Revelation 5:5, “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.” Jesus is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This is one of many titles for Christ. There is not any other verse that mentions this title for Christ, so let us explore this briefly, to understand what this title indicates.
Lions were very abundant in Palestine until the end of the twelfth century, when they became extinct there. We do not often associate lions with this part of the world but they were prevalent there for most of its history. There are several Hebrew words that are used for lion. The first one is aryeh. It speaks of a young lion and emphasizes the violence that a lion can bring forth. This word is used in Judges 14:18. Another word for lion is shachal which speaks of the lion when it is roaring or when it is fierce. This is seen in Job 10:16. The next word for lion is layish. Layish speaks of an old lion and a lion that delivers crushing blows. This is found in Proverbs 30:30. Another word for lion, found in Psalm 17:12, is kephiyr. This speaks of a young lion with a mane. In Job 28:8, the word used for lion is shachats which speaks of a lion that is haughty or prideful and stout. Another word for lion is lebi which speaks of an old, fierce lion or lioness. This word is found in Nahum 2:12. There are many characteristics associated with a lion, in the Bible, all of which have to do with fierceness, power and stage of life. Lions in Palestine were not a large as those in Africa, yet they were quite fierce. They often attacked flocks of sheep, while the shepherd was there. They attacked and devoured individuals and decimated entire villages.
Genesis 49:9, “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? “ Here Jacob gathers his sons together, to tell them of what is going to happen to them in the future. He uses three words for lion, while describing Judah. First, he uses aryeh, speaking of a young, violent lion, but attached to it is the word guwar which means a cub. He then simply calls Judah aryeh, which again means a young violent lion. This time, though, without guwar, it speaks of being older than a cub. He then calls Judah lebi which in context means an old, stout, fierce lion. These three words encompass all stages of a man’s life and symbolically the life of the tribe. It encompasses infancy, young adulthood and old age. Throughout history, the lion has been a symbol of Judah, in Jewish art and culture. Sculptures of lions stand outside of synagogues. Jewish tradition says that the standard, flow by Judah, in Numbers 2:2 was a lion. Today both the flag of Jerusalem and the coat of arms of Jerusalem contain the lion of Judah.
So now that we see the characteristics of lions, as represented in the Bible, as well as their importance, in the history of the tribe of Judah, how does this relate to Jesus? John 7:42, “Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? “ Jesus came from the line of David. He was born in Bethlehem. David is from the tribe of Judah and Bethlehem is a town in Judah. Therefore, Jesus is from the tribe of Judah. Jesus is called in Revelation 5:5, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10, “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.” This verse is the very next verse, that follows Jacob calling Judah a lion. It is a prophecy and it speaks of the scepter not departing from the tribe of Judah. The scepter speaks of ruling but the prophecy does not mean that there will be a continual line of rulers but that the tribe of Judah will always have the right to rule. This will be the case until the coming of Shiloh. Shiloh is a title for the Messiah. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Luke 9:20, “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.” Revelation 5:5 is a vision of the end times. Jesus will be coming shortly after this to rule. Revelation 19:10-16, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 22:3, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” Here we see that Jesus has come to rule. This shows that Shiloh is Jesus. So, we see that the term Lion of the Tribe of Judah speaks of Jesus, being a ruler. He is powerful, mighty and fierce. This combined with His love, grace, mercy and other attributes makes an awesome combination for a ruler. Jesus is the Lion of Judah a mighty, powerful ruler.