The “horns of the wild oxen”

Many Bible stories find their setting, and draw illustrations, based on the land where the writers lived.

David draws on the land when he prophesies the execution of the Messiah (Psalm 22). In one plea he says,

Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! (Psalm 22:21 ESV)

The term wild oxen in this text comes from the Hebrew word reem. The photo below shows the Arabian Oryx, thought to be the reem of the Hebrew Bible. The King James Version used the word unicorn to translate reem, but modern English versions typically translate it with “wild ox” (Psalm 22:21; Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17, et al.).

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve near Eilat, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve near Eilat, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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