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). 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.”
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).
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). 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.). 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). Rosh Hashanah [the Babylonian Talmud] as translated into English by Maurice Simon also indicated that the Hebrew word is singular in number: “the horns of a reem” (p. 116). There is also a reference to Deuteronomy 33:17 in the comments on Psalm 22:21 in the Longer Commentary of Rabbi David Kimchi on the First Book of Psalms as translated into English by R. G. Finch that affirms that the Hebrew word is singular in number [“the wild ox will gore with his horns, as it says (Deut. 33:17)” (p. 104). Another reference to this verse is also found in David Kimchi’s Commentary upon the Prophecies of Zechariah as translated into English by Alexander M’Caul in 1837, and it also indicates that the Hebrew word is singular in number (p. 28).
When another English translation changes a noun that is singular in number in the KJV to a plural, it is claimed that this type change is “diabolical dynamic equivalency” and is “not accuracy in translation.” For example, D. A. Waite listed several such examples as claimed dynamic equivalencies in his booklet concerning the NKJV (see pages 22-25 in The NKJV compared to KJV). In formal equivalence, Gail Riplinger maintained that “a singular is carried over as a singular” (In Awe, p. 270). According to a consistent application of the KJV-only view’s own reasoning, was the KJV wrong to change a singular to a plural at this verse? Has any valid evidence been presented that proves that this Hebrew word that is singular in number must be precisely translated as plural at this verse? Over and over the evidence shows that the charges and claims of the KJV-only view are not applied consistently.
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).
William Houghton also 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?
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).
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.).
On the other hand, 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 KJV-only advocates concerning Psalm 92:10.
It is likely that the early English translators followed this rendering of the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate because they were not sure to which animal this Hebrew word referred. In his commentary on Job, Henry Morris stated: “The Hebrew word translated unicorn in this and other passages is believed by most Hebrew scholars to refer to the huge and fierce aurochs, or wild ox, which inhabited the Middle East and other regions but is now extinct” (p. 107). George Cansdale maintained that the wild ox or Aurochs “is the beast that Hebrews knew as re’em” (All the Animals, p. 82). W. L. Alexander pointed out: “The reem is supposed to be the aurochs, an animal of the bovine species, allied to the buffalo, now extinct” (Pulpit Commentary, III, p. 537). James Boyd indicated that the Hebrew word reem referred “evidently to a two-horned animal, Deuteronomy 33:17, possibly the now nearly extinct wild ox, auroch, or urus of naturalists” (Bible Dictionary, p. 103).
Roy Pinney maintained that “nearly all Bible scholars and naturalists are agreed that the animal meant was the Aurochs, Urus, or Wild Ox (Bos primigenius) which is now extinct” (Animals in the Bible, p. 103). The Dictionary of the O. T. asserted that “the Hebrew term reem is without doubt the now extinct aurochs, or wild ox Bos primigenius” (Alexander, p. 916). Likewise, Edward Nourse identified the reem as “the wild ox, Bos primigenius, the German Auerochs” (New Standard Bible Dictionary, p. 670). Walter Ferguson also confirmed: “The evidence strongly indicates that it [the reem] was the aurochs, also known as wild ox, giant ox, or urus, an extinct bovine” (Living Animals of the Bible, p. 26). In his commentary on Deuteronomy, S. R. Driver noted that the Auerochs of the old Germans, the Urus of Caesar, have been described “as being nearly as large as an elephant and untamable” (p. 407). Edwin Bissell asserted that the wild ox of the Bible is “improperly represented by ‘unicorn’ in the Authorized Version” (Biblical Antiquities, p. 113). Spurgeon wrote: “The unicorn may have been some gigantic ox or buffalo now unknown, and perhaps extinct” (Treasury of David, II, p. 119). Willmington has “wild ox” in parenthesis after “unicorn” in his list of Bible animals (Complete Book, p. 26).
Waite’s Defined KJB included in its note concerning “unicorns” at Deuteronomy 33:17 the following: “Heb probably the great aurochs or wild bulls which are now extinct” (p. 315). Waite wrote: “Get a Defined King James Bible if you want to have the Words of God translated into understandable English” (Fundamentalist Deception, p. 34). Waite suggested that if “you don’t know what these words mean, get a copy of The Defined King James Bible” [where] “each of the 600 or more uncommon words is defined accurately” (Fundamentalist Mis-Information, p. 91). Concerning Numbers 23:22, David Sorenson also asserted that this creature “likely refers to the aurochs which were great wild bulls, now extinct” (p. 813). In his tract “King James Bible Dictionary,“ O. Ray Smith defined unicorn as “wild bull.“ In his King James Old English Word Definition Guide, Michael Williams defined unicorn as “wild ox” (p. 21). Do most other KJV-only advocates reject this claimed understandable and accurate definition of the Hebrew word given at Deuteronomy 33:17 in Waite’s Defined KJB?
Unger’s Bible Dictionary noted that this Hebrew word “most certainly denotes the ‘wild ox,’ for the cognate word in Akkadian rimu has this meaning (p. 66). Encyclopaedia Biblica maintained that “the Hebrew reem is the same as the Assyrian rimu” (IV, p. 5229). Friedrich Delitzsch asserted: “We know now, by the cuneiform inscriptions, that the reem is the Assyrian rimu, that strong-horned, fierce-looking wild bull, skilled in climbing the mountains, whose colossal and formidable likeness was placed by the Assyrian kings before the entrance of their palaces to ward off and terrify the approaching enemy” (Hebrew Language, p. 7).
At its entry reem, the Oxford English Dictionary declared: “The Hebrew name of an animal mentioned in the Old Testament, now identified with the wild ox” (XIII, p. 453). This same authority on the English language included this statement: “The identification of the Hebrew reem with the wild ox (Bos primgenius) is one of the most certain of all Bible names” (Ibid.). Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defined reem as “the wild ox” (p. 1516). Green’s Concise Lexicon gave the meaning of this Hebrew word as “wild ox” (p. 213). This Hebrew word is translated “wild ox” or “wild oxen” in English translations by Jews such as their 1899 Magil’s Linear School Bible, 1917 Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, and Tanakh. Targum Neofiti 1 of Deuteronomy as translated by Martin McNamara has a note (Deut. 33:17) that maintained that “the HT [Hebrew Text] has ‘horns of a wild ox’” (p. 169, note 53). At Deuteronomy 33:17, Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible gave this marginal note: “i.e., horns of the wild ox.” At Numbers 23:22, the Scofield Reference Bible has the marginal note: “i.e. the aurochs, or wild ox.” The 1952 Pilgrim Edition of the KJV edited by E. Schuyler English and the 2002 New Pilgrim Bible with two KJV-only advocates as consulting editors have the footnote “a name for a wild ox” at Numbers 23:22. The Jewish Commentary on the Psalms by A. Cohen supported the rendering of the Hebrew word at Psalm 22 as “wild-oxen” (p. 64). The English translation by R. G. Finch of the Longer Commentary of Rabbi David Kimchi on the First Book of Psalms has “the wild oxen” in the text at Psalm 22:21 (p. 104).
The quotations and information from various sources clearly show that those English translations that have the rendering “wild ox” or “wild oxen” are not using that rendering to refer to an ordinary present-day sized ox that was wild. Instead, the rendering is used to refer to a now-extinct gigantic-sized ox such as the great auroch or urus that seems to have been as strong and untamable as any known one-horned animal including a rhinoceros. Thus far, no KJV-only authors have provided convincing or compelling evidence to show the specific identity of the animal intended by the KJV’s rendering “unicorn.” Their assumption that the animal had to have only one horn seems to be based on their desire to justify the KJV’s rendering, and it does not seem to be based on any valid and convincing evidence concerning the actual identify of the reem. Does the overall evidence prove that “unicorns” [plural] is the best and most accurate translation at Deuteronomy 33:17?
Pinney offered one possible explanation of how the reem may have become mixed up with the Greek unicorn. He pointed out how the reem is presented on the Ishtar Gate, a brick arch in ancient Babylon that is covered with glazed basreliefs that showed various animals in profile. Pinney noted that “the bi-horned reem, in its appearance on the gate, appears to have but a single horn” (Animals, p. 204). The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible asserted: “The translators of the KJV called the wild ox a unicorn because of representations found on Babylonian mosaics and Egyptians drawings. These representations showed it in strict profile, showing only one horn; hence ‘unicorn'” (I, p. 114). This possibility that an animal could have been misidentified as having only one horn when it actually had two horns is usually ignored. Perhaps this possibility could also be understood to be supported by the fact that several of the pre-1611 English Bibles called another animal that had two horns “unicorn.” At Deuteronomy 14:5, Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s, Great, Geneva, and Bishops’ Bibles all have “unicorn” and the 1602 Spanish Valera has “unicornio” where the KJV has “pygarg.”
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. In addition, the historical evidence from the representations of an unicorn on a Scottish coin, in English heraldry, and in books including even in some KJV editions that will be presented would seem to be another problem for this claim.
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.).
A great deal of evidence indicates that the animal that the Jews knew so well as the reem was not the one-horned animal of Greek and Roman mythology or the animal pictured in English heraldry or in the Royal Coat of Arms. The Oxford English Dictionary noted that the unicorn is “usually depicted heraldically as having the head, neck, and body of a horse, the legs of a deer and tail of a lion, with a straight and spirally twisted horn growing out of the forehead” (XIX, p. 56). This source also mentioned that there was a Scottish coin used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries “with the figure of the unicorn stamped on its obverse” (Ibid.). The title page of the 1616 edition of The Works of the most High and Mighty Prince, James included the typical head of a unicorn as pictured in English heraldry and in the Royal Coat of Arms. Dore pointed out that the 1616 folio edition of the KJV published by Barker has a picture of an unicorn (Old Bibles, p. 336). Herbert also confirmed that the 1616 KJV edition had a picture of an unicorn (Historical Catalogue, p. 196). Herbert also noted that the 1648 KJV edition has the “royal arms with lion and unicorn,” and that before the book of Genesis it has a woodcut of Adam and Eve, with lion on one side and unicorn on the other (p. 196). The 1611 edition also has the royal coat of arms that includes an unicorn. It was King James I of England who introduced the unicorn into the British royal coat of arms. Arnold Whittick maintained that James IV of Scotland first used the unicorn in his Royal Coat of Arms and that “when James VI of Scotland became I of England, he substituted the white unicorn of Scotland for the red dragon of Wales as the sinister supporter, and it has remained there ever since” (Symbols, p. 343). Whittick observed: “With the union of England and Scotland under James I, the lion remained on the dexter side, guardant with a gold crown, and on the sinister side the white unicorn of Scotland was introduced” (p. 25). Kitto claimed: “The sort of animal which our own and still older translators had in view, when they turned the Hebrew reem into a ‘unicorn,‘ is adequately represented by the heraldic animal of that name” (Daily Bible, p. 222). Is there convincing evidence that proves that the KJV translators clearly used the word “unicorn” to mean something completely different than the animal pictured in the 1611 and 1616 edition of their translation, in English heraldry, or on a Scottish coin? If the marginal note in the 1611 edition can be considered, can the picture in the same 1611 edition also not be considered? While the KJV translators may have just kept the rendering from the earlier English Bibles, the readers of the KJV editions with the picture of an unicorn would have very likely associated those representations or pictures with the word in the text.