Verse 31. "They shall mount zap with wings as eagles "They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle"" - It has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigour to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. "Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle, "says the psalmist, ciii. 5; on which place St. Ambrose notes, Aquila longam aetatem ducit, dum, vetustis plumis fatiscentibus, nova pennarum successione juvenescit: "The eagle lives to a very advanced age; and in moulting his youth is renewed with his new feathers." Phile, De Animalibus, treating of the eagle, and addressing himself to the emperor Michael Palaeologus junior, raises his compliment upon the same notion:- toutou su, basileu, ton polun zwoiv bion, aei neourgwn, kai kratunwn thn fusin.
"Long may'st thou live, O king; still like the eagle Renew thy youth, and still retain thy vigour." To this many fabulous and absurd circumstances are added by several ancient writers and commentators on Scripture; see Bochart, Hieroz. ii. ii.
1. Rabbi Saadias says, Every tenth year the eagle flies near the sun; and when not able any longer to bear the burning heat, she falls down into the sea, and soon loses her feathers, and thus renews her vigour. This she does every tenth year till the hundredth, when, after she has ascended near the sun, and fallen into the sea, she rises no more. How much proof do such stories require! Whether the notion of the eagle's renewing his youth is in any degree well founded or not, I need not inquire; it is enough for a poet, whether profane or sacred, to have the authority of popular opinion to support an image introduced for illustration or ornament. - L