ANIMAL FORMS OF GOD IN THE BIBLE
Theriomorphic (animal-formed) deities were common in antiquity. Egyptian gods had animal heads, and Mesopotamian gods wore the horns, ears, and tails of the animals they represented. It remained for the Greeks to provide a pantheon of generally anthropomorphic deities. Since most early views of divine beings assumed animal likenesses, it was only natural that, in the Bible, God was sometimes described this way as well. Some Bible references are given in support of this observation.
GOD AS A BULL
God...has as it were the horns of the wild ox (aurochs). Numbers 24:8
And he (Aaron) received the gold from them and fashioned it with a graving tool and made of metal a young bull; and they said, “These are your gods (or, This is your Elohim: God), O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to Yahweh (as a Bull).” Exodus 32:4-5
So the king took counsel and made two young bulls of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods (or, Behold your Elohim: God), O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 1 Kings 12:28
GOD AS LION-LEOPARD-BEAR
Thou huntest me as a fierce lion. Job 10:16
The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is as dew upon the grass. Proverbs 19:12
Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey...
So shall Yahweh Sabaoth come down to fight for Mount Zion...
...as a lion, so will he break all my bones... Isaiah 38:13
He was unto me as a bear lying in wait,
And as a lion in secret places. Lam. 3:19
For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion,
And as a young lion to the house of Judah. Hosea 5:14
They shall walk after Yahweh. He shall roar like a lion...
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion.
As a leopard by the way will I watch them.
I will meet them as a bear...
And there will I devour them like a lion... Hosea 13:7-8
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah... Revelation 5:5
GOD AS A LAMB
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter... Isaiah 53:7
Behold the Lamb of God... John 1:29,36
...of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish. 1 Peter 1:19
...and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb
as if it had been slain... Revelation 5:6
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain... Revelation 5:12
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon,
to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and
the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:23
GOD AS A DOVE
...and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and lighting upon Him. Matt. 3:16, Mk. 1:10,
Lk. 3:22, Jn. 1:32
...and the Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters.
The dove was the symbol of the love goddess in the Canaanite system. It was this bird that brought the gift of pregnancy to females, just as in Europe the stork was the carrier of new babies. In the Genesis account, the Spirit of God was said to be hovering over the water, evidently fertilizing it so that the Earth Egg would be produced. Likewise, the dove of the goddess Asherah was believed to fly down and touch the belly of one who would conceive. As a consequence, in modern Arabic lands, the word “dove” has the double meaning of a man’s genital member.
Should an alien from another planet walk into a typical Christian church and observe its stained glass images, he might imagine that the people were worshiping a White Bird as their God. Is such an image any less faulty than the old Hebrews’ use of a Golden Bull to represent Yahweh?
Richard L. Atkins