Appendix 9: The Lion and the Unicorn
Britain’s heraldic imagery takes on great significance in light of the true biblical identity of the British people and their royal family. As our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy proves, the British-descended nations of the world are the recipients of the birthright blessings of national greatness promised to Jacob or Israel (see Genesis 35:11; 48–49; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).
Joseph’s eldest son Manasseh was to become a great single nation—and certainly has done so through his descendants, the majority of the people of the United States. Joseph’s younger son Ephraim, on the other hand, was to become even greater—a multiplicity of nations. This prophecy has been fulfilled through the British Empire and the multiple British-descended states of the Commonwealth that have followed. Indeed, Britain (Ephraim) in its heyday ruled over a greater percentage of the earth and its peoples than any nation in history. Ephraim, as the greater tribe, has been the foremost representative of Joseph. Indeed, while Manasseh is referred to by name in Revelation 7:6, in the same context Ephraim is actually called Joseph (verse 8).
Yet while the birthright blessings were promised to the descendants of Joseph, the line of kings leading to the ultimate King, Jesus the Messiah, went to the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). To Judah, as elsewhere explained, were born the twin sons Perez and Zerah. Though Perez was born first, Zerah’s hand had actually come out first and had been marked with a scarlet thread. Through Zerah came many of the royal lines of Europe—particularly those of the various tribes of Israel. Yet it was through Perez that the primary line of royalty would come—King David and later Jesus. Today’s British royal family is actually a union of the royal houses of David (of Perez) and Zerah.
Jacob and Moses both delivered prophecies from God about the future of the various tribes of Israel. It was primarily from the imagery in these prophecies that the tribal emblems of Israel were derived. These emblems would later be displayed on the standards or early flags of the tribes, mentioned in Numbers 2 (see also “Flag,” Jewish Encyclopedia).
With that in mind, notice what Moses said of Joseph: “His glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns [weapons] are like the horns of a wild ox” (Deuteronomy 33:17). Where the New King James Version has “a wild ox,” the earlier King James had “unicorns.” Certainly a bovine animal was intended—tying back to the “bull” in the earlier part of the verse.
Indeed, the medieval unicorn idea is believed by some to have been inspired by the Arabian oryx. Viewed from the side, particularly from a distance, these animals appear to have a single long horn. And sometimes they actually have only one. Consider also that unicorns, though portrayed with horse faces, have antelope hooves and long, lion-like tails—as oryx also have. The bull or unicorn thus became the symbol of Joseph—particularly of Ephraim.
Of Judah, God said through Jacob: “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah . . .” (Genesis 49:8-10). As is widely understood, the lion became the tribal emblem of Judah—and we see it here directly connected to kingship. This was fitting, of course, since the lion is known as the “king of beasts”—and from Judah was to come the king of Israel, David, and ultimately the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Jesus is even referred to as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Revelation 5:5).
Indeed, the lion, as the emblem of Judah, was the symbol of the house of David. Notice how David’s son Solomon utilized this imagery to represent the greatest dynasty on earth: “The king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne [and the top of the throne was round at the back]; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom” (2 Chronicles 9:17-19; insert from 1 Kings 10:18-20).
Amazingly, though the birthright blessings of power and greatness were to go to Joseph, these blessings would, as God foretold, eventually be made to serve the kingly line of Judah. For at the height of Ephraim’s (that is, Britain’s) power, Britain was subject to the royal line of David. Even a number of the presidents of the United States have come from that same lineage. No wonder, then, that God portrays Israel’s end-time national power in terms of a lion (Micah 5:8-9).
And notice this incredible prophecy of Israel that God caused the pagan prophet Balaam to utter: “God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee” (Numbers 24:8-9, KJV, emphasis added). Thus, we again see the lion and the unicorn—symbols of the scepter tribe of Judah and the birthright tribe of Joseph respectively. And the last sentence was a repetition of the birthright blessing given to Jacob (see Genesis 27:29).
Coat of arms of many colors
Now, where is all of this leading us? To the British royal coat of arms, in which all these and other symbols converge. In this blazon, the crest, which sits above the heraldic shield, consists of a helmet bearing the regal crown, atop which strides a crowned lion. Flanking the shield are the shield supporters—another lion along with a unicorn! The rampant lion (risen on one foot to strike), said to be the golden lion of England, has a crown upon its head while the rampant unicorn, a symbol from Scottish heraldry, has a lesser crown around its neck.
One source explains: “King James VI of Scotland succeeded Elizabeth I when she died childless in 1603, effectively uniting Scotland and England beneath one rule. The Scottish Royal Arms had up to that point used two unicorns as shield supporters. The English Arms had used a variety of supporters, but most frequently had included a lion. In a tactful gesture then, he placed a lion upon the left of the new Arms, and a unicorn upon the right.
“This was a potent bit of symbolism, for both the lion and the unicorn had long been thought to be deadly enemies: both regarded as king of the beasts, the unicorn rules through harmony while the lion rules through might, It came to symbolise a reconciliation between the Scottish unicorn and the English lion that the two should share the rule” (www.sterlingtimes.org/memorable_images14.htm).
Of course, it should be mentioned that the lion—the rampant red lion—was the primary symbol of Scotland. Certainly, none of this detracts from the likely biblical origins of these symbols. For Scotland and England are both Ephraim (represented by a bull or unicorn)—and are both ruled over by the Judahite house of David (represented by a lion).
Returning to the coat of arms, between the lion and unicorn is a garter around the central shield said to represent the Order of the Garter, an ancient order of knighthood of which the British monarch is sovereign. On the garter appear the Old French words, “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” which means, “Evil to him who thinks evil”—toward Britain that is. Is this not nearly the same as “cursed is he that curseth thee” in Numbers 24, a promise given in the same context as the lion and unicorn in Scripture? Surely this is no mere coincidence.
Beneath the shield and animals appears the motto of the sovereign, “Dieu et mon droit,” meaning, “God and my right,” that is, the right of kingly succession (as David’s line has by God’s promise) or right of birth—the birthright (of which Ephraim is the foremost recipient). This was the military password chosen by King Richard I in 1198, but its origins may go even further back. In any event, it would seem to be more than happenstance that such is the royal motto of Britain.
And there is more. Upon the shield of the arms appear the golden passant lions of England—passant meaning walking with farther forepaw raised. Actually, these lions are considered to be running across the shield in a crouched position—stalking prey and attacking. Says one source: “Lions have appeared in our Royal Arms since the introduction of Heraldry. It is said that Henry II’s arms originally consisted of two lions, and that he added a third on marriage [in 1152]” (Patrick Montague-Smith, The Royal Line of Succession, Pitkin, 1968, p. 2).
The two lions had been the emblem of William the Conqueror prior to 1066 (Jiri Louda and Michael Maclagan, Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe, 1981, p. 16). William was apparently of the Jewish line of Zerah (see Appendix 10: “The Family of Odin“), and may even have been of Davidic lineage (see Appendix 11: “Joseph of Arimathea and the Line of Nathan“). The two golden lions could perhaps be reminiscent of the gilded lions upon the sides of Solomon’s throne.
That brings up a related matter. When William’s descendant Edward I took the Stone of Destiny from Scotland in 1296, he “ordered his goldsmith to make a fair bronze chair to contain it . . . The coronation chair, which still stands in Westminster Abbey today, has been used in almost all English coronations since that of Edward II in 1307. We are told that it was made by Walter of Durham in 1299 . . . [who] was paid . . . for the carving and painting of two wooden leopards [“leo-pard” being the medieval term for a running as opposed to rampant lion]—kings of England during that period liked being shown with their feet resting on leopards [i.e., lions], perhaps to model their throne on descriptions of King Solomon’s which had ‘two lions standing by the stays’” (Pat Gerber, Stone of Destiny, 1997, p. 105).
But, it should be pointed out, “in spite of Edward Plantagenet’s original order for a bronze chair, none of the research so far carried out by historians and scientists has revealed a single trace of bronze in the chair . . . Indeed, recent research is suggesting strongly that in fact Edward’s men took the very chair [in Scotland] which contained the Stone, perhaps to be a model for the proposed bronze throne, and later, when it was safely at Westminster, had it gilded in the English fashion” (p. 106, 112). This means the lions of Edward’s chair were probably part of the throne design in Scotland—if not the very same lions.
Again, the lion was and remains the primary symbol of Scotland. The rampant red lion adorns the Scottish flag, and it too appears on the shield of the British royal coat of arms. Information about its origin has been passed down. It came with the transfer of the Davidic monarchy from Ireland to Scotland around A.D. 500: “How that Eastern Tropical Beast, a Lion, came to be the Blazon of a Country lying so far West as Scotland, and in the Icy North, the following extract from [Edmund] Campion’s Historie of Ireland , p. 32 in [Edmund] Spencer’s Publication [A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande, 1597], will declare:
“‘First therefore came from Ireland Fergusius, the Son of Ferchardus; a man very famous for his skill in blazoning of armes. Himselfe bore the Red Lyon, rampant in a Golden Field (John Major [Historia Majoris Britanniae, 1521], lib. 2, cap. 1). There was in Ireland a monument of marble [that is, of stone—the Stone of Destiny], fashioned like a throne; and . . . because he deemed the finding thereof to be ominous to some kingdome, he brought it along with him and layde it up in the country for a Jewell. This marble Fergusius obtained towards the prospering of his voyage, and in Scotland he left it, which they used many years after, in Coronation of their kings at Scone.’
“Thus, it will be seen, that the Lion of Scotland was, in reality, the Lion of Ireland: and, as the Lion is no more an Irish than a Scottish wild beast, it is evidently an importation to that Country from the East: further, as having been associated, as is seen above, by Fergus with the National and Family Stone, it is clear that he must have considered it equally as the Family and National Standard” (F.R.A. Glover, England, the Remnant of Judah, and the Israel of Ephraim, 1861).
Why a red lion? Again, Scotland’s monarchs originally came from Northern Ireland—that is, from Ulster, which also used the symbol of the Red Hand and the Red Branch. It is explained elsewhere in this publication that these likely originated with the descendants of Zerah, who was identified in Scripture by the scarlet cord upon his hand. Since the Zarhites were of the tribe of Judah, they would likely have used the lion emblem—but perhaps colored it red to represent the scarlet cord (the symbol of their denied primacy).
It is also interesting to consider that the top of the back of the British coronation chair looks like the top of a Star of David. Perhaps a fuller representation of the star actually appeared on the throne in Scotland. As mentioned elsewhere, the six-pointed Star of David was another symbol of Ulster, which still appears on the flag of Northern Ireland, the Red Hand displayed within it.
Returning once again to the British royal coat of arms, its shield does display a universally acknowledged symbol of Ireland—in fact, the national emblem of Ireland, which appears on the flag of the Republic of Ireland, the Irish harp. As also mentioned elsewhere, the astronomer Galileo’s father wrote a book in 1581 in which he explained that the Irish attachment to the harp was traced by the Irish themselves to their descent—or, rather, their ancient monarchy’s descent—from King David the harpist.
Thus, upon the British royal blazon appear to be the lion and crown of Judah, the harp of David, the golden lion of Solomon, the red lion of Zerah, the unicorn of Joseph, the promised blessing of enemies cursed, the birthright of Israel and acknowledgment of God as the one who has orchestrated it all. What incredible convergence in a single image! While these things don’t of and by themselves constitute proof of the biblical origin of the British people and their royal family, they certainly help to confirm what we have elsewhere proven to be the case. Certainly, Britain is Ephraim and the British royal family is of the Jewish royal line of Zerah in union with the royal house of David.