The first eagle, described as “great,” with great, long wings that were full of diverse-colored feathers, pictured King Nebuchadnezzar, the head of gold in the “great” Babylonian Empire (Dan. 2:38). Wings are used for flight, speed, power, and coverage. The variety of color in the feathers represented the diverse peoples in the empire with a diversity of talent.
Jeremiah, a contemporary of Ezekiel, referred to the speed of the Babylonian army, saying it was “swifter than eagles” (Jer. 4:13). He also likened this enemy of Israel, which came from the north, to a lion and a “destroyer of the Gentiles.” Through Jeremiah, God told Israel that the judgment was coming and the enemy would be victorious. “I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant” (Jer. 4:6,7). The lion and the eagle symbolize ferocity and swiftness, respectively. In Daniel 7:1–4, the kingdom of Babylon is likened to a lion (king of the beasts) with the wings of an eagle (king of the birds). An eagle spreads its wings to paralyze its prey; a lion roars.