(1) Occurring most often in the Old Testament is 'aryeh, plural 'ardyoth. Another form, 'ari, plural 'arayim, is found less often.

1. Names:

Compare 'ari'el, "Ariel" (Ezra 8:16; Isaiah 29:1,2,7); char'el, "upper altar," and 'ari'el, "altar hearth" (Ezekiel 43:15); 'aryeh, "Arieh" (2 Kings 15:25); 'ar'eli, "Areli" and "Arelites" (Genesis 46:16; Numbers 26:17).

(2) kephir, "young lion," often translated "lion" (Psalms 35:17; Proverbs 19:12; 23:1, etc.).

(3) shachal, translated "fierce lion" or "lion" (Job 4:10; 10:16; 28:8; Hosea 5:14).

(4) layish, translated "old lion" or "lion" (Job 4:11; Proverbs 30:30; Isaiah 30:6).

Compare Arabic laith, "lion":

layish, "Laish," or "Leshem" (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:7,14,27,29); layish, "Laish" (1 Samuel 25:44; 2 Samuel 3:15).

(5) lebhi, plural lebha'im, "lioness", also labhi', and 'lebhiya' (Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; 24:9); compare town in South of Judah, Lebaoth (Joshua 15:32) or Beth-lebaoth (Joshua 19:6); also Arabic labwat, "lioness "; Lebweh, a town in Coele-Syria.

(6) aur, gor, "whelp," with 'aryeh or a pronoun, e.g. "Judah is a lion's whelp," gur 'aryeh (Genesis 49:9); "young ones" of the jackal (Lamentations 4:3). Also bene labhi', "whelps (sons) of the lioness" (Job 4:11); and kephir 'arayoth, "young lion," literally, "the young of lions" (Judges 14:5). In Job 28:8, the King James Version has "lion's whelps" for bene shachats, the Revised Version (British and American) "proud beasts." the Revised Version margin "sons of pride"; compare Job 41:34 (Hebrew 26).

(7) leon, "lion" (2 Timothy 4:17; Hebrews 11:33; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 4:7; 5:5; The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17; Ecclesiasticus 4:30; 13:19; Bel and the Dragon 31,32,34).

(8) skumnos, "whelp" (1 Macc 3:4).

2. Natural History:

The lion is not found in Palestine at the present day, though in ancient times it is known to have inhabited not only Syria and Palestine but also Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula, and its fossil remains show that it was contemporary with prehistoric man in Northwestern Europe and Great Britain. Its present range extends throughout Africa, and it is also found in Mesopotamia, Southern Persia, and the border of India. There is some reason to think that it may be found in Arabia, but its occurrence there remains to be proved. The Asiatic male lion does not usually have as large a mane as the African, but both belong to one species, Fells leo.

3. Figurative:

Lions are mentioned in the Bible for their strength (Judges 14:18), boldness (2 Samuel 17:10), ferocity (Psalms 7:2), and stealth (Psalms 10:9; Lamentations 3:10). Therefore in prophetical references to the millennium, the lion, with the bear, wolf, and leopard, is mentioned as living in peace with the ox, calf, kid, lamb and the child (Psalms 91:13; Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25). The roaring of the lion is often mentioned (Job 4:10; Psalms 104:21; Isaiah 31:4 (the Revised Version (British and American) "growling"); Jeremiah 51:38; Ezekiel 22:25; Hosea 11:10). Judah is a "lion's whelp" (Genesis 49:9), likewise Da (Deuteronomy 33:22). It is said of certain of David's warriors (1 Chronicles 12:8) that their "faces were like the faces of lions." David's enemy (Psalms 17:12) "is like a lion that is greedy of his prey." "The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion" (Proverbs 19:12). God in His wrath is "unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah" (Hosea 5:14). "The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). "Lion" occurs in the figurative language of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. The figures of lions were used in the decorations of Solomon's temple and throne (1 Kings 7:29,36; 10:19).

4. Narrative:

Nearly all references to the lion are figurative. The only notices of the lion in narrative are of the lion slain by Samson (Judges 14:5); by David (1 Samuel 17:34); by Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22); the prophet slain by a lion (1 Kings 13:24; also 1 Kings 20:36); the lions sent by the Lord among the settlers in Samaria (2 Kings 17:25); Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 6:16). In all these cases the word used is 'aryeh or 'ari.

5. Vocabulary:

The Arabic language boasts hundreds of names for the lion. Many of these are, however, merely adjectives used substantively. The commonest Arabic names are sab`, 'asad, laith, and labwat, the last two of which are identified above with the Hebrew layish and labhi'. As in Arabic, so in Hebrew, the richness of the language in this particular gives opportunity for variety of expression, as in Job 4:10,11:

"The roaring of the lion ('aryeh), and the voice of the fierce lion (shachal),

And the teeth of the young lions (kephirim), are broken.

The old lion (layish) perisheth for lack of prey,

And the whelps of the lioness (bene labhi') are scattered abroad."

In Judges 14:5-18, no less than three different terms, kephir 'arayoth, aryeh, and 'ari, are used of Samson's lion.

Alfred Ely Day

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'LION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.