Saturday, December 12, 2009

Biblical Unicorns

One Bible-related legend contends that the unicorn was too high-spirited to ride on Noah’s ark with the other animals and that is how it became extinct. “The Unicorn,” a popular 1967 song by the Irish Rovers with lyrics by Shel Silverstein, insisted the unicorns were too busy playing to make it onto the ark. Some scholars think that the word unicorn in verses such as Psalm 92:10: (“But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of the unicorn; I shall be anointed with fresh oil”), was a mistranslation. The original Hebrew word re’em actually meant some type of unknown animal, but was mistakenly read as “one-horned.” Inspired by no fewer than seven verses about unicorns in the Old Testament, medieval Christians began to portray it in their tapestries and paintings. The unicorn came to signify Jesus Christ. Artists usually showed it as a pure white horse or goat with a long, straight spiraling horn projecting straight out from the forehead, similar to today’s standard version. But there is a reason that the unicorn’s horn, once always shown as thick and curved like a rhino’s, became long, straight, and spiraled.

No comments: