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EAGLE:

The rendering in the English Bible versions of the Hebrew "nesher." The nesher, however, was bald; nested on high rocks; and was gregarious in its habits (Micah i. 16; Job xxxix. 27, 28; Prov. xxx. 17), all of which characteristics belong to the griffin-vulture, but not to the eagle.

Several species of eagles inhabit Palestine; and these are probably all included in the term "'ozniyyah" (Lev. xi. 13; Deut, xiv. 12; compare Tristram, "Natural History of the Bible," p. 181).

The Talmud says that the eagle is the king of birds, but that it is afraid of the flycatcher (Shab. 77b). It flies rapidly without tiring ( = "light like the eagle," Ab. v. 20).

The eagle is ranked among the unclean birds—a fact variously explained by the Talmudic writers (Ḥul. 61a). The nesher is found deified in the Assyrian Nisroch, the vulture-headed god (II Kings xix. 37; Isa. xxxvii. 38), and in the Arabic idol Nasr. In Ezekiel (i. 10, x. 14) the eagle is mentioned in connection with the throne of God. In rabbinic parlance "nesher" is used as a title of distinction; e.g., to denote the Roman government (Sanh. 12a).

Reverse of Copper Coin Bearing an Eagle, Attributed to Herod the Great.(After Madden, "History of Jewish Coinage.")

On the ancient fallacy that the eagle could renew its youth see Bochart, "Hierozoicon," part ii., bk. ii., ch. 1 (compare Ḳimḥi on Ps. ciii. 5).

Bibliography:
  • J. G. Woods, Animals of the Bible, Philadelphia, 1872;
  • L. Lewysohn, Die Zoologie des Talmuds, 1858.
E. G. H. H. H.
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