Wolves are wild and fierce carnivorous animals that often sleep during the day and wander at night. The Bible talks of the Palestine wolf which was quite abundant at the time and even today. This type of wolf doesn’t hunt in packs, rather it hunts alone looking for easy prey especially in winter. Benjamin is referred to as a sweeping wolf which figuratively connotes his ability and violence. Apart from the Palestine wolf, there is also the Syrian wolf which is a little lighter in color but also ferocious.
The Bible uses different attributes of the wolf depending on the context in scripture. Here are some of the symbolisms as captured from the different verses of scripture.
What You'll Learn Today
Symbol of Ferocity
Of all tribes of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin was the most spirited and war-like. In the Book of Genesis 49:27, the Bible says,
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”
In blessing his sons, Jacob was guided by the spirit of prophesy instead of natural affection.
In foretelling the future of Benjamin, one of his beloved sons, he says that his posterity will be a war-like tribe that is not only daring but also strong. Their riches were to come from the spoil of their enemies.
Paul the apostle was also of the tribe of Benjamin. In the Book of Romans 11:1, he also confirms that he is an Israelite descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin.
We can see the ferocity of Paul when he was still a persecutor in his early days and later dividing the spoils as a preacher when he met Jesus.
Symbol of The Enemy
Jesus spent as much as time speaking to his disciples about the Kingdom of heaven and all the blessings it contained as the kingdom of darkness and the dangers that lurked therein.
In the Book of John 10:12, the Bible says,
“The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.”
In this verse, Jesus is comparing himself to the enemy who he also refers to as a thief. In the previous verses, he outlines that the purpose of the enemy is to steal, to slaughter, and destroy.
In sharp contrast, Jesus came so that believers can have life and have it more abundantly. The hired man is clearly not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own. When the wolf come to catch and scatter them, the hired man runs away.
The wolf is the enemy who comes to destroy. It is a warning that those in Christ should remain in him for protection and cover against the enemy.
Symbol of the End Times
In the end, Messiah will come for a peaceful reign. Just as it was in the beginning when everything was orderly as created by God, the Bible foretells of a time when the order would be restored. In Isaiah 11:6, the Bible says,
“The 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.”
Considered as a dangerous animal and a metaphor for cruel persecutors, the wolf will lie together with the lamb and even the leopard with the young goat. This is a symbol of the peace that would be at the end of age.
Symbol of False Prophets
The Bible especially the New Testament makes frequent references to false prophets. These were people who opposed the gospel and everything that Jesus did.
If anything, they attempted to corrupt the Holy Word of God by teaching the opposite of what the scripture says.
In the Gospel of Matthew 7:15,
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
The disciples were being warned to watch out for these false teachers and prophets as they would watch out for thieves who come out at night. They were not outright in their appearance and their intentions were not clear to the audience.
They would hide their intentions to corrupt the people of God, but through their words and actions, they would prove it that they are actually false prophets.
In referring to false prophets as ferocious wolves, the Bible shows how dangerous and destructive they can be to Christians in their walk of faith.
In the Book of Acts 20:29, the Bible says,
“I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock.”
This served as a warning to the disciples that they need to be on the lookout because immediately after Jesus is taken away, they would suffer from the afflictions of false prophets who would target the believers under them.
Symbol of Wicked Rulers
In the Book of Zephaniah 3:3, the Bible talks of an oppressive city that was rebellious and defiled. For a moment, one may be made to believe that this has to be a city among the nations and not as a city of God’s people.
On the contrary, the Bible says,
“Her officials within her are roaring lions; her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning.”
This is in reference to the city of Jerusalem. Her people had become so bad and unprincipled to an extent that they would profane the sanctuary and violate the law without any fear.
Zephaniah talks of the evening wolves to mean an enemy who is more fierce, more ravenous, and hungrier to destroy. The rulers of Jerusalem had become so bad and very unforgiving that they would go after the vulnerable people in vulnerable situations to destroy them.
The level of injustice they showed the people gave them no chance of recourse in the courts of law. God is not happy with these rulers.
The wolf may mean so many things from fierce enemies to false teachers to aggressive tribes like that of Benjamin. Depending on the theme that the Bible is addressing, the use of wolf may take different significances. That being said, most of the meanings are negative.