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Reference: Lions


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 (Jer 5:6; 12:8; Am 3:4), in the caves of the mountains (Song 4:8; Na 2:12), and in the canebrakes on the banks of the Jordan (Jer 49:19; 50:44; Zec 11:3).

No fewer than at least six different words are used in the Old Testament for the lion. (1.) Gor (i.e., a "suckling"), the lion's whelp (Ge 49:9; Jer 51:38, etc.). (2.) Kephir (i.e., "shaggy"), the young lion (Jg 14:5; Job 4:10; Ps 91:13; 104:21), a term which is also used figuratively of cruel enemies (Ps 34:10; 35:17; 58:6; Jer 2:15). (3.) 'Ari (i.e., the "puller" in pieces), denoting the lion in general, without reference to age or sex (Nu 23:24; 2Sa 17:10, etc.). (4.) Shahal (the "roarer"), the mature lion (Job 4:10; Ps 91:13; Pr 26:13; Ho 5:14). (5.) Laish, so called from its strength and bravery (Job 4:11; Pr 30:30; Isa 30:6). The capital of Northern Dan received its name from this word. (6.) Labi, from a root meaning "to roar," a grown lion or lioness (Ge 49:9; Nu 23:24; 24:9; Eze 19:2; Na 2:11).

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 (2Ki 17:25-26) and devoured men (1Ki 13:24-25). Shepherds sometimes, single-handed, encountered lions and slew them (1Sa 17:34-35; Am 3:12). Samson seized a young lion with his hands and "rent him as he would have rent a kid" (Jg 14:5-6). The strength (Jg 14:18), courage (2Sa 17:10), and ferocity (Ge 49:9) of the lion were proverbial.

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