From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

ארי , or ארה ,  Genesis 49:9;  Deuteronomy 33:22;  Psalms 7:2;  Psalms 22:13;  Hosea 13:8;  Micah 5:8; a large beast of prey, for his courage and strength called the king of beasts. This animal is produced in Africa, and the hottest parts of Asia. It is found in the greatest numbers in the scorched and desolate regions of the torrid zone, in the deserts of Zaara and Billdulgerid, and in all the interior parts of the vast continent of Africa. In these desert regions, from whence mankind are driven by the rigorous heat of the climate, this animal reigns sole master. His disposition seems to partake of the ardour of his native soil. Inflamed by the influence of a burning sun, his rage is tremendous, and his courage undaunted. Happily, indeed, the species is not numerous, and is said to be greatly diminished; for, if we may credit the testimony of those who have traversed those vast deserts, the number of lions is not nearly so great as formerly. Mr. Shaw observes that the Romans carried more lions from Libya in one year for their public spectacles, than could be found in all that country at this time. The lion was also found in Palestine, and the neighbouring countries. The length of the largest lion is between eight and nine feet, the tail about four, and its height about four feet and a half. The female is about one-fourth part less, and without a mane. As the lion advances in years, his mane grows longer and thicker. The hair on the rest of the body is short and smooth, of a tawny colour, but whitish on the belly. Its roaring is loud and dreadful. When heard in the night it resembles distant thunder. Its cry of anger is much louder and shorter. The attachment of a lioness to her young is remarkably strong. For their support she is more ferocious than the lion himself; makes her incursions with greater boldness; destroys, without distinction, every animal that falls in her way, and carries it reeking to her cubs. She usually brings forth in the most retired and inaccessible places; and when afraid that her retreat should be discovered, endeavours to hide her track by brushing the ground with her tail. When much disturbed or alarmed, she will sometimes transport her young, which are usually three or four in number, from one place to another in her mouth; and, if obstructed in her course, will defend them to the last extremity. The habits of the lion and the lioness afford many spirited, and often sublime, metaphors to the sacred writers.

The lion has several names in Scripture, according to his different ages or character:

1. גור , a little lion, a lion's whelp,  Deuteronomy 33:22;  Jeremiah 51:38;  Ezekiel 19:2;  Nahum 2:13 .

2. כפיר , a young lion that has done sucking the lioness, and, leaving the covert, begins to seek prey. for himself. So  Ezekiel 19:2-3 : "The lioness hath brought up one of her whelps; it became a chephir; it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men." See   Psalms 91:13;  Proverbs 19:12 .

3. ארי , a grown and vigorous lion, having whelps, eager in pursuit of prey for them,  Nahum 2:12; valiant,  2 Samuel 17:10; arrogantly opposing himself,  Numbers 23:24 . This is, indeed, the general name, and occurs frequently.

4. שחל one in the full strength of his age; a black lion,  Job 4:10;  Job 10:16;  Psalms 91:13;  Proverbs 26:13;  Hosea 5:14;  Hosea 13:7 .

5. ליש , a fierce or enraged lion,  Job 4:11;  Proverbs 30:30;  Isaiah 25:6 . A regard to these characteristics and distinctions is very important for illustrating the passages of Scripture where the animal is spoken of, and discovering the propriety of the allusions and metaphors which he so often furnishes to the Hebrew poets. The lion of the tribe of Judah, mentioned  Revelation 5:5 , is Jesus Christ, who sprung from the tribe of Judah, and overcame death, the world, and the devil. The lion from the swelling of Jordan,  Jeremiah 50:44 , is Nebuchadnezzar marching against Judea, with the strength and fierceness of a lion. Isaiah, describing the happy time of the Messiah, says, that then the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling should lie down together; and that a little child should lead them; and that the lion should eat straw like the ox,  Isaiah 11:6-7 , which is hyberbolical, and signifies the peace and happiness which the church of Christ should enjoy. "The lion hath roared, and who shall not fear?"  Amos 3:8 . "The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion. Who provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul,"  Proverbs 19:12;  Proverbs 20:2; that is, he seeketh his own death. Solomon says, "A living dog is better than a dead lion,"  Ecclesiastes 10:4; showing that death renders those contemptible who otherwise are the greatest, most powerful, and most terrible.

"Then went Samson down, and, behold, a young lion roared against him, and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand,"  Judges 14:5-6 . An instance in quite modern times of an unarmed man attempting to combat a lion is related by Poiret: "In a douar, or a camp of Bedouin Arabs, near La Calle, a French factory, a young lion had seized a cow. A young Moor threw himself upon the savage beast, to tear his booty from him, and as at were to stifle him in his arms, but he would not let go his prey. The father of the young man hastened to him, armed with a kind of hoe; and aiming at the lion, struck his son's hand, and cut off three of his fingers. It cost a great deal of trouble to rescue the prey from the lion. I

saw this young man, who was attended by Mr. Gay, at that time surgeon to the hospital of La Calle." David, according to  1 Samuel 17:34 , had, when a shepherd, once fought with a lion, and another time with a bear, and rescued their prey from them. Tellez relates, that an Abyssinian shepherd had once killed a lion of extraordinary size with only two poles. "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong,"  Jeremiah 49:19 . The comparison used by the prophet in these words will be perfectly understood by the account which Mr. Maundrell gives of the river Jordan: "After having descended," says he, "the outermost bank of Jordan, you go about a furlong upon a level strand, before you come to the immediate bank of the river. This second bank is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisks, willows, oleanders, &c, that you can see no water till you have made your way through them. In this thicket anciently, and the same is reported of it at this day, several sorts of wild beasts were wont to harbour themselves, whose being washed out of the covert by the over-flowings of the river gave occasion to that allusion: ‘He shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan.'"

"He shall be cast into the den of lions,"  Daniel 6:7 . "In Morocco," says Host, "the king has a lions' den, into which men, particularly Jews, are sometimes thrown; but the latter generally come off unhurt; because the keepers of these animals are Jews, who may safely be with them, with a rod in the hand, if they only take care to go out backward, as the lion does not suffer any one to turn his back upon him. The other Jews do not let their brethren remain longer than a night among the lions, as they might otherwise become too hungry; but ransom them with money, which is, in fact, the king's object." In another place in the same work we find the following description of the construction of this lions' den: "At one end of the royal palace there is a place for ostriches and their young; and beyond the other end, toward the mountains, there is a large lions' den, which consists of a large square hole in the ground, with a partition, in the middle of which there is a door, which the Jews, who are obliged to maintain and keep them for nothing, are able to open and shut from above, and can thus entice the lions, by means of the food, from one division to the other, to clean the other in the mean time. It is all in the open air, and a person may look down over a wall, which is a yard and a quarter high."

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

'Ariy , 'Arieh ("the bearer," Umbreit); Guwr , "the whelp" ( Genesis 49:9); Kephir , "the young lion" in adolescent vigour, his "great teeth" grown ( Psalms 58:6), having his own covert ( Jeremiah 25:38); Labiy , in adult maturity ( Genesis 49:9); Libyah , "lioness"; La'Ish , "an old (rather strong, from an Arabic root) lion":  Job 4:11, where the five different terms occur; Shachal is "the roaring lion"; Labiy appears in the German Lowe . The variety of names shows the abundance of lions in the regions of Scripture at that time. Now there are none in Palestine. But the names Lebaoth ( Joshua 15:32), Arieh ( 2 Kings 15:25), Ariel for Jerusalem ( Isaiah 29:1-2;  Isaiah 29:7), Laish ( Judges 18:7), incidentally, and so undesignedly, confirm the Scripture assertions as to their former existence.

The forests and tangled thickets have been almost swept away which were their former lair. Jordan's wooded banks, its "pride" (as some translated, but others "swelling"), gave cover to lions ( Jeremiah 49:19), "a lion from the swelling (so Calvin, the overflow forcing the lion from the woody banks) of Jordan." The Asiatic lion has a short curly mane, and is shorter and rounder than the African. It laid waste villages ( 2 Kings 17:25-26;  Proverbs 22:13) and slew men ( 1 Kings 13:24;  1 Kings 20:35-36). Shepherds, as David, sometimes singly encountered it, and prevailed ( 1 Samuel 17:34-35;  Amos 3:12); oftener in bands, frightening him with shouts into a pit covered over with reed or branches lightly, to entrap it ( Ezekiel 19:4;  Ezekiel 19:8-9). Benaiah slew one in a pit or cistern, in which it had taken refuge in a snowstorm ( 2 Samuel 23:20).

Samson slew one at Timnath ( Judges 14:5-6). Lion hunting is depicted as the amusement of the Ninevite kings, who followed the great hunter Nimrod's example. Captured lions were caged, which illustrates the image in  Ezekiel 19:9. The lion symbolizes bravery, so the faces of the warriors of Gad who joined David are designated "the faces of lions" ( 1 Chronicles 12:8); also might and royalty, as in the winged lion figures with human heads in the Assyrian palace remains, and in Solomon's steps to his throne ( 1 Kings 10:19-20); so the royal tribe Judah had the lion as its standard. Messiah is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David," yet also the Lamb, combining opposites. The first of the four living creatures was like a lion ( Revelation 4:7, compare  Ezekiel 1:10), the kingly aspect of Messiah in Matthew.

Nineveh is compared to a lion's den, full of remains of its prey, appropriately, as lion figures abounded in the Assyrian palaces,  Nahum 2:11-12, "where is," etc.? i.e. God will so destroy it that its site will be hard to find; fulfilled to the letter ( Nahum 1:8). Lions haunted dens in Lebanon and Hermon ( Song of Solomon 4:8). Balaam compares Israel to "a great lion ( Labiy ) and a young lion" ( 'Arieh ):  Numbers 23:24;  Numbers 24:9.  Amos 3:4, "will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey?" i.e., God would not threaten wrath if there were not; a guilty nation, its object ( Matthew 24:28); "will a young lion cry out of his den if he (the old lion) have taken nothing?" The young lion lies silent until the parent lion brings the prey near, then the scent rouses him; so the prophet would not speak against Israel if God did not reveal to him Israel's sin requiring Israel's punishment.

Satan is the "roaring lion" as well as the subtle serpent ( 1 Peter 5:8). Sha'Ag is the lion's roar in seeking prey ( Psalms 104:21); Naham his cry when seizing it ( Isaiah 5:29, compare  Proverbs 19:12); Hagah his growl defying any effort to snatch from him his prey ( Isaiah 31:4); Na'Ar the cry of the young lion ( Jeremiah 51:38); Rabats is his crouching in his lair ( Genesis 49:10); Shacah and Yashab ( Job 38:40) his lying in wait; 'Arab his secretly doing so ( Psalms 10:9); Ramas his stealthily creeping after prey ( Psalms 104:20); Zinneq his leap, flinging himself on it ( Deuteronomy 33:22) (Smith's Bible Dictionary).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [3]

With the possible exception of  1 Peter 5:8, the use of ‘lion’ in the NT from 2 Tim. onwards is dependent on the OT. An animal of great size and strength, of noble bearing as well as of extreme cruelty, he is a fitting symbol for moral and spiritual reference.

1. In  1 Peter 5:8, man’s adversary, the devil, is represented as always roaming about in search of prey, his very raging, which betrays his ravenous hunger, striking terror into the hearts of all.

2. In  Hebrews 11:33, the reference is to the actual wild beast. Among the heroic deeds of the worthies of the OT recounted by the author of the Epistle is that they ‘stopped the mouths of lions’ (cf. Samson,  Judges 14:5-6; David,  1 Samuel 17:34-36; Benaiah,  2 Samuel 23:20). More remotely the story of Daniel suggests this mighty achievement, yet here God and not Daniel is said to have shut the lions’ mouths ( Daniel 6:22).

3 . St. Paul declares that he had ‘escaped the mouth of the lion’ ( 2 Timothy 4:17; cf.  Psalms 22:21,  1 Maccabees 2:60). The allusion of the Apostle is to the punishment of being thrown to the lions. Some have indeed permitted a literal interpretation of ‘lion’ (A. Neander, History of the Planting and Training of the Christian Church , Eng. translation, i. [1880] 345). Since, however, he was a Roman citizen and could claim the right of being beheaded (see Beast), the more probable explanation is that the reference is not to an actual lion. Concerning this, various conjectures have been advanced. ‘Lion’ has been interpreted as Nero (Chrysostom); calamity, which would result from cowardice and humiliation (N. J. D. White, in Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘1 and 2 Timothy and Titus,’ 1910, p. 182; cf. Ps 21:22, 23 [Septuagint]); ‘the immediate peril’ (Conybeare-Howson, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul , new ed., 1877, ii. 593), although the reference may be to St. Paul’s having established his right as a Roman citizen not to be exposed to the wild beasts. If, however, the reference is to the lion’s mouth, then Satan may be intended as a devouring adversary (cf.  1 Peter 5:8, above), from which St. Paul had escaped. The time, place, and occasion of this reference have been variously conceived, ( a )  2 Timothy 4:9;  2 Timothy 4:11-18;  2 Timothy 4:20-21 is a fragment, written from Caesarea, inserted in the Epistle, alluding to his address before the Sanhedrin (cf.  Acts 22:30;  Acts 23:11; B. W. Bacon, The Story of St. Paul , 1905, p. 198ff.). ( b ) Writing from Rome in his first imprisonment, he says that, although the result of the preliminary hearing was a suspension of judgment, yet he had expectation that he would escape a final condemnation, and that too in the immediate future (A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age , 1897, p. 421). Writing from Rome in his second imprisonment, St. Paul says that at the close of his first imprisonment his pleading was so cogent and convincing that he was set at liberty (Eusebius, HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).]ii. 22, 1 Clem. 5; cf. T. Zahn, Introd. to the NT , Eng. translation, 1909, i. 441, ii. 1ff.). ( c ) After his arrival in Rome the second time, the preliminary investigation had resulted in his remand; but the completion of the trial would not eventuate so favourably (Conybeare-Howson, op. cit. ch. xxvi.; N. J. D. White, op. cit. 181ff.).

4 . In the Apocalypse (5:5) the Exalted Christ is presented under the guise of a lion, where the undoubted reference is to  Genesis 49:9. He, who had overcome through death and the Resurrection, who had thus opened a way to God’s sovereignty over men, and is therefore alone able to loose the seals of the Divine judgment, i.e. to carry history forward to its consummation, is symbolized by a being of the highest prowess and strength. Yet no sooner has this suggestion of overmastering might become effective than it is withdrawn to give place to another-its exact opposite-that of a lamb as though slain, a symbol of sacrifice and humiliation (see Lamb).

5 . The same intimation of majesty and strength occurs in  Revelation 4:7, where the Seer is taken up into heaven, and beholds the four and twenty elders about the throne, with the four living creatures, having the likeness respectively of a lion, a calf, the face of a man, and a flying eagle (cf.  Ezekiel 1:5 ff. [esp.  Ezekiel 1:10]  Ezekiel 10:14; also  Isaiah 6:1 ff.).

6 . The remaining references in the Apocalypse revert to the terrorizing aspect of this king of beasts ( Revelation 9:8 [cf.  Joel 1:6]  Revelation 9:17,  Revelation 10:3 [cf.  Isaiah 5:29]  Revelation 13:2 [cf.  Daniel 7:4 ff.]).

C. A. Beckwith.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

Although most Hebrew and Greek words for lion are used in a figurative sense, nevertheless we can draw a number of inferences regarding the perceived characteristics and behavior of literal lions. They are, among other things, strong ( Proverbs 30:30 ), especially in their teeth ( Job 4:10 ) and paws ( 1 Samuel 17:37 ), fearless ( Proverbs 28:1;  30:30 ), stealthy ( Psalm 17:12 ), frightening ( Ezra 19:7;  Hosea 11:10;  Amos 3:8 ), destructive ( 1 Samuel 17:34;  Micah 5:8 ), and territorially protective ( Isaiah 31:4 ). Yet for all its seeming autonomy, the lion is ultimately dependent on God ( Job 38:39-40;  Psalm 104:21 ), answerable to him ( Job 4:10 ), and subdued in the millennial age ( Isaiah 11:6-7 ).

The many notable qualities of the lion are often applied figuratively in a variety of ways to individuals and nations. The king is frightening in his anger ( Proverbs 19:12;  20:2 ), the soldier courageous ( 2 Samuel 17:10 ), national leaders vicious ( Ezekiel 22:25;  Zephaniah 3:3 ), enemy nations destructive ( Isaiah 5:29;  Jeremiah 2:15 ) and protective of their conquests ( Isaiah 5:29 ), and personal enemies stealthy in their pursuit to harm ( Psalm 10:9;  17:12 ).

God is described with a number of leonine features. He is strong ( Isaiah 38:13 ), fearless in protecting his own ( Isaiah 31:4 ), stealthy in coming upon his prey ( Jeremiah 49:19;  Hosea 13:7 ), frightening ( Hosea 11:10;  Amos 3:8 ), and destructive ( Jeremiah 25:38;  Lamentations 3:10;  Hosea 5:14;  13:8 ). In  Amos 3:8 "The Lion" even appears as a title for God.

The idea of a Lion of the Tribe of Judah is problematic because the fundamental passage ( Revelation 5:5 ) is grammatically ambiguous and because there is no exact antecedent parallel. First, it is unclear whether in  Revelation 5:5 we have one title of Christ (Lion of the Tribe of Judah) or two titles standing in apposition (The Lion; The One of the Tribe of Judah). Second, the alleged parallels are only approximate parallels. In   Genesis 49:9 there is no lion of Judah; rather, Judah is a lion. In 2 (4) Esdras 11:37; 12:1,31 the Messiah is pictured as a lion, but not specifically of Judah. In the Testament of Judah 24:5 the Messiah is from Judah but not specifically as a lion. Given the imprecision in the alleged parallels, the cautious interpreter would not make much of the tradition that combines "lion" and "of the Tribe of Judah" into one idea, but rather would understand Jesus the Lamb to be called Messiah under two images derived from separate traditions.

Finally, the lion figure is expansive enough in its manifold facets to suggest its application to Satan. Such meaning is possible in  2 Timothy 4:17 , but  1 Peter 5:8 is its classic occurrence. Here Satan is portrayed as both frightening his prey and silently stalking it to devour it. This devouring is best seen as potentially successful and as consisting of physical death. Therefore, professing believers should not lose faith, even in the face of the devil's most relentless pressures to give up.

David K. Huttar

See also God; Messiah; Satan

Bibliography . G. J. Botterweck, TDOT, 1:374-88; R. K. Harrison, ISBE, 3:141-42; W. Michaelis, TDNT, 4:251-53; J. R. Michaels, I Peter .

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

This animal is used as a figure or a type of power, sagacity, strength, wrath and ability. Sometimes the lion represents Christ Jesus Sometimes it represents Satan. It always represents tremendous power and strength.

 Genesis 49:9 (b) Emblematic of the power, strength and cunning of Judah for GOD because he came from GOD. The "lion" refers to GOD. Judah as the whelp is the offspring.

 Judges 14:8 (c) This is sometimes taken as a type of Christ Out of His death comes the sweetness of GOD's grace, and the blessings of salvation.

 2 Samuel 17:10 (b) This is the estimate of David's power and boldness as given by Hushai. He uses this figure to describe the mighty fighting power of David.

 1 Kings 7:29 (c) These figures represent various aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ They are to be seen in connection with the character of CHRIST, both in Ezekiel and in the Revelation. Over the grave of Bobby Burns in the castle at Dumfernlin in Scotland there is a wooden canopy upheld by four posts. On the top of these posts there appear the four figures which Solomon mentions and which are also mentioned in Ezekiel - the lion, the ox, the man, the eagle. These indicate the four great attributes and characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ

 1 Chronicles 11:22 (c) This may be used as a type of Satan. Though every condition was favorable to the lion, this bold servant of David took his life in his hand and killed the beast. So our Saviour with everything against Him overcame Satan at Calvary when it seemed as though He could not possibly come out of the conflict a victor.

 1 Chronicles 12:8 (a) The face of the lion is under perfect control of the spirit of the lion. No one can tell the feelings of the lion by observing the face. Even when ready to attack, the face remains placid and calm. This figure used in connection with the Gadites indicates that these were men of might as the lion, men of fight as a lion, men of flight as a lion, and always with perfect control of their actions and their feelings.

 Psalm 22:13 (a) The maddening throng around the Cross resembled lions in their hatred, their vociferous shouts and their anger against the Son of GOD.

 Psalm 35:17 (b) This is a cry of the Lord Jesus for GOD to preserve Him from the fierce attacks of the enemies around Him.

 Ecclesiastes 9:4 (b) This is a very graphic way of telling us that a great and mighty powerful man is of no value when dead. Nero, Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler have lost their power. The least of all living persons is better than the greatest of dead conquerors.

 Jeremiah 12:8 (a) This represents GOD's own people who should have been of the sheep of His pasture, but instead turned against Him in hatred and rebellion.

 Ezekiel 1:10 (b) This is one of the types of the Lord JESUS in which His great strength, power, majesty and sovereignty are represented. (See also  Revelation 4:7 and  Revelation 5:5).

 Ezekiel 19:2 (a) The nation of Israel was compared to this animal. The leaders represent the parent animals. Their offspring are the cubs, but all of them are fierce and cruel in their attitude toward GOD and His prophet.

 1 Peter 5:8 (a) Satan is thus described. This animal cannot be tamed to become a servant of man. Its nature cannot be changed. It is never constructive, but always destructive in all its actions. It is never a friend of man, but always his enemy. He is said to be roaring because he is always hunting up victims. The lion roars only when it is hungry. Satan is never satisfied. He is always in the business of devouring and destroying and is never a blessing to men.

 Revelation 5:5 (a) Christ Jesus is the King of kings as the lion is the king of beasts. He is unconquerable and unavoidable. He cannot be defeated. He is afraid of no enemy. He cannot be hindered by any circumstances. He is always able to do whatever needs to be done for the glory of GOD and the blessing of men.

 Revelation 13:2 (b) This animal reveals the terrible power the antichrist will have to tear, destroy and hurt GOD's people and all who will not bow to his sovereign sway.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

We meet with many passages in Scripture concerning the lion. This beast was very common in Palestine, and hence, in the sacred writings, frequent allusion is made to the lion by way of similitude and figure. It would have been unnecessary, in a work of this kind, to have noticed the lion, had it not been that the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of under this title, as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." The comparative view of  Genesis 49:9 with  Revelation 5:5 will serve to explain. The dying patriarch blessing the tribe of Judah, and holding forth his prophetic sayings with an eye to Christ, describes our glorious Judah, or Jehudah, under this strong figure—his hand was to be "in the neck of his enemies;" meaning that he would totally destroy them from the head to the feet. And all his father's children were "to bow down before him." It is the distinguishing feature of Jesus, that while bringing hell and all his foes under his feet, his redeemed bend in holy adoration, and love, and praise before him. "He is the praise of all his saints." ( Psalms 148:14) There is a great beauty in the figures Jacob makes use of concerning Christ. Not content with simply speaking of him as a lion, which includes every thing in the similitude, that is royal, courageous, terrible, and full of dignity and majesty, Jacob particularizes the figure under the several characters of the lion, and the lion's whelp, and the old lion. "Judah (said he) is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion, who shall rouse, him up?" It is said of the lion, that both in his rampant state, when couching, he is equally formidable; when seizing his prey, or when consuming it, none dare to follow or oppose.

We should not have understood the beauty of those similitudes in reference to Christ, had not the sacred writers been so very particular: But it is remarkable, how many and various the names the Hebrews adopted to describe the different characters of the lion by. We find, as here by Jacob, they had names for the lion's whelp, and the young lion, and the old, and the lion from "the swellings of Jordan," ( Jeremiah 50:44) and the lion like men of Moab. ( 2 Samuel 23:20) Frequent expressions we find of the kind by say of allusion in the Scriptures. What a sweet consoling thought to the believer travelling through this waste and howling wilderness, that our Jesus is the sovereign of all, and the ruler over all. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah" is gone up from the prey, and he alone hath power to kill and to save.

The Scriptures speak of the old serpent the devil under this character, as "a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour." ( 1 Peter 5:8) But while we behold the almighty Lord Jesus in his victories having subdued our foe, we have nothing to fear, but to resist him stedfast in the faith, and sure we are "to overcome by the blood of the Lamb," as all have done before. (See  Revelation 12:10-11)

If I might be permitted under this article to offer one observation more, it should be to say, what a mercy it is for us that this apostate Spirit which scours through the earth, and the Prince of the power of the air, and now worketh, as we are told he doth, in the children of disobedience, is invisible. The sight of such an enemy would freeze our very nature. The common lions and beasts of the forest, would shrink with terror from the view. How happy ought the people of God to consider themselves, that though so near them in his devilish devices, yet he dare not become visible; and though he is so busy in the cruelties of his temptations, yet his power is limited. When I hear or see some awful effects of his devices, on the minds of my fellow creatures and fellow sinners; oh! how powerfully doth it teach me the blessed consequences of distinguishing grace! Doth he work his devilish purposes on others, and am I preserved from his snare? Doth he accomplish their destruction, and do I escape? Reader! think of this precious subject! How doth it exalt my Lord in the consciousness of preserving grace! And how doth it tend to humble my soul!'

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]


(1) ’ări, ’aryeh , full-grown lion (  Genesis 49:9 ,   Judges 14:8;   Judges 14:2 etc.).

(2) kÄ•phîr , a young strong lion (  Judges 14:6 ,   Job 4:10 ,   Ezekiel 19:2 etc.).

(3) lâbî (cf. Arab [Note: Arabic.] , labwah ), specially lioness (  Genesis 49:9 ,   Numbers 23:24 ,   Job 4:11 etc.); and lÄ•bîyyah (  Ezekiel 19:2 ).

(4) layîsh , particularly in poetry (  Job 4:11 ,   Proverbs 30:30 ,   Isaiah 30:6 etc.).

(5) shachal , poetically, lit. ‘the roarer’ (  Job 4:10;   Job 10:18;   Job 28:8 ,   Hosea 5:14 ,   Psalms 91:13 ).

(6) benç-shachats is tr. [Note: translate or translation.] in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of   Job 28:8 ‘lion s whelps,’ but ought to be, as in RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] , ‘sons of pride.’

Lions have been extinct in Palestine since the time of the Crusades, but evidently were once plentiful, especially in the thickets along the Jordan ( Jeremiah 49:19;   Jeremiah 50:44 ,   Zechariah 11:3 ). They were a source of danger to men (  1 Kings 13:24 f.,   1 Kings 20:35 ,   2 Kings 17:25 ), and especially to shepherds’ flocks (  1 Samuel 17:34 ,   Isaiah 31:4 ,   Amos 3:12 ,   Micah 5:8 ). The terrifying roar of the lion is referred to in   Proverbs 19:12;   Proverbs 20:2 etc., and it is compared to the voice of God (  Jeremiah 25:30 ,   Joel 3:16 ,   Amos 3:8 ). Metaphorically, Judah is described as a lion in   Genesis 49:9 , Dan in   Deuteronomy 33:22 , and Israel in   Numbers 23:24;   Numbers 24:9; but in the NT the lion is usually typical of Satan (  1 Peter 5:8; ct. [Note: t. contrast.] ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah ,’   Revelation 5:5 ).

E. W. G. Masterman.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [8]

1: Λέων (Strong'S #3023 — Noun Masculine — leon — leh-ohn' )

occurs in  2—Timothy 4:17 , probably figurative of the imminent peril of death, the figure being represented by the whole phrase, not by the word "lion" alone; some suppose the reference to be to the lions of the amphitheater; the Greek commentators regarded the "lion" as Nero; others understand it to be Satan. The language not improbably recalls that of  Psalm 22:21;  Daniel 6:20 . The word is used metaphorically, too, in  Revelation 5:5 , where Christ is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." Elsewhere it has the literal meaning,  Hebrews 11:33;  1—Peter 5:8;  Revelation 4:7;  9:8,17;  10:3;  13:2 . Taking the OT and NT occurrences the allusions are to the three great features of the "lion," (1) its majesty and strength, indicative of royalty, e.g.,  Proverbs 30:30 , (2) its courage, e.g.,  Proverbs 28:1 , (3) its cruelty, e.g.,  Psalm 22:13 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Lion. Lions do not now exist in Palestine; but they must in ancient times have been numerous there. The names Lebaoth,  Joshua 15:32;  Joshua 19:6; Laish,  Judges 18:7;  1 Samuel 25:44, indicate the presence of the lion in those regions. The lion of Palestine was in all probability the Asiatic variety, described by Aristotle and Pliny as distinguished by its short curly mane, and by being shorter and rounder in shape, like the sculptured lion found at Arban. When driven by hunger it not only ventured to attack the flocks in the desert in presence of the shepherd,  1 Samuel 17:34;  Isaiah 31:4, but laid waste towns and villages,  2 Kings 17:25-26;  Proverbs 22:13;  Proverbs 26:13, and devoured men.  1 Kings 13:24;  1 Kings 20:36. Among the Hebrews, and throughout the Old Testament, the lion was the symbol of the princely tribe of Judah, while in the closing book of the Bible it received a deeper significance as the emblem of him who "prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."  Revelation 5:5. On the other hand its fierceness and cruelty rendered it an appropriate metaphor for a fierce and malignant enemy,  Psalms 7:2;  Psalms 22:21;  Psalms 57:4;  2 Timothy 4:17, and hence for the archfiend himself,  1 Peter 5:8.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

Lion. "The most powerful, daring and impressive of all carnivorous animals, the most magnificent in aspect and awful in voice." At present, lions do not exist in Palestine; but they must, in ancient times, have been numerous.

The lion of Palestine was in all probability the Asiatic variety, described by Aristotle and Pliny as distinguished by its short and curly mane, and by being shorter and rounder in shape, like the sculptured lion found at Arban. It was less daring than the longer maned species, but when driven by hunger, it not only ventured to attack the flocks in the desert in presence of the shepherd,  1 Samuel 17:34;  Isaiah 31:4, but laid waste to towns and villages,  2 Kings 17:25-26;  Proverbs 22:13;  Proverbs 26:13, and devoured men.  1 Kings 13:24;  1 Kings 20:36.

Among the Hebrews, and throughout the Old Testament, the lion was the achievement of the princely tribe of Judah, while, in the closing book of the canon, it received a deeper significance as the emblem of him who "prevailed to open the book and loose the seven seals thereof."  Revelation 5:5. On the other hand, its fierceness and cruelty rendered it an appropriate metaphor for a fierce and malignant enemy,  Psalms 7:2;  Psalms 22:21;  Psalms 57:4;  2 Timothy 4:17, and hence, for the arch-fiend himself.  1 Peter 5:8.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

The well-known and noble king of beasts, frequently spoken of in Scripture. He often exceeds eight feet in length and four feet in height; and his majestic and dauntless aspect, his prodigious strength and agility, and his peculiar roar, make him the terror of the forests. Lions were common in Palestine, (See  Job 4:10,11 . See also  Nahum 2:11,12 . The psalmist alludes to the stealthy creeping of the lion till he can spring upon his prey, when he says of the crafty wicked man, "He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den; .... he croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones." The Bible reader will remember the exploits of Samson and of David,  Judges 14:5,6   1 Samuel 17:34-36 , the story of the disobedient prophet slain by a lion,  1 Kings 13:28 , and of the obedient Daniel, safe in the lion's den,  Daniel 6:1-28; also the sublime image of Jehovah's care for his people, in  Isaiah 31:4 .

"The Lion of the tribe of Judah,"  Revelation 5:5 , is Jesus Christ, who sprung from the tribe of Judah and the race of David, and overcame death, the world, and the devil. It is supposed that a lion was the device of the tribe of Judah; whence this allusion,  Genesis 49:9 .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [12]

'Ărı̂y ( אַרְיֵה , Strong'S #738), “lion.” This apparently Aramaic loan word finds a cognate only in Aramaic. Occurring in all periods of biblical Hebrew, it is attested 83 times. The word represents a “full-grown lion.”

This word should be compared to: (1) gur (Gen. 49:9), a suckling lion; (2) shachal (Hos. 5:14), a young lion which no longer is a suckling; and (3) kepir (Judg. 14:5), a young lion which no longer is a suckling and which hunts for its food independently.

The “lion” was a much-feared beast (Amos 3:12) found mostly in the Trans-jordan (Jer. 49:19) and in the mountainous areas (Song of Sol. 4:8). The various characteristics of the “lion” make it a frequent figure of strength and power (Judg. 14:18), of plundering (Gen. 49:9), and of malicious scheming (Ps. 10:9).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [13]

There are several Hebrew words translated 'lion,' the principal of which is ari, from 'to tear.' The lion is declared to be the "strongest among beasts and turneth not away for any."  Proverbs 30:30 . This shows that the lion may be taken as a symbol of 'strength,' and as such the Lord is called the lion of the tribe of Judah, to which is attached the symbol of royalty, for Judah held the sceptre.  Genesis 49:9,10;  Revelation 5:5 . Satan also has a kingdom and is called a strong one,  Matthew 12:26; and he is the 'lion' seeking whom he may devour. He is compared to a 'roaring lion,' because he is like that animal, which roars when it is sure of its prey: cf.  Amos 3:4 . The Lord knows how to deliver His servants even out of the mouth of the lion.

Webster's Dictionary [14]

(1): ( n.) A large carnivorous feline mammal (Felis leo), found in Southern Asia and in most parts of Africa, distinct varieties occurring in the different countries. The adult male, in most varieties, has a thick mane of long shaggy hair that adds to his apparent size, which is less than that of the largest tigers. The length, however, is sometimes eleven feet to the base of the tail. The color is a tawny yellow or yellowish brown; the mane is darker, and the terminal tuft of the tail is black. In one variety, called the maneless lion, the male has only a slight mane.

(2): ( n.) An object of interest and curiosity, especially a person who is so regarded; as, he was quite a lion in London at that time.

(3): ( n.) A sign and a constellation; Leo.

King James Dictionary [15]

LI'ON, n. L. leo, leonis, Gr.

1. A quadruped of the genus Felis, very strong, fierce and rapacious. The largest lions are eight or nine feet in length. The male has a thick head, beset with long bushy hair of a yellowish color. The lion is a native of Africa and the warm climates of Asia. His aspect is noble, his gait stately, and his roar tremendous. 2. A sign in the zodiac.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]


1. Names:

(1) Occurring most often in the Old Testament is אריה , 'aryēh , plural אריות , 'ărāyōth . Another form, ארי , 'ărı̄ , plural אריים , 'ărāyı̄m , is found less often. Compare אריאל , 'ărı̄'ēl , "Ariel" (  Ezra 8:16;  Isaiah 29:1 ,  Isaiah 29:2 ,  Isaiah 29:7 ); חראל , ḥar'ēl , "upper altar," and אראיל , 'ări'ēl , "altar hearth" ( Ezekiel 43:15 ); אריה , 'aryēh , "Arieh" ( 2 Kings 15:25 ); אראלי , 'ar'ēlı̄ , "Areli" and "Arelites" ( Genesis 46:16;  Numbers 26:17 ). (2) כּפיר , kephı̄r , "young lion," often translated "lion" ( Psalm 35:17;  Proverbs 19:12;  Proverbs 23:1 , etc.). (3) שׁהל , shaḥal , translated "fierce lion" or "lion" ( Job 4:10;  Job 10:16;  Job 28:8;  Hosea 5:14 ). (4) לישׁ , layish , translated "old lion" or "lion" ( Job 4:11;  Proverbs 30:30;  Isaiah 30:6 ). Compare Arabic laith , "lion": לישׁ , layish , "Laish," or "Leshem" ( Joshua 19:47;  Judges 18:7 ,  Judges 18:14 ,  Judges 18:27 ,  Judges 18:29 ); לישׁ , layish , "Laish" ( 1 Samuel 25:44;  2 Samuel 3:15 ). (5) לבי , lebhı̄ , plural לבאים , lebhā'ı̄m , "lioness"; also לביא , lābhı̄' , and לביּא , lebhı̄yā' ( Genesis 49:9;  Numbers 23:24;  Numbers 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) גּוּר , gūr , גּור , gōr , "whelp," with 'aryēh or a pronoun, e.g. "Judah is a lion's whelp," gūr 'ăryēh ( Genesis 49:9 ); "young ones" of the jackal ( Lamentations 4:3 ). Also לביא בּני , benē lābhı̄' , "whelps (sons) of the lioness" ( Job 4:11 ); and אריות כּפיר , kephı̄r 'ărāyōth , "young lion," literally, "the young of lions" ( Judges 14:5 ). In  Job 28:8 , the King James Version has "lion's whelps" for שׁחץ בּני , benē shaḥac , the Revised Version (British and American) "proud beasts." the Revised Version margin "sons of pride"; compare  Job 41:34 (Hebrew 26). (7) λέων , léōn , "lion" ( 2 Timothy 4:17;  Hebrews 11:33;  1 Peter 5:8;  Revelation 4:7;  Revelation 5:5; The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17; Ecclesiasticus 4:30; 13:19; Bel and the Dragon 31, 32, 34). (8) σκύμνος , skúmnos , "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 ( Psalm 7:2 ), and stealth ( Psalm 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 ( Psalm 91:13;  Isaiah 11:6-8;  Isaiah 65:25 ). The roaring of the lion is often mentioned ( Job 4:10;  Psalm 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 Dan ( 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 ( Psalm 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 ,  1 Kings 7:36;  1 Kings 10:19 f).

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 f); 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 'aryēh or 'ărı̄ .

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 lābhı̄' . 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 ,  Job 4:11 :

"The roaring of the lion ( 'aryēh ), and the voice of the fierce lion ( shaḥal ),

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

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

And the whelps of the lioness ( benē lābhı̄' ) are scattered abroad."

In  Judges 14:5-18 , no less than three different terms, kephı̄r 'ărāyōth , 'aryēh , and 'ărı̄ , are used of Samson's lion.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lion'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.