What is The Lion of Judah and where did it come from?

Posted by naama on August 16, 2012 under Jewish Symbols | Be the First to Comment


Did you ever hear of such a thing? Well if you are like me and was not raised in a typical traditional home, nor brought up in Israel, then you would be forgiven for thinking it was a name of a song written by the famous singer Bob Marley named Iron Lion Zion.

So the truth is that if you thought that, then you are still on the right track, no pun intended.Lion of JudahThis is because Bob Marley wrote and sang many songs that sounded to me very similar to the words Lion of Judah and somewhat Jewish.

I myself as a youngster was very fond of his music likely due to his lyrics which I could connect to.  Funny enough he too could probably connect to his own lyrics. For two reasons, firstly he was a quarter Jewish on his fathers side, and in later life he associated himself with the Rastafarian religion, which also believes they descend from the Jewish king Solomon and later Haile Selassie.    


But where did it come from, and what’s it actually symbolize? The symbol itself is from the Israelite tribe of Judah. Judah was one of the twelve tribes of Israeli, which is also known as the kingly tribe.

The symbolism in Judaism

Judah as I already stated was one of the heads of the tribes of Israel, and a son of Jacob, (Also known as Israel) and grandson of Isaac, and the great grandson of Abraham.

Judah became associated with the lion when his father referred to him as a Young Lion (In Genesis 49:9) when blessing his children before passing on. Judah latter used the symbol as its tribes banner.

As I also mentioned before, Judah was known as the kingly tribe. This is because kings would descend from him, including the great kings David and his son Solomon. It is also commonly believed that the great redeemer of the Jewish people will someday come from the kingly tribe, and be a male descendent of David.

In Jewish History

The symbol and name would later be used to represent the previous two state Israel which was in ancient days divided into what is know as Judah and Israel after the collapse, of the great one state kingdom.

When ancient Israel was captured and the people where taken as captives by the Babylonians, all the Jewish tribes in the upper Israel where lost. After the first exile, the Jewish people where only left with the tribes of Judah, and Levi (The priestly tribe), so where then on known as Judah.

Modern Jewish History

I can only assume that is why the Nazis and before them the Germans referred to Jews as Jude, which possible comes from the name Judah. Here in Israel, although it is not the official object of Israel it can be seen on many government institutions and is in fact on the flag of Jerusalem.

In Christianity

They believe it represents Jesus. They believe Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and he is mentioned as the Lion of Judah in Revelation. However it is worth noting that in those days people took on the fathers tribe, which can not be Judah or any other as they believed his father was G*d.

Many Christian organizations show the lion as their badge. In a phrase from the New Testament (I prefer Christian bible, as Jews don’t believe that a new testament was ever given) Revelation 5:5; “And one of the elders said unto me, cry not: and observe, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the origin of David, have prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

In Rastafari

Rastafarians believe the Lion represents their dead ruler Haile Selassie. He was king of Ethiopia and among the titles they referred to him as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, successful Lion of Judah, chosen by G*d. Rastas also believe that he was a direct descendant of the Israelite Tribe of Judah, through the family of King David and Solomon, and that he is also the Lion of Judah mentioned in the Christian Revelation (However this is not a Jewish belief). Furthermore it is due to him that the Ethiopian flag can be seen to have a lion on it.

The conclusion

When you have a good thing which is based on truth, it indeed lasts a long time. I guess this is due to the power imbedded into the symbolism of it, and the belief that someday this is going to be on the coat of arms to the final king of kings who will bring be peace to everyone.

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