views updated Jun 08 2018


EAGLE , bird of prey of the genus Aquila, in particular the Aquila chrysaetos, the largest of the birds of prey. The eagle has been identified by the translators of the Bible with the biblical nesher, rendered by the Septuagint as aetos and by the Vulgate as aquila. Biblical passages, however, ascribe to the nesher characteristics that do not belong to the eagle, such as its feeding on carcasses (in the manner of Ugaritic nšr.; the biblical dictionaries notwithstanding, there is no native Akkadian našru for comparison) and having a bald head, and already R. Tam pointed out the mistake of regarding it as the eagle (Tos. to Hul. 63a). The biblical nesher is the griffon vulture (see *vulture), although its traditional identification as an eagle was accepted by the sages of the Talmud who applied the word to the Roman eagle. Ezekiel also apparently understood it in this sense when he compared the king of Babylonia to the nesher, which has "great wings and long pinions, full of feathers" (Ezek. 17:2–3). This is not the usual biblical nesher, the griffon vulture, which has no feathers on its neck.

The biblical name for eagle is apparently ayit (cf. Gr. aetos), described by Jeremiah (12:8–9) as carnivorous like the lion and as ẓavo'a, the latter in reference, it seems, to its middle talon (eẓba) which is especially long for clutching its prey. The powerful king, the conqueror of Babylonia, is compared to an ayit (Isa. 46:11); the bird's keen sight is referred to by Job (28:7). It is also mentioned several times in the Bible as a general term for carnivorous birds of prey (Ezek. 39:4; Isa. 18:6; and apparently also Gen. 15:11). In Israel there are six species of eagle of the genus Aquila, but they are rare. The largest of the eagles, the Aquila chrysaetos, is seldom seen in Israel.


J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 66; M. Dor, Leksikon Zo'ologi (1965), 246f. Add. Bibliography: cad n/ii, 79.

[Jehuda Feliks]


views updated Jun 27 2018

eagle this large bird of prey, renowned for its keen sight and powerful soaring flight, is traditionally regarded as the king of birds. In the 15th-century Boke of St Albans, the eagle is listed in falconry as the bird for an emperor.

An eagle is the emblem of St John the Evangelist.

The figure of an eagle was used as an ensign in the Roman and French imperial armies; a figure of a bald eagle is the emblem of the United States, from which the Eagle may mean the US.
eagles don't catch flies great or important persons do not concern themselves with trifling matters. The saying is recorded from the mid 16th century, but the Latin aquila non captat muscas ‘the eagle does not catch flies’ is found in the Adages of the Dutch Christian humanist Erasmus (c. 1469–1536).
keep an eagle eye on keep a keen and close watch on.
two-headed eagle the emblem of the empires of Austria and Russia.


views updated May 18 2018

eagle Strong, carnivorous diurnal bird of prey. Sea and fishing eagles, such as the American bald eagle, are large birds found on sea coasts and inland bodies of water, where they feed on fish, small animals, and carrion. Serpent eagles are stocky reptile-eating birds. Large, harpy eagles inhabit tropical forests. Some eagles indigenous to Asia and Africa are open-country predators. True (booted) eagles (Aquila) have long hooked bills, broad wings, powerful toes with long curved talons and fully feathered legs. They are usually brownish, black or grey with light or white markings. They nest high on sea coasts or island mountains, building massive stick nests (eyries) lined with grass and leaves. One or two light-brown or spotted eggs are laid. Length: 40–100cm (16–40in). Family Accipitridae. See also falcon


views updated May 18 2018

ea·gle / ˈēgəl/ • n. 1. a large bird of prey (family Accipitridae, esp. the genus Aquila) with a massive hooked bill and long broad wings, renowned for its keen sight and powerful soaring flight. ∎  one of a pair of officer's insignia in the shape of an eagle. 2. Golf a score of two strokes under par at a hole. • v. [tr.] Golf play (a hole) in two strokes under par.


views updated May 17 2018

1. Pediment of a temple, or, more especially, tympanum from the Greek ὰητόσ, ὰήτωμα.

2. Gable.

3. Reading-desk or lectern in a church, often in the form of an eagle, symbol of the Word and St John the Evangelist. The eagle was believed to be the only bird that could fly directly into the sun without closing its eyes: thus it became a symbol of Holy Scripture, leading us with open eyes to God.


James Douglas


views updated May 21 2018

eagle XIV. — AN. egle, (O)F. aigle, replacing †aille, refash. after Pr. aigla, etc. :- L. aquila, perh. rel. to aquilus dark-brown.
So eaglet young eagle. XVI. See -ET; after F. aiglette, †eglette.