Isaiah's Animals

Isaiah 11 talks about a list of animals hanging together that would not normally. Once again, this list, as so many others, is a list of 13 that map to the tribes.

6The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (Isaiah 11:6-8 NIV)


Tribe Animal
Judah Wolf
Reuben Lamb
Gad Leopard
Asher Goat
Naphtali Calf
Manasseh Young Lion
Simeon Ox
Levi Little Child
Issachar Cow
Zebulun Bear
Joseph Lion
Benjamin Suckling Child/Serpent
Dan Weaned Child/Snake


The translation of each animal from Hebrew to English needs to be audited at some point. Multiple translations read the same so it's probably not too likely to change, but could when audited.

The main key in the mapping, as often happens, is to understand Manasseh and/or Joseph. In this case the same animal, a lion, is mentioned twice, once for Manasseh as a "young lion" and again on Joseph as a "lion." Since Joseph is made up of Ephraim and Manasseh the term lion is hitting Manasseh twice, which we like to see in these lists since he is the double portion holder. The lion is said to eat grass "like" the ox. This is also the second mention of ox, but it's either a doubling of animals on Joseph, for the two tribes, or more likely, it's not part of the count because it's being given as an example of what the lion will do, but not intended as a item for the list itself.

The mapping does not mean anything to me yet. We learn from Genesis that Jacob calls Benjamin a wolf, which does make sense given other scripture about Benjamin and his theme of plundering. So why Judah would align with wolf instead of Benjamin is unclear to me. I'm tempted to think there's no real meaning to this list, but it may be that we simply need to audit the translation and/or we just don't know enough about the animals/tribes yet for the point of this mapping to be obvious. Several other maps did not make sense when I posted them, but with time and further study made lots of sense, so we'll leave this page up as an ongoing study, a tease, until we know more.