This powerful bird of prey was a frequent symbol used by the prophets to represent the warring forces of enemy nations in their sudden and often unexpected attacks. (Deut. 28:49-51; Jer. 48:40; 49:22; Hos. 8:1) The Babylonian and Egyptian rulers were characterized as eagles (Ezek. 17:3, 7; Dan. 7:3, 4), and it is notable that the figure of the eagle was regularly used on the royal scepters, standards and steles of many ancient nations, including Assyria, Persia and Rome, even as it has been used in modern times by Germany, the United States and others.
Some have questioned the use of the word “eagles” at Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37, holding that the texts must refer instead to vultures, gathered around a carcass. However, although the eagle is not primarily a carrion eater, as is the vulture, it does feed on such dead bodies at times. (Palestine Exploration Quarterly, April, 1955, p. 9) So, too, the eagle, though usually a solitary hunter, unlike the gregarious vulture, is known to hunt in pairs occasionally, and the book The Animal Kingdom (1954, Frederick Drimmer, M.A., editor in chief, Vol. II, p. 965) reports an instance in which “a number of them launched a mass attack upon a prong-horned antelope.” Jesus’ prophecy above-mentioned was given in connection with his promised second coming or “presence.” Hence, it would not apply merely to the desolation of the Jewish nation by the Roman armies with their standards emblazoned with the figures of eagles, an event taking place in the year 70 C.E. The later vision at Revelation 19:11-21 parallels Jesus’ prophecy in many respects and depicts a “carcass” formed of earth’s kings, their armies, and all having the mark of the beast. Eagles are elsewhere used in Revelation to represent creatures attending God’s throne and announcing the judgment messages of God for those on earth, doubtless to indicate swiftness and farsightedness.—Rev. 4:7; 8:13; compare Ezekiel 1:10; 10:14.
Another text that many scholars view as applying to the vulture rather than to the eagle is Micah 1:16, which speaks of Israel’s figuratively ‘broadening out its baldness like that of the eagle.’ The eagle’s head is well feathered, even the North American “bald eagle” being called thus only because its white head feathers give it the appearance of baldness from a distance. The Griffon vulture, common in Palestine, has only some soft white down on its head, and the neck is sparsely feathered. If the text applies to it, this would indicate that the Hebrew ne·sherʹ has broader application than to the eagle only. It may be noted that the Griffon vulture, while not classed by ornithologists as of the same “species” or “genus” as the eagle, is counted as of the same “family” (Accipitridae). Some, however, believe Micah 1:16 has reference to the moulting that the eagle undergoes, although this is said to be a quite gradual and rather inconspicuous process. This moulting process, bringing some reduction of activity and strength and followed by a renewal of normal life, may be what the psalmist meant by one’s youth “renewing itself just like that of an eagle.” (Ps. 103:5) Others see in this a reference to the relatively long life of the eagle, some having been known to reach an age of eighty years.
The name “Aquila” (Acts 18:2) is Latin for eagle.
The organ for hearing, designed and created by Jehovah God. (Ps. 94:9; Prov. 20:12) The ear consists of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The middle ear is a small chamber that begins with the eardrum and leads to the maze of passageways that constitute the inner ear. Besides its function in connection with hearing, the inner ear also possesses organs having to do with balance and motion. The possession of two ears is a great help in locating the source and direction of sounds.
The human ear detects sounds within the range of about 15 to 15,000 or 20,000 cycles per second, although some younger persons can hear tones up to 23,000 cycles. The ears of many animals are sensitive to tones of higher pitch that are inaudible to the human ear. The range of sound energy perceived by the human ear is remarkable. The loudest sound that the ear can tolerate without danger is two million million times as powerful as the least perceptible sound. The human ear has the maximum sensitivity that it is practical to possess, for if the ears were any keener they would respond to the unceasing molecular motions of the air particles themselves.
Since the Maker of the ear can hear, the Bible speaks of him as possessing ears, symbolically. (Num. 11:18; Ps. 116:1, 2) By this symbolism Jehovah pictures himself as having ears open to the prayers, petitions and cries of the righteous. (Ps. 10:17; 18:6; 34:15; 130:2; Isa. 59:1; 1 Pet. 3:12) While he hears the murmurings of complainers and the wicked speech of his enemies (Num. 11:1; 2 Ki. 19:28), he refuses to hear their distress calls when execution of judgment catches up with them. (Ezek. 8:18) As to idol images, although they may have ears carved or engraved on them they, of course, cannot hear and are powerless to receive or answer the prayers of their worshipers.—Ps. 115:6.
In the Bible the word “ear” is used very forcefully in a figurative sense as representing the complete process of hearing. The term is used with respect to the faculty of hearing and then weighing the truthfulness and value of what is spoken. (Job 12:11; 34:3) The way the expression “give ear” or to ‘incline one’s ear’ is used indicates that it means to pay attention with a view to acting on that which is heard. (Ps. 78:1; 86:6; Isa. 51:4) To ‘have the ears opened’ means that the individual receives understanding or enlightenment on a matter. (Isa. 50:5) The expression ‘uncover the ear’ may originate from the fact that, in Oriental lands, a person would partially remove the headdress so as to hear more clearly. This expression, as well as the phrase ‘disclose to the ear,’ refers to the giving of information in private or the revealing of a secret or something not previously known.—1 Sam. 9:15; 20:2, 12, 13; 2 Sam.7:27.
An ‘awakened ear’ is one that is made attentive. (Isa. 50:4) Such an ear may belong to a person who has formerly been among the ones “deaf [spiritually] though they have [literal] ears.” (Isa. 43:8) The righteous man is described in the Bible as listening to God, but stopping up his ear to wickedness. (Isa. 33:15) Similarly Jesus, using the word “listen” with the same sense of ‘giving attention to, understanding and believing the good news,’ said: “My sheep listen to my voice,” and, “a stranger they will by no means follow but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”—John 10:27, 5.
On the other hand, the ears of the rebellious ones are said to be “heavy” (AV) or “unresponsive” and they ‘hear with annoyance.’ (Isa. 6:10; Matt. 13:15; Acts 28:27) Such wicked ones are likened to the cobra that stops up its ears, refusing to listen to the voice of the charmer.—Ps. 58:4.
Jehovah, through his servants, spoke of the stubborn, disobedient Israelites as having ‘uncircumcised ears.’ (Jer. 6:10; Acts 7:51) They are as though stopped up with something that impedes hearing. They are ears that have not been opened by Jehovah, who gives ears of understanding and obedience to those who seek him, but allows the spiritual hearing of the disobedient ones to become dulled. (Deut. 29:4; Rom. 11:8) The apostle Paul foretold a time when some professing to be Christians would apostatize from the true faith, not wanting to hear the truth of God’s Word, but desiring to have their ears “tickled” by things pleasing to them, and would therefore listen to false teachers. (2 Tim. 4:3, 4; 1 Tim. 4:1) Also, one’s ears may “tingle” due to hearing startling news, especially news of calamity.—1 Sam. 3:11; 2 Ki. 21:12; Jer. 19:3.