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. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 66; M. Dor, Leksikon Zo'ologi (1965), 246f. Add. Bibliography: CAD N/II, 79. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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