Shadows of Messiah – The Elephant

Shadows of Messiah - Elephant

Elephants are known for their incredible intelligence, this is seen in the etymology of the word elephant.

The English word Elephant comes from the Hebrew word אלוף ‘aloof.’  אלוף ‘aloof’ has the meaning of an ox, or any large cattle and training, as in taming animals and a chief.  אלוף ‘aloof’ comes from the root אל ‘el’ which means the strong leader, often translated as ‘God.’ א ‘aleph’ is a picture of an ox head representing strength and ל ‘lamed’ is the shepherd’s staff representing the authority of the shepherd.  Combined this gives the meaning of the strong authority.

אל ‘El’ also represents an ox in a yoke.  In ancient times two oxen would be yoked together.  The older more experienced ox would be teamed up with the younger less experienced ox in order to teach or train up the younger one.  This is seen in the elephant where the young elephant takes hold of the older elephants tail by its trunk.  This is seen in believers who are to be yoked up with Messiah, walking with Him as He trains us into maturity.

Mat 11:29  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, “and you will find rest to your souls.” Jer. 6:16

Mat 11:30  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.


Elephants are also known for their incredible strength.  Strength and wisdom are associated in the Scriptures.

Pro 24:5  A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Ecc 7:19  Wisdom makes the wise stronger than ten rulers who are in the city.

In Hebrew, the word for Elephant is פיל ‘peel’ which is the picture of a mouth, hand, and staff.  This describes the Elephant as their trunk (staff) is used as a ‘hand’ as well as a ‘mouth’ as they ‘speak’ through it in trumpet calls.  The trumpet call is likened unto the Voice of Messiah (Revelation 1:10)….

Interestingly, some believe the covering of the Tabernacle (תחש ‘tachash’) was made of elephant skins.  As the Tabernacle moved through the wilderness, the trumpets were sounded (Numbers 10:5-8)…

Further connecting intelligence to the Elephant is the word for ivory in Hebrew שן ‘shen.’  שן ‘shen’ literally means a tooth, but also has the meaning of to repeat or double. Repetition is a teaching method seen in the cycles of creation which repeat year after year. This is why the word שנן ‘shanan’ means to teach and the word for year is שנה ‘shanah.’

It is interesting to note that Solomon, who was a picture of Messiah, had a throne made of ivory (1 Kings 10:18).  The Greek word for ivory is ἐλεφάντινος ‘elephantinos.’

The coming of the King is one of the main themes of Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets which is intimately linked with the shofar/trumpet.  This is also linked with the resurrection of the dead (John 5:26-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  It is fascinating that elephants are also known for their ability to remember the dead…the dry bones of the deceased. I’ve seen numerous nature programs where elephants return to the place where one of their pack has died to mourn over the bones with loud trumpet blasts…(Ezekiel 37).

1Co 15:51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

1Co 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1Co 15:53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

What’s the word for change? שנה ‘shanah’… which also means sleep and is from the above mentioned root שן ‘shen.’

The word ‘trunk’ traces back to the Hebrew word צנור ‘tsenor’ which means a pipe or ‘waterspout.’

This word is used in the Psalms speaking of a ‘waterspout.’

Psa 42:7  Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.


Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on Psalm 42:7

waterspouts: A water-spout is a large tube formed of clouds by means of the electric fluid, the base being uppermost, and the point let down perpendicularly form the clouds. It has a particular kind of circular motion at the point; and, being hollow within, attracts vast quantities of water, which it frequently pours down in torrents upon the earth. These spouts are frequent on the coast of Syria; and no doubt the Psalmist had often seen them, and the ravages which they made.


As mentioned previously, the trumpet blasts of the elephant are associated with the resurrection of the dead and the voice of Messiah.

Scripture also links to meeting of the Lord in the air when He returns with a whirlwind or ‘water-spout.’

2Ki 2:1  And it happened, when Jehovah was to cause Elijah to go up to Heaven in a tempest, Elijah and Elisha went from Gilgal.


The Hebrew word here for whirlwind/tempest is סערה ‘se’arah’ speaking of a storm.

Psalm 42:7 is linked to the resurrection on a deeper level through its imagery.  The word for deep is תהום ‘tehom’ also means an abyss which is linked to the grave (Revelation 20:13).  The word ‘wave’ is משבר ‘mishbar’ which is speaking of the breaking waves, going back to the root שבר ‘shabar’ which means to break, literally the crushing of a seed hull on the threshing floor (1 Corinthians 15:36–53).  The word ‘billows’ is from גל ‘gal’ which means to roll, or repeat something a second time.  This word is also speaking of a heap of stones placed over a dead body (Joshua 7:26), again linking to death and resurrection.

צנור ‘tsenor’ comes from the root צן ‘tsen’ which is the Hebrew word for a flock of cattle, specifically sheep.

Mat 25:31  But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

Mat 25:32  And before Him shall be gathered all the nations; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Mat 25:33  And indeed He will set the sheep off His right, but the goats off the left hand.

Mat 25:34  Then the King will say to those on His right, Come, the blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.


As seen above, the younger elephant taking hold of the more mature elephant is a picture of the Teacher – disciple relationship believers have with Messiah.

The English word tail comes from תלל ‘talal’ which is linked to the tassels on the corners of the garments of believers.  תל ‘tal’ means to hang down and related to the word טלל ‘talal’ which means to cover a large area.

The four corners of the heavens from which God will gather all Israel (Isaiah 11:12; Jeremiah 49:36; Matthew 24:31) are pictured by the corners of the טלית ‘tallit.’  The word טלית ‘tallit’ is not used in the Scriptures but traces back to the word תל ‘tal’ which means a covering.

Mal 4:2  But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise up, and healing will be on His wings. And you shall go out and frisk like calves of the stall.

Zec 8:23  So says Jehovah of Hosts: In those days ten men out of all languages of the nations shall take hold, and will seize the skirt of a man, a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.


Another word for lamb in Hebrew is טלה ‘taleh’ which means to be covered in spots, again linking elephants and sheep.

Yet another word in Hebrew for a sheep or lamb is כר ‘kar’ which is speaking of the ‘hollow hump’ of a camel or a sheep in a pasture in a hollow.  Interestingly, this word כר ‘kar’ is the source of the English word ‘car’ speaking of transportation.  This is also the word for a riding compartment on elephants used by the ancients.

Isa 66:20  And they shall bring all your brothers out of all nations, an offering to Jehovah, on horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and on mules, and on camels (כרכרה ‘karkarah’ from the root כר ‘kar’) , to My holy mountain Jerusalem, says Jehovah; as the sons of Israel bring the offering in a clean vessel to the house of Jehovah.

One of the most unique features of the elephant is their ability to “sense” when one of their loved ones has died and their mourning over that family member.  An amazing example is seen in the story of Lawrence Anthony’s death in March of 2012.  Anthony was known as the “Elephant Whisperer” who was made famous for saving the lives of numerous elephants throughout his life.


Lawrence Anthony

Anthony’s family tell a story of the day of his death where the elephants, whose life he saved, started on a “solemn procession” to his house where they mourned his death for two days, not eating anything during their stay.

Elephant funeral procession

Lawrence Anthony, Baghdad Zoo Savior, Dies at 61

“For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the ‘Elephant Whisperer.’

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu – to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death.“They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush.”Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong “mahout.” The pair develop legendary bonds – and it is not

uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.”

UPDATE: Elephants Who Appeared To Mourn Their Human Friend Remain Protected




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