Exodus 19:4

4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Exodus 19:4 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 19:4

Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians
The plagues he brought upon them in Egypt, and the destruction of them at the Red sea; these things they were eyewitnesses of, and needed no other proof or evidence to convince and assure them of them, and therefore must be under obligation to attend to what he was about to recommend unto them, for which reason this is observed:

and [how] I bare you on eagles' wings;
that is, as on eagles' wings, the note of similitude being wanting, but to be supplied; for it cannot be thought that they were literally bore on eagles' wings; but as that creature is reported to be very affectionate to its young, and careful of it, and, as is said, only to one; for, having more, it will cast away all but one, and reserve that, which it carefully nourishes; and being swift of flight, and strong of wing, it will in a remarkable manner take its young upon it, and safely and swiftly convey it where it pleases; of which (See Gill on Deuteronomy 32:11). The eagle excels other birds both in its strength and in the size of its body; and especially its pectoral muscles, by which its wings are supported; are very strong, so that it can carry its young, and other things, on its back and wings; and some such thing nature itself seems to have required, as naturalists observe F4; and there are some histories, which, if true, greatly confirm and illustrate this. Aelianus F5 reports of Tilgamus, a Babylonian, and who afterwards was king of Babylon, and who seems to be the Tilgath Pilneser of the Scriptures, king of Assyria, that when a lad, being thrown down from the top of a tower, an eagle, which is a very quick sighted bird, saw him, and, before he came to the ground, flew under him, took him upon its back, and carried him into a garden, and gently let him down. So it is related of Aristomenes F6, that as he was casting headlong into a deep ditch by the Lacedemonians, where they used to throw condemned malefactors, an eagle flew under him, and bore him on its wings, and carried him to the bottom, without any hurt to any part of his body. Jarchi observes, that whereas other birds carry their young between their feet, for fear of those that fly above them, the eagle flying above all others, and so in no fear of them, carries its young upon its wings, judging it better that a dart should pierce that than its young. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase the words,

``and I bore you on clouds, as on eagles' wings;''

which covered, and protected, and sustained them, as the eagles' wings do its young; the former adds, from Pelusium, a city in Egypt, supposed by the Targumist to be the same with Rameses; where Jarchi observes the people of Israel were very swiftly gathered together as the place of their rendezvous, and were as safely brought from thence to the place where they now were. Thus the Lord showed an affectionate concern for Israel, took them under his care and protection, stood between them and the Egyptians in a pillar of cloud, and secured them from their arrows, and swiftly and safely removed them from the land of Egypt to the place where they now were, distinguishing them from all other nations, having chosen them to be a special people to himself:

and brought you unto myself:
to the mountain of God, where he had appeared to Moses, and given this as a sign and token of the truth of his mission, that he and Israel, when brought out of Egypt by him, should serve him on this mount; and now they were brought thither, where he was about not only to grant his presence in a very singular manner, but to deliver his law unto them, and enter into a covenant with them, and establish and settle them as his people; so that they were a people near unto the Lord, taken into covenant, and indulged with communion with him, and made partakers of various distinguished blessings of his: both the above Targums are, "I brought you to the doctrine of my law", to receive it at this mount.


F4 Scheuchzer. Physica Sacra, vol. 2. p. 186.
F5 Hist. Animal. l. 12. c. 21.
F6 Pausaniae Messenica, sive, l. 4. p. 250, 251.

Exodus 19:4 In-Context

2 After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.
3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel:
4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.
6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”