Genesis 49:9

Hebrew Bible

7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their fury, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel! 8 Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s sons will bow down before you. 9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah, from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches and lies down like a lion; like a lioness—who will rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him. 11 Binding his foal to the vine, and his colt to the choicest vine, he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.

Numbers 24:9

Hebrew Bible

7 He will pour the water out of his buckets, and their descendants will be like abundant water; their king will be greater than Agag, and their kingdom will be exalted. 8 God brought them out of Egypt. They have, as it were, the strength of a young bull; they will devour hostile people, and will break their bones, and will pierce them through with arrows. 9 They crouch and lie down like a lion, and as a lioness, who can stir him? Blessed is the one who blesses you, and cursed is the one who curses you!’” 10 Then Balak became very angry at Balaam, and he struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have done nothing but bless them these three times! 11 So now, go back where you came from! I said that I would greatly honor you, but now the Lord has stood in the way of your honor.”

 Notes and References

"... In this light it is curious to come across the occurrence of the name ʾAriel (“El is a lion”?, “the lion of El”?) and its variants attested in the Hebrew Bible and the Mesha inscription and used to designate a proper name (Ezra 8:16), the city Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1–2, 7), and an altar hearth (Ezekiel 43:15–16). At first glance we might assume that El was portrayed as a lion both in literary texts and in material culture. While we could turn to a great number of lions in the archaeological record (from the large Hazor lions to numerous seal impressions), some of which even occur in temple complexes (e.g., Hazor, Arad), on cult stands (especially the two from Tell Taanach), and even in amulets, we have no clear example of any of them functioning as an attribute animal that was the object of cult. For example, the numerous lions on the Taanach cult stand are interpreted by Keel and Uehlinger as guardian animals rather than divine symbols. Even if lion images are associated with the divine, they need not refer to El, with other West Semitic deities being more likely candidates, especially the god Baal-Seth and the goddess Qedeshet or even Yahweh. In contrast to the use of lions as divine epithets elsewhere in the ancient Near East, the closest we come to a similar usage in biblical literature are the descriptions of El crouching like a lion (Numbers 24:9). Yet we have no hints, apart from the name ʾAriel, that El was ever referred to with lion epithets in ancient Israel ..."

Lewis, Theodore J. The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion through the Lens of Divinity (p. 197) Oxford University Press, 2020

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