One reem [unicorn] had two horns

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Logos1560, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. Logos1560

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    I think that there is a compelling, overwhelming case for asserting that the animal identified by the Hebrew word that is translated "unicorn" or "unicorns" in the KJV had two horns.
     
  2. Salty

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    thank you, now I can sleep peacefully tonight
     
  3. Logos1560

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    The KJV's renderings "unicorn" or "unicorns" are examples where the KJV may not give the most accurate or precise rendering of the Hebrew. These renderings are found in the KJV nine times: Numbers 23:22, 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, 10, Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7. In his book recommended by some KJV-only advocates, Gustavus Paine maintained that “the mythical unicorn is found in nine Bible verses” (Men, p. 61). John Worcester asserted that “the name ‘unicorn’ is a translator’s mistake” (Animals, p. 22). Ronald Bridges and Luther Weigle noted: "The mistaken rendering began with the Greek Septuagint, which used monokeros, and the Latin Vulgate, which used unicornis or rhinoceros" (KJB Word Book, p. 353). William Houghton asserted that “the ‘Unicorn’ of our English Bible owes its origin to the Septuagint and Vulgate versions” (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, X, p. 365). At its entry reem, the 1897 American Encyclopaedic Dictionary noted: “In the A. V. the influence of the Septuagint has prevailed, and the word is translated unicorn, but erroneously, as the mention of two horns on one reem (Deut. 33:17) proves” (Vol. 8, p. 3391). This rendering may have also been from the influence of the Hebrew-Latin lexicons that gave the renderings of the Latin Vulgate as the definition for many Hebrew words. According to a consistent application of the claims in Gail Riplinger’s book Hazardous Materials, did the Hebrew-Latin lexicon used by the KJV translators borrow its definition for the Hebrew word reem from a corrupt Bible translation--the Latin Vulgate? In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster defined unicorn as "an animal with one horn; monoceros." In his 1755 dictionary, Samuel Johnson defined it as “a beast, whether real or fabulous, that has only one horn.”
     
  4. preachinjesus

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    Perhaps if you could catch one and let us study it than we could resolve this point definitively. I'll anticipate your research in this area. :)
     
  5. Logos1560

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    Concerning the word unicorn, the 1895 Sunday School Teachers' Bible maintained: "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 Illustrated Bible Treasury asserted: “That the translation [unicorn] is impossible, even if there ever had been such a creature, is shown by Deuteronomy 33:17, where the two horns of one reem are spoken of” (p. 283). McClintock and Strong also observed that this text "puts a one-horned animal entirely out of the question" and that one of its scriptural characteristics is "having two horns" (Cyclopaedia, X, p. 638). Worcester maintained that “the Bible says that the animal has ‘horns,‘ not one horn (Deut. 33:17)“ (Animals, p. 22). The unabridged Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary noted at its entry unicorn: "in the Bible, a two-horned, oxlike animal called reem in Hebrew: Deut. 33:17" (p. 1998). Since the Hebrew word reem is singular at Deuteronomy 33:17, Unger's Bible Dictionary and Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible also noted that "the reem had more than one horn" (p. 66; Hastings, IV, p. 834). The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible also confirmed that the Biblical animal "was 2-horned (Deut. 33:17), where the word is singular, and not plural, as in A. V.)" (p. 617). The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible also referred to the animal's "2 horns (Deut. 33:17)" as "its outstanding characteristic" (I, p. 114). Likewise, Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary asserted that the reem had “two horns” (p. 714). The People’s Dictionary of the Bible also noted that “the passages mentioning it, correctly understood, require an animal with two horns” (p. 210). Based on this same verse, Cansdale pointed out that "there is no possibility of it [the reem] referring to a one-horned animal" (All the Animals, p. 82). Concerning this verse, Tristram maintained that “nothing could prove more clearly than this passage that the ‘unicorn’ was a two-horned animal” (Natural History, p. 146). At Numbers 23:22, Ellicott’s Commentary has a note that affirms that Deuteronomy 33:17 indicates “that the reem had more than one horn” (I, p. 546). J. C. Granbery also described this animal as “having two horns” (Bible Dictionary, p. 396). Robert Tuck noted that “the fact that the reem was an animal with two horns is settled by the passage, Deuteronomy 33:17” (Handbook, p. 341). Henry Hart maintained that “a two-horned animal is referred to” at Deuteronomy 33:17 (Animals, p. 214). William Houghton asserted that “the Hebrew word (Reem) denotes a two-horned animal, beyond a shadow of a doubt” (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, X, p. 365).

    In his 1848 Bible (KJV) and Commentary, Adam Clarke wrote: "Reem is in the singular number, and because the horns of a unicorn, a one-horned animal, would have appeared absurd, our [KJV] translators, with an unfaithfulness not common to them, put the word in the plural number" (I, p. 834). John Kitto maintained: “The name is singular, not plural, although our translators make it here ‘unicorns,‘ because it would have been absurd to say ‘the horns of the unicorn,‘--that is, the horns of the one-horned beast” (Daily Bible, p. 221). Concerning Deuteronomy 33:17, Robert Brown claimed that “our [KJV] translators render the singular by the plural” (Unicorn, p. 8). Michael Bright asserted: “The Hebrew word is in fact singular, yet in the verse from Deuteronomy--’horns of unicorns’--the [KJV] translators have opted for the plural” (Beasts, p. 5). Bright affirmed that the Hebrew indicates “that the reem had more than one horn” (Ibid.). William Houghton declared: “Our translators, seeing the contradiction involved in the expression ‘horns of the Unicorn,‘ have rendered the Hebrew singular noun as if it were a plural form in the text” (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, X, p. 365). Jack Lewis wrote: “They did encounter trouble in Deuteronomy 33:17 where the unicorn has horns, but the translators solved the problem by reading ’unicorns’” (English Bible, p. 63).


    Likely 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] as does Henry Howard‘s 1857 English translation of the Pentateuch of the LXX. 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. The 1762 Cambridge standard KJV edition and the 1769 Oxford standard KJV edition have the following marginal note for the word unicorns: “Hebrew an unicorn.” The marginal note can be seen in an edition of the KJV printed in London in 1711 so it was added before 1762. 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. Tristram affirmed that this marginal reading “is here undoubtedly correct so far as regards the singular number” (Natural History, p. 146). 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).



     
  6. AntennaFarmer

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    Me too!

    A.F.
     
  7. Logos1560

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    This thread could be considered an attempt to follow the suggestion that Dr. Bob mentioned in another thread. The focus of this thread is mostly one verse [Deuteronomy 33:17], its context, and verses that relate to the same thing.

     
  8. Logos1560

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    context indicates that a reem had two horns

    The context of the verse in Deuteronomy supports the view that this animal had more than one horn. In the context, the “them” of this verse refers back to “horns.“ George Paxton wrote: “Moses, in his benediction of Joseph, states a most important fact, that it has two horns; the words are: His horns are like the horns of (a reem, in the singular number) an unicorn. Some interpreters, determined to support the claims of the unicorn to the honour of a place in the sacred volume, contend, that in this instance the singular, by an enallage or change of number, is put for the plural. But this is a gratuitous assertion; and besides, if admitted, would greatly diminish the force and propriety of the comparison. The two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manassah, had been adopted into the family of Jacob, and appointed the founders of two distinct tribes, whose descendants in the time of Moses were become numerous and respectable in the congregation. These were the two horns with which Joseph was to attack and subdue his enemies, and by consequence, propriety required an allusion to a creature, not with one, but with two horns” (Illustrations of the Holy Scriptures, II, pp. 191-192). With the two horns of a reem, he [singular] shall push.


    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). M’Clintock and Strong 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.el., Joseph, as two horns from one head” (Cyclopaedia, X, p. 638). 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). Robert Tuck wrote: “The two horns of the reem represent the two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, which sprang from the one tribe Joseph” (Handbook, p. 341). 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 a decisive factor in deciding whether the animal had more than one horn or not?

     
  9. franklinmonroe

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    What I find more interesting than the language and contextual proofs is that most 17th century Europeans still held the possibility that an animal similar in likeness to our 'fantasy' unicorn atually existed. Notice zoological books published at about the same time; observe the UK Royal Coat-of-Arms (James, 1603). Indeed, many early readers of the AV were visualizing a one-horned horse-like beast at these passages. It would not surprise me to learn that sermons were preached at the time that the Bible would be proven accurate when physical proof of this animal would be discovered.
     
    #9 franklinmonroe, Dec 14, 2010
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  10. Logos1560

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    The actual animal [the reem] is likely extinct. There is no need to catch one and study it in order to know whether or not the reem had two horns since the Bible already makes it clear and definite that it did have. Have you considered the clear evidence from the context?
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    Any chance that the translators favored the word "unicorn" because it would be pleasing to their Scottish boss?
     
  12. Logos1560

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    related evidence from Ps. 22:21

    It has also been maintained that Psalm 22:21 indicates that the reem had two horns. Friedrich Delitzsch asserted: “Who does not see the obvious contradiction involved in the translation of Psalm 22:21, ‘For thou hast heard me from the horns [dual in Hebrew] of the unicorns,’ where more than one horn is ascribed to the unicorn?” (Hebrew Language, p. 6). Moses Stuart noted: “The dual in Hebrew is used principally to designate such objects as are double either by nature or by custom” (Hebrew Grammar, p. 271). The Hebrew word for horns has a dual form that can be used. Scrivener indicated that where KJV editions have “two horns” or “two horns” at Daniel 8:3, 6, 20 “the noun is dual” (Authorized Edition, p. 34). Just as this dual form for the Hebrew word for horns was translated “two horns” in Daniel, it could just as accurately been translated “two horns” in reference to the reem. Robert Brown cited Deuteronomy 33:17 as follows: “his horns (i.e. two horns) are like the horns of a wild bull” (Unicorn, p. 9).


    In his commentary, John Hewlett wrote: “The reems are in effect called ‘wild bulls’ by the Psalmist, Psalm 22. For those he styles ‘bulls of Bashan;‘ i.e. of the mountains of Bashan, verse 12, he calls ‘reems;‘ verse 21, as though they were synonymous terms” (Vol. 2, p. 397). Charles Taylor also quoted or noted that the “reems are in effect called wild bulls” . . . “as though they were synonymous terms” (Scripture Illustrated, p. 192). In the Companion Bible, E. W. Bullinger has this note: “unicorns=the bulls of v. 12” (p. 740). In his 1839 book edited from the writings of others, George Bush indicated that the three animals in verses 20 and 21 correspond “to the three before mentioned as besetting him, but ranged in an inverted order, viz. the dog, the lion, and the reem, in place of the bulls of Basham (Illustrations of the Holy Scriptures, p. 403). He added that “the interference is almost irresistible, that the reemim of verse 21 are the parim of verse 12, the bulls of Bashan (Ibid.). He continued: “At least we may infer that the reem was an animal not so unlike those bulls that it might with propriety be interchanged with them in poetic parallelism” (Ibid.). In his Commentary on the Bible, J. R. Dummelow asserted: “In this [Ps. 22:21] and the preceding verse the figures of verses 12, 13, 16 (bulls, lions, dogs) are repeated” (p. 338). Does Psalm 22:12 provide the scriptural built-in definition for reem?


     
  13. Logos1560

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    answer to KJV-only claims about Ps. 92:10

    Some KJV-only advocates sometimes maintain that Psalm 92:10 proves that the reem had only one horn. Is it really a problem to refer to one horn of an animal that had two horns according to another verse? Is it incorrect to refer to a horn [singular] of an ox that has two horns (Exod. 21:29)? If someone mentions or describes the leg [singular] of a horse, it would not be claimed that the person was saying that the horse has only one leg. It is common to speak in the singular of various members of an animal even when those members are plural in number. John Kitto observed: “It is quite usual, poetically, or in common discourse, to speak in the singular of those members of men and animals which are really dual or plural” (Daily Bible, p. 222). When David referred to “the paw of the lion” and to “the paw of the bear” (1 Sam. 17:37), he was not saying or claiming that a lion or bear has only one paw. Likewise, referring to the horn of the reem would not prove that the reem definitely had only one horn. The phrase the “horn” of the reem would not declare that the reem was one-horned near as strongly as the phrase the “horns” of the reem would declare it to be not one-horned. It is wrong to seem to attempt to make Psalm 92:10 contradict Deuteronomy 33:17. The evidence from Deuteronomy 33:17 is much stronger than the incorrect assumptions and claims of some KJV-only advocates concerning Psalm 92:10.
     
  14. robycop3

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    The very word "unicorn" means "one horn". I believe the AV men used that word for the reem because many people at that time believed the horse-like unicorn was a real animal. Deut. 33:17 indeed suggests the reem had more than one horn.

    I don't think we should criticize the AV men for using "unicorn", as they had no reason to believe it didn't exist, but conversely, the KJVOs should not criticize later versions for using the name of another animal instead.
     
  15. Amy.G

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    The NKJV says "wild ox". Isn't this one of those words that is hard to translate from the Hebrew?

    Whatever this animal was, it was huge and powerful and you could not tame it, according to God's description of it to Job. (Possibly the rhinoceros which has one horn.)

    Or...maybe it was some type of dinosaur. I believe there were dinos on earth when Job lived.
     
    #15 Amy.G, Dec 18, 2010
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  16. Logos1560

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    Was the reem a rhinoceros?


    It is true that some have suggested that the reem could be a rhinoceros, but other Bible scholars have pointed out several problems with that claim.




    In agreement with the rendering at some verses in editions of the Latin Vulgate, some may suggest that the reem could be the rhinoceros. Concerning Job 39:9-12 in his commentary on the book of Job, Peter Ruckman wrote: “Now the animal in question has a ‘single horn’ (unicorn, vs. 9) which is probably a reference to something like a rhinoceros” (p. 582). Ruckman wrote: “You don’t find many tame rhinoceroses eating out of a crib (vs. 9) after plowing a field (vs. 10)“ (p. 584). The 1610 Douay O. T. from the Latin Vulgate has “rhinoceros” in the text at Numbers 24:8. The 1611 KJV has the following marginal note from the likely if not certain influence of the Latin Vulgate at Isaiah 34:7: "or, rhinoceros." It is interesting that some KJV-only advocates may appeal to this one marginal note in the 1611 to try to defend a KJV rendering when usually they consider the marginal notes to have no weight at all.


    Kitto asserted that “people were driven to the rhinoceros by the unfounded notion that it was necessary to find a one-horned animal” (Daily Bible, p. 224). J. G. Wood claimed that “the unicorn has been erroneously supposed to be identical with the rhinoceros of India” (Story, p. 159). That identification may be based on its Latin name [Rhinoceros unicornis]. One very 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. Concerning Job 39 in his 1816 Commentary, John Hewlett noted that the reem “is represented in our author’s description as qualified by its make and strength for the business of agriculture, like the tame ox” (Vol. 2, p. 397). 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). The Encyclopedia of Mammals asserted that “the fearsome appearance of the rhino masks a gentle, largely passive creature” (Vol. 13, p. 1934). 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. All the description and character of the reem that is given in the Scriptures do not apply to the rhinoceros.


    Ruckman himself has seemed to contradict his own comment in his Job commentary that the unicorn was something like a rhinoceros. Ruckman seemed to suggest that unicorns were “white horses” with a horn when commenting on Psalm 22:21 in his commentary on Psalms (Vol. I, p. 136). In his comments on Psalm 22:19-21 and after referring to 2 Kings 2:11, Ruckman wrote: “If a horse can be composed of fire, can’t he have a horn? Why are all the unicorns white? It is white horses that show up at the Advent, and if they were in heaven with one horn each, then God would have heard Christ from the Third Heaven--from ‘the horns of the unicorns‘” (Ibid.).
     
  17. Amy.G

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    I didn't read all of this because the print is so small, but I did see the name Peter Ruckman and couldn't care less what he thinks. Sorry.

    What do you think the "unicorn" was?
     

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