Lion of Judah Meaning

Lion of Judah Meaning
The Lion of Judah meaning has roots in Judaism, Christianity, and Rastafarianism. In Christianity, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah. In Rastafarianism, it represents Emperor Haile Selassie I, as well as strength, dignity, pride, and power.

The lion is a popular symbol across various religions, cultures, and beliefs. The animal represents strength, fierceness, bravery, and royalty. One such use of the animal is the Lion of Judah, a famous symbol in both spirituality and religion. 

The Lion of Judah symbol holds significance in Christianity, Judaism, and other cultures of Ethiopia and Rastafarianism.

What Does The Lion Of Judah Symbolize in Judaism?

The symbol of the Lion of Judah depicts the tribe of Judah. It is a famous symbol of Jewish culture and a national symbol. It originated from the Book of Genesis, in which Jacob blessed his twelve sons on his deathbed. Each son of Jacob is the namesake for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jacob, also known as Israel, blessed his son Judah by calling him “a lion’s cub.” He said in Genesis 49:9, “he crouches as a lion and as a lioness.”

The lion symbolizes power, justice, courage, and God’s protection in ancient Israel. Evidence suggests that lions were also pivotal in the Solomonic temple. The second temple was rebuilt after the return from exile under Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Hebrew Bible also mentions lions numerous times. It hints about the existence of lions in the wild area in the vicinity of the cities. These animals frequently roamed the hills and also attacked herds. 

King David also claimed to kill a lion to protect his sheep (1 Kings 17:36) and used it to defend his belief that he could kill the giant Goliath.

The lion symbol continues to be significant for the Israelites and Jews in political and spiritual aspects. It symbolized Israel and its might, courage, and justice. It is also a part of the flag and emblem of Jerusalem.

Symbol Scholar Article Images 38
A depiction of the Lion of Judah in the city of Jerusalem.

Why Is Jesus Called The Lion Of Judah?

Many Hebrew symbols, along with the Lion of Judah, originated from the Old Testament. They are a part of Christianity and significant in the person of Jesus Christ. 

An early leader of Christianity, John the Elder, wrote the Book of Revelation in 96 CE. In this, he refers to the symbols of the Lion of Judah – “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll” (Revelation 5:5).

According to Christian theology, John referred to Jesus’s second coming when he will return to conquer his enemies. A verse with the description of a slain lamb followed this. This passage gives him the identity of a lion and a lamb.

It also validates prophecies about Jesus as the Lion of Judah. Jesus is confirmed as heir to David and the rightful King of all the Jews. It depicts him as a conqueror despite enduring a terrible death by crucifixion. Christians exclusively relate the symbol of a lion to Jesus. 

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An example of the Lion of Judah symbol used in the building of a Christian church.

Lion Of Judah Meaning In Ethiopia

People also relate the Lion of Judah to the famous Emperor of Ethiopia. As per records from the 14th-century text – Kebra Negast, the child of Israel’s King Solomon, and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, was the founder of Ethiopia’s Solomonic Dynasty. 

According to the country’s traditions, Menelik I initiated the Solomonic Dynasty in the 10th century BCE. 

What Does The Lion Of Judah Symbol Mean In Rastafarian?

Rastafarianism is a movement that originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. Associating the Ethiopian emperor with the Lion of Judah is prominent in this movement. 

According to the Rastafarianism movement, the Lion of the tribe of Judah depicts Haile Selassie I, who was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.

Rastafarians considered him as Christ’s second coming. He also got the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah” at his crowning. Haile Selassie also viewed himself as a faithful Christian and disapproved of the assertion that he was the second coming of Christ.

lion of judah meaning

The Lion of Judah is a famous symbol that holds significance in many cultures like Judaism, Christianity, Rastafarian, and Ethiopian. The animal lion has become associated with blessing, majesty, courage, justice, military might, and power! 

If you’ve found this article useful, check out our post about the chi rho symbol’s meaning.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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