John Gill noted that the horns “are figures of the power and strength of the tribes of Ephraim and Manesseh.“ T. E. Espin asserted that the “tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are represented by the two mighty horns of the beast” (Cook, Bible Commentary, I, p. 743). Ellicott’s Commentary mentioned “the two-horned power of Joseph” (II, p. 94). The Companion Bible [KJV] suggested that the “horns” are “put by figure Metonymy” for Ephraim and Manasseh (p. 287). These observations concerning the context are also in agreement with another verse (Num. 14:4) which stated: “For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim“. In contrast, KJV-only authors seem to ignore this credible evidence from the context that indicates that this animal had two horns. Should the context be considered the decisive factor in deciding whether the animal had more than one horn or not?
     
  4. Jim1999

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    I can't read that tiny print. but unicorns only exist in Ireland. I have yet to see a unicorn exist in the world.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. robycop3

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    As I've said before, the AV men had no reason to not believe unicorns existed. And I'm not speaking of any other animal when I say 'unicorn' but the horse-like animal with the one spiraled horn in its forehead, as depicted on Great Britain's royal coat-of-arms. The AV men all died before it was found that this unicorn didn't exist & their translation was frozen in time.

    But WE know the unicorn is but a mythical critter, so it's no longer correct to render the Hebrew 're-em' as 'unicorn'.

    In 1967, "The Irish Rovers" had a huge hit song, "The Unicorn". Upon hearing this song, some folx believed unicorns had actually existed. Here's the first verse & chorus from that song:

    (Written by Shel Silverstein)
     
  6. webdog

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    I believe it is a Styrachosaur. It has all the characteristics, including a single prominent horn, other horns, and has the strength mentioned in the text.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Logos1560

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    It has only some of the characteristics of a reem, not all. The Styrachosaur may have been extinct before the time of Moses. Besides that, there would be some of the same problems with that suggestion as with that of the rhinoceros.


    J. G. Wood claimed that “the unicorn has been erroneously supposed to be identical with the rhinoceros of India” (Story of the Bible Animals, p. 159). One serious problem with the identification of the reem with the rhinoceros is that a rhinoceros was not an animal that was used as a sacrifice by the Jews in the O. T. times. Houghton noted that the rhinoceros “would have been forbidden to be sacrificed by the Law of Moses, whereas the reem is mentioned by Isaiah as coming down with bullocks and rams to the Lord’s sacrifice” (Hackett, Smith's Dictionary, p. 3351). Wiley maintained that the reem "were counted among animals fit for sacrifice and associated with bovines" (Bible Animals, pp. 431-432). Henry Hart also asserted that “in Isaiah 34:7, the reem is spoken of as suitable for sacrifice” (Animals, p. 214). John Worcester also claimed that “it was fit for sacrifice” (Animals, p. 22). The scriptural association and connection of the reem with domesticated work animals at Job 39:9-12 and with domesticated cattle and animals used for sacrifice at Isaiah 34:6-7 would conflict with the claim that the reem could be the rhinoceros. The horns of the reem were indicated to be like the horns of a bullock (Deut. 33:17). The horn of a rhinoceros is different. Although the reem was signified as being too strong (Job 39:11) to be used as a work animal, it was still associated with this type of animal. Is there any evidence that shows that those who lived in the time of Job would have considered a rhinoceros as the type animal to be possibly put in a yoke and used to plow and that could eat from a crib? A Biblical Cyclopaedia edited by John Eadie noted that the reem “seems to have been reckoned as belonging to the bovine species, with the tame and domesticated members of which it is sometimes contrasted” (p. 654). McClintock maintained that "the skipping of the young reem (Ps. 29:6) is scarcely compatible with the habits of a rhinoceros" (Cyclopaedia, X, p. 638). When young, the reem was frisky like a calf. Even KJV-only author James Knox acknowledged that this animal “is connected with young calves that skip (Ps. 29:6) and with bulls and bullocks (Deut. 33:17, Isa. 34:7)“ (By Definition, p. 170). Houghton concluded: "Considering, therefore, that the reem is spoken of as a two-horned animal of great strength and ferocity, that it was evidently well known and often seen by the Jews, that it is mentioned as an animal fit for sacrificial purposes, and that it is frequently associated with bulls and oxen, we think there can be no doubt that some species of wild ox is intended" (Hackett, Smith's Dictionary, p. 3352). While there are some varieties or species of the rhinoceros which have two horns, all the evidence considered together does not make a compelling case for the view that the reem was or could be a rhinoceros.
     
    #7 Logos1560, Jan 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2009
  8. Salamander

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    Just because ignorant and unlearned men change the meaning of a word doesn't mean it can't retain its root meaning!

    Allowing the changing of words to hold precedence over their meaning is absolutely unintelligent and against literacy altogether.
     
  9. robycop3

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    The root meaning could well be "wild ox".

    Wanna shut us up, Sal? Easy? Just show us a live horse-like unicorn as depicted on KJ's coat-of-arms!

    There now, that aint so hard, is it?
     
  10. Logos1560

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    Are you referring to the meaning of the Hebrew word reem that was given by inspiration of God? The Hebrew word at Deuteronomy was singular in number, and this one reem was said to have horns [plural].

    Are you allowing a word from the 1600's to hold precedence over the meaning of a much older Hebrew word?

    Since your comments seem to indicate that you think everyone that does not accept KJV-only reasoning is "ignorant and unlearned," why don't you inform everyone concerning which actual animal the KJV translators intended by their rendering?
     
  11. Keith M

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    Salamander accepts one myth. Why not accept one or two more?

    Maybe the Irish Rovers were right after all...

    :rolleyes: :smilewinkgrin: :eek:
     
  12. webdog

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    FWIW...a myth is not necessarily something that is fiction ;)
     
  13. Keith M

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    Not necessarily...

    IMHO, the first definition of myth hits the nail on the head. The KJVO position has no determinable basis of fact - it isn't even hinted at anywhere in Scripture. The third definition of myth perfectly describes the KJVO position. And although the KJVO position isn't exactly a "social institution" it definitely, IMO, is a false collective belief - at least it's a collective belief for a few folks I firmly believe are deceived into an errant position.
     
  14. robycop3

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    And, of course, we have the MAN-MADE SOURCE of the current KJVO doctrine right before us!
     

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