li'-un: (1) Occurring most often in the Old Testament is 'aryeh, plural 'ardyoth. Another form, 'ari, plural 'arayim, is found less often.
Compare 'ari'el, "Ariel" (Ezr 8:16; Isa 29:1-2,7); char'el, "upper altar," and 'ari'el, "altar hearth" (Eze 43:15); 'aryeh, "Arieh" (2Ki 15:25); 'ar'eli, "Areli" and "Arelites" (Ge 46:16; Nu 26:17). (2) kephir, "young lion," often translated "lion" (Ps 35:17; Pr 19:12; 23:1, etc.). (3) shachal, translated "fierce lion" or "lion" (Job 4:10; 10:16; 28:8; Ho 5:14). (4) layish, translated "old lion" or "lion" (Job 4:11; Pr 30:30; Isa 30:6).
Compare Arabic laith, "lion": layish, "Laish," or "Leshem" (Jos 19:47; Jg 18:7,14,27,29); layish, "Laish" (1Sa 25:44; 2Sa 3:15). (5) lebhi, plural lebha'im, "lioness"; also labhi', and 'lebhiya' (Ge 49:9; Nu 23:24; 24:9); compare town in South of Judah, Lebaoth (Jos 15:32) or Beth-lebaoth (Jos 19:6); also Arabic labwat, "lioness "; Lebweh, a town in Coele-Syria. (6) aur, gor, "whelp," with 'aryeh or a pronoun, e.g. "Judah is a lion's whelp," gur 'aryeh (Ge 49:9); "young ones" of the jackal (La 4:3). Also bene labhi', "whelps (sons) of the lioness" (Job 4:11); and kephir 'arayoth, "young lion," literally, "the young of lions" (Jg 14:5). In Job 28:8, the King James Version has "lion's whelps" for bene shachats, the Revised Version (British and American) "proud beasts." the Revised Version margin "sons of pride"; compare Job 41:34 (Hebrew 26). (7) leon, "lion" (2Ti 4:17; Heb 11:33; 1Pe 5:8; Re 4:7; 5:5; The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17; Ec 4:16; 13:19; Bel and the Dragon 31,32,34). (8) skumnos, "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.
Lions are mentioned in the Bible for their strength (Jg 14:18), boldness (2Sa 17:10), ferocity (Ps 7:2), and stealth (Ps 10:9; La 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 (Ps 91:13; Isa 11:6-8; 65:25). The roaring of the lion is often mentioned (Job 4:10; Ps 104:21; Isa 31:4 (the Revised Version (British and American) "growling"); Jer 51:38; Eze 22:25; Ho 11:10). Judah is a "lion's whelp" (Ge 49:9), likewise Dan (De 33:22). It is said of certain of David's warriors (1Ch 12:8) that their "faces were like the faces of lions." David's enemy (Ps 17:12) "is like a lion that is greedy of his prey." "The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion" (Pr 19:12). God in His wrath is "unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah" (Ho 5:14). "The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pe 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 (1Ki 7:29,36; 10:19 f).
Nearly all references to the lion are figurative. The only notices of the lion in narrative are of the lion slain by Samson (Jg 14:5); by David (1Sa 17:34 f); by Benaiah (2Sa 23:20; 1Ch 11:22); the prophet slain by a lion (1Ki 13:24; also 1Ki 20:36); the lions sent by the Lord among the settlers in Samaria (2Ki 17:25); Daniel in the lions' den (Da 6:16). In all these cases the word used is 'aryeh or 'ari.
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 labhi'. As in Arabic, so in Hebrew, the richness of the language in this particular gives opportunity for variety of expression, as in Job 4:10-11:
"The roaring of the lion ('aryeh), and the voice of the fierce lion (shachal),
And the teeth of the young lions (kephirim), are broken.
The old lion (layish) perisheth for lack of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness (bene labhi') are scattered abroad."
In Jg 14:5-18, no less than three different terms, kephir 'arayoth, aryeh, and 'ari, are used of Samson's lion.
Alfred Ely Day