The Lion of Judah has ancient roots, tracing back to the days of the Old Testament. The Tribe of Judah was named after Judah the man; the tribe took the lion as their symbol.
In Judaism, the tribe of Judah is symbolized by a lion. Jacob blesses his son, Judah, and calls him a young lion. According to Jewish tradition, Judah’s Hebrew name and nickname may be combined, creating a longer, though more descriptive, name. Such is the case with Judah, who is often referred to as Judah the Young Lion.
To the Christians, the lion symbolizes Jesus Christ – the lion of Judah is included in the names of numerous Christian groups. In Revelations 5:5, it states that, “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.”
Ethiopian tradition alleges that they are descended from a group of Israelites who arrived with Queen Sheba after her visit to King Solomon, father of her son Menelik I. Christians and Jews of Ethiopia believe that the immigrants were members of the tribes of both Judah and Dan. The Lion of Judah played a large part in their culture; at one time it was their national symbol, but also served on postage stamps, money, and even the flag.
To Rastafarians, the Lion of Judah is the name of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie I. They believe that Selassie is directly descended from Judah and the tribe of Judah, through a direct descent from Kings David and Solomon. The Lion of Judah mentioned in Revelations refers to Selassie.