The Lion of Judah Explained
The “Lion of Judah” is one of the many symbols for the Messiah. Genesis contains the earliest such
reference in the Bible. As Jacob blesses his sons, he says of Judah:
Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey,
my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
The sceptre shall
not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
refers to the kingship of Juda's descendant. Hosea adds more to this lion imagery, citing it as representing God’s power over
the affairs of man.
They (Ephraim) shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then
the children shall tremble from the west.”
What Genesis and Hosea presage is depicted in the Book of Revelation.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open
the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Here, the "lion" is again said to be a descendant of Judah. He is
God’s power embodied in the Messiah – “the Lion of the tribe of Juda(h).”*
The painting, “The Lion of Judah,” symbolically
reflects these themes. For instance, the lion rests before an olive grove on the Mt. of Olives where Jesus Christ lived during his
ministry (most likely in an olive-press cave). The paw of the lion rests upon a clay potshard (used for notes in ancient
times). Written on it is "beth david" in ancient Aramaic - meaning "the House of David." This reflects not only Revelation
5:5’s “root of David,” but also the archaeologically important 9th century BC inscription containing the same (the Tel Dan Stele).**
The potshard’s red color signifies the Messiah’s shed blood and his humanity, being the “last Adam” (2 Cor 15:45).*** The vista behind
the lion looks west across the Kedron Valley to ancient Jerusalem. There, the Temple in the distance symbolizes the power of David,
brought to completion by Solomon – an era of Judean glory.
* Ethiopia’s sign for their Royal family is also called the “Lion of Judah.” This reflects their historical King Menelik,
considered to be the offspring of King Solomon and Makeda, Queen Sheeba.
** The Tel Dan Stele is a black basalt stele discovered
during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It was erected by an Aramaean king and contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating
victories over local ancient peoples including “Israel” and the “House of David.”
*** The name “Adam” comes from the Hebrew root
word meaning “red,” reflecting that humankind was made of clay.