Eagles or Vultures?
“WHEREVER the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:28) Instead of learning from this illustration, some find fault with it. They say that eagles are solitary hunters that feed on live prey, not carcasses. Thus, some Bibles use the word “vultures.” But the Greek word in question, a·e·tosʹ, is correctly translated “eagle.”
One species found in Israel is the tawny eagle. “Like many birds of prey,” observe John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn, “the tawny eagle is not averse to carrion and is quite often among the first arrivals at a fresh kill.” Another observer reported a gathering of 60 bateleurs and tawny eagles in Africa’s Kalahari. He added: “The Tawny Eagle is dominant when they meet at carrion. In a number of cases two birds, presumably a pair, have been seen to share a kill.”
Sea eagles are also common in lands of the Mediterranean. In past centuries, sea eagles and land eagles fed on the carcasses of horses slain in battle. “It is well known . . . that they follow armies for that purpose,” states McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia.
Being swift and farsighted, eagles are sometimes the first birds to arrive at a fresh carcass. Jesus was familiar with the description in which Jehovah God asked Job this humbling question: “Is it at your order that an eagle flies upward and that it builds its nest high up, . . . upon the tooth of a crag and an inaccessible place? From there it has to search for food; far into the distance its eyes keep looking. . . . Where the slain are, there it is.”—Job 39:27-30.
Thus, Jesus well illustrated that only those with a figurative eagle eye would benefit from the sign.