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properly the griffon vulture or great vulture, so called from its tearing its prey with its beak), referred to for its swiftness of flight (Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Samuel 1:23), its mounting high in the air (Job 39:27), its strength (Psalms 103:5), its setting its nest in high places (Jeremiah 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 (Matthew 24:28; Isaiah 46:11; Ezek. 39:4; Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 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 Psalms 103:5 and Isaiah 40:31. God’s care over his people is likened to that of the eagle in training its young to fly (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12). An interesting illustration is thus recorded by Sir Humphry Davy:
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 (Leviticus 11:13; Deuteronomy 14:12).