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The Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5) is a symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah in the Book of Genesis and a phrase in the Book of Revelation representing Jesus . The rampant Lion of heraldary is a Christian symbol used by European Royalty. Judah, son of Jacob the Israelite, was the progenitor of King David, and of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
The Biblical Judah (in Hebrew: Yehuda) is the original name of the Tribe of Judah, which is traditionally symbolized by a lion. In Genesis, the patriarch Jacob ("Israel") gave that symbol to his tribe when he refers to his son Judah as a Gur Aryeh גּוּר אַרְיֵה יְהוּדָה, a "Young Lion" (Genesis 49:9) when blessing him. In Jewish naming tradition the Hebrew name and the substitute name are often combined as a pair, as in this case.
In Christian tradition, the Lion of Judah represents Jesus. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and he is mentioned as the Lion of Judah in Revelation. Many Christian organizations and ministries use the lion of Judah as their emblem or even their name.
The phrase appears in the New Testament Book of Revelation 5:5; "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
Ethiopia's traditions, recorded and elaborated in a 5th century treatise, the "Kebre Negest", assert descent from a retinue of Israelites who returned with Makeda, the Queen of Sheba from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem, by whom she had conceived the Solomonic dynasty's founder, Menelik I. As Solomon was of the tribe of Judah, his son Menelik I would continue the line, which according to Ethiopian tradition was passed directly down from King to King until Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974. Both Christian and Jewish Ethiopian tradition has it that there were also immigrants of the Tribes of Dan and Judah that accompanied Makeda (Queen of Sheba) back from her visit to Solomon; hence the Ge'ez motto Mo`a 'Anbessa Ze'imnegede Yihuda ("The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered"), included among the titles of the Emperor (King of Kings) throughout the Solomonic Dynasty. It is unknown whether John of Patmos was directly aware of this hereditary title when he penned it into the text of the prophecy. The Lion of Judah motif figured prominently on the old imperial flag, currency, stamps, etc. and may still be seen gracing the terrace of the capital as a national symbol. After the collapse of the Communist Derg in 1990 and the increase of Western-style political freedoms, a minor political party bearing the name Mo'a Anbessa made its appearance.
In Rastafari, "The Lion of Judah" represents Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, crowned November 2, 1930 with the titles King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God and Power of the Trinity. Rastas hold that Selassie is a direct descendant of the Israelite Tribe of Judah through the lineage of King David and Solomon, and that he is also the Lion of Judah mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
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