the most powerful of all carnivorous animals. Although not now found in Palestine, they must have been in ancient times very numerous there. They had their lairs in the forests ( Jeremiah 5:6 ; 12:8 ; Amos 3:4 ), in the caves of the mountains (Cant 4:8 ; Nahum 2:12 ), and in the canebrakes on the banks of the Jordan ( Jeremiah 49:19 ; 50:44 ; Zechariah 11:3 ).
No fewer than at least six different words are used in the Old Testament for the lion.
The lion of Palestine was properly of the Asiatic variety, distinguished from the African variety, which is larger. Yet it not only attacked flocks in the presence of the shepherd, but also laid waste towns and villages ( 2 Kings 17:25 2 Kings 17:26 ) and devoured men ( 1 Kings 13:24 1 Kings 13:25 ). Shepherds sometimes, single-handed, encountered lions and slew them ( 1 Samuel 17:34 1 Samuel 17:35 ; Amos 3:12 ). Samson seized a young lion with his hands and "rent him as he would have rent a kid" ( Judges 14:5 Judges 14:6 ). The strength ( Judges 14:18 ), courage ( 2 Samuel 17:10 ), and ferocity ( Genesis 49:9 ) of the lion were proverbial.