Eagle

(Herb. nesher; properly the griffon vulture or great vulture, so
called from its tearing its prey with its beak), referred to for
its swiftness of flight (Deut. 28:49; 2 Sam. 1:23), its mounting
high in the air (Job 39:27), its strength (Ps. 103:5), its
setting its nest in high places (Jer. 49:16), and its power of
vision (Job 39:27-30).

This "ravenous bird" is a symbol of those nations whom God
employs and sends forth to do a work of destruction, sweeping
away whatever is decaying and putrescent (Matt. 24:28; Isa.
46:11; Ezek. 39:4; Deut. 28:49; Jer. 4:13; 48:40). It is said
that the eagle sheds his feathers in the beginning of spring,
and with fresh plumage assumes the appearance of youth. To this,
allusion is made in Ps. 103:5 and Isa. 40:31. God's care over
his people is likened to that of the eagle in training its young
to fly (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11, 12). An interesting illustration
is thus recorded by Sir Humphry Davy:, "I once saw a very
interesting sight above the crags of Ben Nevis. Two parent
eagles were teaching their offspring, two young birds, the
maneuvers of flight. They began by rising from the top of the
mountain in the eye of the sun. It was about mid-day, and bright
for the climate. They at first made small circles, and the young
birds imitated them. They paused on their wings, waiting till
they had made their flight, and then took a second and larger
gyration, always rising toward the sun, and enlarging their
circle of flight so as to make a gradually ascending spiral. The
young ones still and slowly followed, apparently flying better
as they mounted; and they continued this sublime exercise,
always rising till they became mere points in the air, and the
young ones were lost, and afterwards their parents, to our
aching sight." (See Isa. 40:31.)

There have been observed in Israel four distinct species of
eagles, (1) the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos); (2) the
spotted eagle (Aquila naevia); (3) the common species, the
imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca); and (4) the Circaetos gallicus,
which preys on reptiles. The eagle was unclean by the Levitical
law (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12).