Spiritual Meaning of

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As eagles fly high and are sharp-sighted, they signify rational things. That this is the case may be seen from many passages in the Word, of which in confirmation we may adduce the following. First, where they signify true rational things; in Moses:--

Jehovah found His people in a desert land, and in emptiness, in wailing, in solitude: He led him about, He instructed him, he kept him as the pupil of the eye; as the eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth out her wings, taketh him, beareth him upon her wings (Deut. 32:10, 11).

Instruction in the truths and goods of faith is what is here described, and is compared to the eagle. The very process until man becomes rational and spiritual, is contained in the description and comparison. The comparisons in the Word are all made by means of significatives thus here by the eagle, which is the rational.

[2] In the same: Jehovah said to Moses:--

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and bare you up upon eagles wings, that I might bring you unto Myself (Exod. 19:3, 4);

denoting the same. In Isaiah:--

They that wait upon Jehovah shall be renewed in strength, they shall mount up with strong wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isa. 40:31);

to be renewed in strength is to grow as to the willing of good; and to mount up with strong wing as eagles is to grow as to the understanding of truth, thus as to the rational. The subject is set forth here as elsewhere by two expressions, one of which involves the good which is of the will, and the other the truth which is of the understanding; and the case is the same with the expressions, they shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

[3] In Ezekiel:--

Speak a parable about the house of Israel, and say, Thus said the Lord Jehovih, A great eagle, with long pinions, full of feathers, that had embroidery, came upon Lebanon, and took a twig of the cedar; he carried it into a land of traffic, he set it in a city of spice merchants. It grew, and became a spreading vine. There was another great eagle, with great and many feathers; and behold this vine did bend its roots toward him, and sent forth its branches toward him, that he might water it from the beds of its plantations in a good field, by many waters; but it shall be laid waste. He sent his ambassadors into Egypt that they might give him horses and much people (Ezek. 17:2-9, 15).

The eagle first mentioned denotes the rational enlightened by the Divine; the eagle mentioned in the second place denotes the rational from what is man's own, afterwards become perverted through reasonings from sensuous things and memory-knowledges. Egypt denotes memory-knowledges, (AC 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462); horses the intellectual from them, (AC 2761, 2762, 3217).

[4] In Daniel:--

The vision of Daniel: Four beasts came up out of the sea, diverse one from another; the first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon its feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it (Daniel 7:3, 4).

The first state of the church is what is here described by a lion that had eagle's wings; and the eagle's wings here are rational things from what is man's own, on the taking away of which they were given rational and voluntary things from the Divine, which are signified by its being taken up from the earth, and made to stand upon its feet like a man, and having a man's heart given to it.

[5] In Ezekiel, in the description of the likeness of the faces of the four living creatures, or cherubs:--

They had the face of a man, and they four had the face of a lion on the right side, and they four had the face of an ox on the left side, and they four had the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10).

As for the wheels they were called Galgal, and everyone had four faces; the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle (Ezek. 10:13, 14).

In John:--

Round about the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind; the first living creature was like a lion; and the second living creature was like a calf; and the third living creature had a face as a man; and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle (Rev. 4:6, 7).

That the living creatures thus seen signify Divine arcana, is evident; and consequently so does the likeness of their faces; but what arcana in particular are signified cannot be known unless it is known what in the internal sense is a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle. That the face of an eagle is circumspection and consequently Providence is manifest; for the cherubs represented by the living creatures in Ezekiel signify the Providence of the Lord lest man should enter into the mysteries of faith from himself and his own rational (AC 308). This shows that when it is predicated of man, the eagle is in the internal sense the rational; and this for the reason that the eagle flies high, and from above has a wide view of the things that are below.

[6] In Job:--

Does the hawk fly by thine intelligence, and stretch her wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? (Job 39:26, 27);

it is evident that the eagle here is reason, which is of intelligence. Such was the signification of the eagle in the Ancient Church; for the book of Job is a book of the Ancient Church (AC 3540). Almost all the books of that period were written by means of significatives; but in process of time the significatives have become so completely forgotten that it is not even known that birds in general denote thoughts, although they are so frequently mentioned in the Word and it appears quite plain that they have another meaning.

[7] That in the opposite sense an eagle signifies rational things that are not true, and thus false, is evident from the following passages. In Moses:--

Jehovah shall bring upon thee a nation from far from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth, a nation whose tongue thou hearest not, a nation hard in faces (Deut. 28:49, 50).

In Jeremiah:--

Behold he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are laid waste (Jer. 4:13).

In the same:--

Thy boasting hath deceived thee, the pride of thy heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill; because thou makest thy nest as high as the eagle I will bring thee down from thence. Behold he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread out his wings above Bozrah; and the heart of the mighty men of Edom at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs (Jer. 49:16, 22).

In the same:--

Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles; they chased us upon the mountains; they laid wait for us in the wilderness (Lam. 4:19).

In Micah:--

Make thee bald, and poll thee for the sons of thy delights; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee (Micah 1:16).

In Obadiah:--

Though thou mount on high as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence (Obadiah 1:4).

In Habakkuk:--

I am stirring up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation, that marcheth through the breadths of the land to inherit dwelling-places that are not theirs. Their horses are swifter than eagles ; their horsemen come from far, they fly as an eagle that hasteth to devour (Habakkuk 1:6, 8).

[8] By eagles in these passages is signified falsity induced by reasonings, which is induced from the fallacies of the senses and external appearances. That by the Chaldeans in the Prophet last cited are signified those who are in a holy external, but interiorly in falsity, may be seen above (AC 1368); also that they who vastate the church are like Babylon (AC 1327); that the breadths of the land denote truths (AC 3433, 3434). Vastation is signified by marching through the breadths of the land. Their horses are their intellectual things, which are similar (AC 2761, 2762, 3217). What the eagle hastening to devour signifies, is thus evident, namely, the desolation of man in respect to truths; for the desolation of the church is there treated of. Comparisons are here made with eagles; but as before said, the comparisons in the Word are made by means of significatives. From all this we can now see what is signified by the comparison with the eagles that will be gathered together to the carcass.

from AC 3901

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info