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Unicorn


Unicorn, the rendering of the Authorized Version of the Hebrew reêm, a word which occurs seven times in the Old Testament as the name of some large wild animal. The reêm of the Hebrew Bible, however, has nothing at all to do with the one-horned animal of the Greek and Roman writers, as is evident from Deut. 33:17, where, in the blessing of Joseph, it is said, “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of a unicorn”; not, as the text of the Authorized Version renders it, “the horns of unicorns.” The two horns of the reêm are “the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh.” This text puts a one-horned animal entirely out of the question. Considering that the reêm 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. The allusion in Ps. 92:10, “But thou shalt lift up, as a reêym, my horn,” seems to point to the mode in which the Bovid™ use their horns, lowering the head and then tossing it up. But it is impossible to determine what particular species of wild ox is signified. Probably some gigantic urus is intended. (It is probable that it was the gigantic Bos primigenius, or aurochs, now extinct, but of which Cæsar says, “These uri are scarcely less than elephants in size, but in their nature, color, and form are bulls. Great is their strength and great their speed; they spare neither man nor beast when once they have caught sight of them.”—Bell. Gall. vi. 20.—Ed.)

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The Wild Ox (Unicorn).