From Bible Encyclopedia
(1) Occurring most often in the Old Testament is אריה, 'aryēh, plural אריות, 'ărāyōth. Another form, ארי, 'ărī, plural אריים, 'ărāyīm, is found less often. Compare אריאל, 'ărī'ēl, “Ariel” (Ezra 8:16; Isaiah 29:1, Isaiah 29:2, Isaiah 29:7); חראל, ḥar'ēl, “upper altar,” and אראיל, 'ări'ēl, “altar hearth” (Ezekiel 43:15); אריה, 'aryēh, “Arieh” (2 Kings 15:25); אראלי, 'ar'ēlī, “Areli” and “Arelites” (Genesis 46:16; Numbers 26:17).
(4) לישׁ, layish, translated “old lion” or “lion” (Job 4:11; Proverbs 30:30; Isaiah 30:6). Compare Arabic laith, “lion”: לישׁ, layish, “Laish,” or “Leshem” (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:7, Judges 18:14, Judges 18:27, Judges 18:29); לישׁ, layish, “Laish” (1 Samuel 25:44; 2 Samuel 3:15).
(5) לבי, lebhī, plural לבאים, lebhā'īm, “lioness”; also לביא, lābhī', and לביּא, lebhīyā' (Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; Numbers 24:9); compare town in South of Judah, Lebaoth (Joshua 15:32) or Beth-Lebaoth (Joshua 19:6); also Arabic labwat, “lioness “; Lebweh, a town in Coele-Syria.
(6) גּוּר, gūr, גּור, gōr, “whelp,” with 'aryēh or a pronoun, e.g. “Judah is a lion's whelp,” gūr 'ăryēh (Genesis 49:9); “young ones” of the jackal (Lamentations 4:3). Also בּני לביא, benē lābhī', “whelps (sons) of the lioness” (Job 4:11); and כּפיר אריות , kephīr 'ărāyōth, “young lion,” literally, “the young of lions” (Judges 14:5). In Job 28:8, the King James Version has “lion's whelps” for בּני שׁחץ, benē shaḥac, the Revised Version (British and American) “proud beasts.” the Revised Version margin “sons of pride”; compare Job 41:34 (Hebrew 26).
(8) σκύμνος, skúmnos, “whelp” (1 Maccabees 3:4).
2. Natural History:
The lion is not found in Palestine at the present day, though in ancient times it is known to have inhabited not only Syria and Palestine but also Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula, and its fossil remains show that it was contemporary with prehistoric man in Northwestern Europe and Great Britain. Its present range extends throughout Africa, and it is also found in Mesopotamia, Southern Persia, and the border of India. There is some reason to think that it may be found in Arabia, but its occurrence there remains to be proved. The Asiatic male lion does not usually have as large a mane as the African, but both belong to one species, Fells leo.
Lions are mentioned in the Bible for their strength (Judges 14:18), boldness (2 Samuel 17:10), ferocity (Psalm 7:2), and stealth (Psalm 10:9; Lamentations 3:10). Therefore in prophetical references to the millennium, the lion, with the bear, wolf, and leopard, is mentioned as living in peace with the ox, calf, kid, lamb and the child (Psalm 91:13; Isaiah 11:6-8; Isaiah 65:25). The roaring of the lion is often mentioned (Job 4:10; Psalm 104:21; Isaiah 31:4 (the Revised Version (British and American) “growling”); Jeremiah 51:38; Ezekiel 22:25; Hosea 11:10). Judah is a “lion's whelp” (Genesis 49:9), likewise Dan (Deuteronomy 33:22). It is said of certain of David's warriors (1 Chronicles 12:8) that their “faces were like the faces of lions.” David's enemy (Psalm 17:12) “is like a lion that is greedy of his prey.” “The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion” (Proverbs 19:12). God in His wrath is “unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah” (Hosea 5:14). “The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Lion” occurs in the figurative language of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. The figures of lions were used in the decorations of Solomon's temple and throne (1 Kings 7:29, 1 Kings 7:36; 1 Kings 10:19 f).
Nearly all references to the lion are figurative. The only notices of the lion in narrative are of the lion slain by Samson (Judges 14:5); by David (1 Samuel 17:34 f); by Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22); the prophet slain by a lion (1 Kings 13:24; also 1 Kings 20:36); the lions sent by the Lord among the settlers in Samaria (2 Kings 17:25); Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 6:16). In all these cases the word used is 'aryēh or 'ărī.
The Arabic language boasts hundreds of names for the lion. Many of these are, however, merely adjectives used substantively. The commonest Arabic names are sab‛, 'asad, laith, and labwat, the last two of which are identified above with the Hebrew layish and lābhī'. As in Arabic, so in Hebrew, the richness of the language in this particular gives opportunity for variety of expression, as in Job 4:10, Job 4:11 :
“The roaring of the lion ('aryēh), and the voice of the fierce lion (shaḥal),
And the teeth of the young lions (kephīrīm), are broken.
The old lion (layish) perisheth for lack of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness (benē lābhī') are scattered abroad.”
In Judges 14:5-18, no less than three different terms, kephīr 'ărāyōth, 'aryēh, and 'ărī, are used of Samson's lion.