You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4, TNIV)

I recently read an interesting BBC report on the plight of the Griffon Vulture in the land of the Israel which has inspired this blog post.  Here is the article that describes the decline in numbers of these vultures due the pest control used by local farmers:

“Farmers whose animals have been repeatedly attacked by wolves and jackals have resorted to leaving out meat laced with deadly chemicals. … The vulture can eat almost anything, including meat infected with anthrax, so giving it a valuable ecological role. But it cannot cope with the poisons being used against wolves.” (Bob Walker, BBC Today Programme Report)

The Griffon Vulture is mentioned on numerous occasions throughout the Bible; however, it is usually translated as eagle in our English translations of the Hebrew.

“The word Nesher, is invariably translated … as “Eagle”.  However, the Nesher which was undoubtedly not actually the Eagle, but a different kind of bird, and has satisfactorily been identified with the Griffon Vulture or Great Vulture. The reasons for this conclusion are so inextricably interwoven with the various passages in which the bird is mentioned.” (http://www.thewonderofbirds.com/griffon-vulture/)

Here are a few Bible passages which nicely describe the vultures characteristics:

Swiftness

Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
” (2 Samuel 1:23, TNIV)

Our pursuers were swifter
than eagles in the sky;
they chased us over the mountains
and lay in wait for us in the desert.
” (Lamentations 4:19, TNIV)

Longevity

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
… who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
” (Psalm 103:1,5, TNIV)

Building nests at high elevations

“The terror you inspire
and the pride of your heart have deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks,
who occupy the heights of the hill.
Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the LORD.
” (Jeremiah 49:16, TNIV)

Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar.
Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.
” (Job 39:27-30, TNIV)

“Viewing these various passages in which the Nesher is mentioned in the Bible, we shall find that the sacred writers were thoroughly acquainted with the Griffon Vulture, and that they wrote of it with an occasional fulness and an invariable precision which shows how familiar they were with a bird that was once so plentiful and so conspicuous.”  (http://www.thewonderofbirds.com/griffon-vulture/)

For the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.

The LORD alone led him;
no foreign god was with him.
” (Deuteronomy 32:9-12, TNIV)

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