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Question 9 - The Mother Eagle
In a story that is familiar to all followers of William Branham's message, William Branham tells of how he saw a mother eagle put her wings out and watched as her babies hopped onto her wing. She then flew them down to the grass in the valley below and then went back up to a mountaintop to watch them. Later, as a storm approached, she flew back down into the valley and took her eaglets back onto her wings and flew them to a place of safety.
However, there is nothing from the study of eagles that would indicate that North American eagles or any bird, in fact, carry their young on their wings. One internet article describes this concept as being "a thing wholly incompatible with flight in any bird."
Where did William Branham get this? Probably from Deut 32:11 in the KJV - "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, Spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, Beareth them on her wings" However, newer translations have made this clearer - "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, so the LORD spread out his wings and took him, he lifted him up on his pinions." (NET)
He may also have read this in Matthew Henry's commentary: "Other birds carry their young in their talons, but the eagle (they say) upon her wings, so that even those archers who shoot flying cannot hurt the young ones, unless they first shoot through the old one." (P. 122). Matthew Henry was clear that he had no personal knowledge of the issue. William Branham, however, was not so careful.
The ISBE is very clear: This “bare you on eagles’ wings” must not be interpreted to mean that an eagle ever carried anything on its back. It merely means that by strength of powerful wing it could carry quite a load with its feet and frequently was seen doing this. (p. 885)
We are forced to conclude that William Branham did not see the eaglets on the wings of their mother. He did not see what he claimed to have witnessed.
Was this part of his "exaggerating" that you referred to? At what point in time does exaggeration become dishonesty?
For completeness, here are two different tellings of this story:
- Here'not long ago I was up in the mountains. I just love hunting. You know that. That’s my second nature, I’m a real Kentuckian; I got a squirrel rifle. See? And I just like to go hunting. I was way up in the mountains and I was watching up there, looking through the binoculars. Right at the time, I wasn’t hunting at the time, I was herding cattle. And I’ve worked cattle since I was a boy, so I go up there in the roundups and things, and I was watching down through a—a sight. I seen an old mother eagle. And she had a big nest up in the rock. It was along in the months, you know, after the little fellows had hatched out. And they were all walking around on this nest, and I spied that nest. The old mother was go take them out of the nest, and they were walking around there, you know, poor little old fellows. And she throwed her wings down like that and she, “Squawk!” made a squawk, and all them little eagles reached over, and took their little mouth, and set hold of them wings, got their little feet and held onto her wings.
- She lifted them up, up out of the nest, down through the crevice she went, down into the valley. And they’d never been out of that old pukey nest before (excuse the expression), and got down there. The nest is the stinkiest place you ever seen around an eagle’s nest. And then she let them down. And them poor little fellows got out, and they got on this green grass; how good that felt to them little feet. They were just a prancing around, and getting a mouthful of grass, and chirping. And the old mother flew back up, way back up to the top of the highest peak she could, she ruffled her big feathers, and me setting up there, my horse hitched, watching this take place. I seen this old mother up there watching them little eagles. I stood there; I started crying; I said, “Glory to God.” I thought. “What’s the matter with me?” I looked down, and I thought, “Yes, one time the little church was in an old pukey nest, and she had to do this, that, and the other: join the church and do this and the other thing. But one day the great Master of Life, Who with His lifting power of the Holy Ghost had lifted Her up, brought her out of that thing, set her down, like an old…”
- If them little eagles wasn’t having an old holy-roller meeting, I don’t know what. They were just as chirping as they could be, just a jumping around, just like an old fashion Holy Ghost meeting. They were grabbing on a bunch here, run one over to one another, “Chirp, chirp, chirp,” and run around like that, just like a Holy Ghost meeting, just as carefree as you can be. Amen. Yes, sir. I like to watch God like that. And why was they so carefree? I wond… Watch them little fellows, that’s the first time they was ever in this place. What makes them so carefree? But you once watch one, he’d cock his little head up, look setting up yonder there set mammy. Yes, sir.
- Brother, she was watching over them. And I thought, “Yes, our great Master, after bring us out of the pukey nest of the world, has climbed the ramparts of glory, sitting at the right-hand of the Majesty, watching down on us.” Hallelujah. You let a coyote start towards one of them little eagles, and watch what a flogging he will ever get. Yes, sir. I thought, “Let the devil come, if he wants to get a flogging. Let’s be free.” Amen. Just have a glorious time. All right. She watched there for a little while. After while, there came a storm, started back in there, I heard of roar of a thunder. That old mother, I was watching her through my glasses, she turned her head and kept looking. And she smelled that storm coming. And the little fellows heard that storm, they never heard anything like that. Just like the church today, we wonder what all this racket’s about. But the first thing they done, they huddled together. Amen.
- That’s what we need today: huddle together. I don’t care if you’re this, that, or the other, let’s get together as Christian believers. Don’t separate yourselves; let’s get together. And the first thing you know, that old mother looked, when she knowed she’s about timed right, she let out a scream. And when she did those little eagles turned towards her. She flew down into that valley like that, throwed out her great big wings. Those little fellows jumped upon that same wing.(Hallelujah. I thought, “Yes, sir. That’s right.”), jumped upon the same wing, took their bill, and caught hold of a feather, tucked their little paws, and hooked into the other feather. Up she lifted them, up, up, up, up a piercing that storm, run right into the cleft of the rock down yonder, and hid those little fellows. (53-1115A - Speak To The Rock, para. 65-69)
- One time I was herding some cattle, and I had pair of binoculars, and I got up on top the hill, and I was looking off. It was a beautiful sight, seeing God in His nature, how He was moving. And there was an old eagle had built some nest way up in some big thickets, way up in the rocks is where she usually makes her nest. And I seen her. She was trying to get her little ones out of this nest. She’d throw out her wings like that and coo, coo. And I had a pair of ten power binoculars; I was watching for cattle on the range, so I could pick up where that old eagle was. I watched her. She was cooing to those little ones, and oh, if you ever was around an eagle’s nest, how it smells. And all those little eagles come out and got on her wings. She lifted them up out of there, brought them way down through the crevices, and down into the meadows, and set them out.
- Now, them poor little eagles have never been on grass before. The only thing they know was the old nest, stinking, and stickers, and everything: how they make their nests out of poles and stickers and things. When them little eagles dropped off her wings, begin to get out there and pick a little piece of grass here and there, why, they was the happiest little fellows you ever seen. She turned around and went plumb just as high as she could go to the highest spot on a mountain. She set down there and moved her big feathers. I throwed my glasses up to look at her. And there she was. I was setting over in the top of a bush watching her, my horse tied over the hill, watching her. I thought, “Oh, God, hallelujah.”
- I looked at her again; I seen her up there, that big head up, looking around like that watching those eagles. I seen those little eagles just look up to see where mammy was, you know, and they was just as carefree as they could be. They’d tumble over one another, and grab… That new grass felt so good on their feet. And I thought, “Oh, brother, if that isn’t a Holy Ghost meeting, I never seen one in my life. That’s right. Been in the old pukey nest, excuse me, good old vomity nest of the world, out here fooling around with things, and God comes down in His mercy, picks you up on His everlasting wings, moves you over and sets you down in a big fashion Holy Ghost meeting, where you’re just carefree. And the Lord Jesus Christ climbed the ramparts of glory, sets at the right hand of His majesty tonight; His eye is on the sparrow, and He—I know He watches me. He’s watching every move (Yes, sir.) to see what takes place. I’m telling you, let a coyote come up if he wants to get the biggest flogging he ever had. She’d dive off of that rock there and give him a thrashing like he never had. That’s right. You let the devil go to fooling around in a Christian meeting one time and watch what a flogging he gets. That’s right. ’Cause our Great Master of Life is climbed up higher and setting in His Majesty looking down. His eyes like on the sparrow and He watches every one of His children. He knows where they’re at and what they’re doing. Don’t fear; just be as free as you can be.
- My, first thing you know, I seen this old eagle lift her head and sniff the air a few times. There was a northerner coming, and it comes quick. And before hardly a minute or two, the lightning was flashing, a black cloud was coming. She let out a scream and come off that rock; right down into that field she went, soared like a bullet, throwed them big wings out like that and begin to go screaming, chirping, and going on. Every one of those little eagles come just as fast as they could go, reached over and took a hold of feather with their mouth, caught on like that, caught their little paws in her wings. And she just lifted up that whole wing full of eagles, away she went in that storm meeting her right in the face. She pressed right on in and went into the hole in the rock. (54-0811 - Show Us The Father, para. 22-25)
Thank you for your continued dialogue.
You seem to have already anticipated my answer.
From a natural standpoint, I would agree with you it is highly unlikely Bro. Branham actually saw this. However, it can not be completely ruled out, so I leave open the possibility it is true. If he did make it up, is it more of a false story than that one told by Elisha in 2 Kings 6:13-14? Bro. Branham no doubt intended good to come by his false story, just as Elisha did. I do argue that this ok or acceptable. If fact, I think we seem to agree that this is not an acceptable behavior for a believer. But the ultimate question is if these things negate his calling and message. In my opinion, and in the opinion of those in fellowship with us, these things do not negate the message or the calling on him. If we use this same rationale, then we also have to say Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist were equally false, because they had the same failings. We know more about Bro. Branham because we witnessed him ourselves. Whereas we only know about Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist by the scripture. Why would these personal failings of those been be recorded in the bible if they were false? And if the bible makes a point to record them for each man, then there is a important to us knowing it.
Certainly, the message can be judged by its messenger. But we have to look at the whole picture of the messenger when we consider him. I know through your website you do not accept that there were before-the-fact prophesies and you seem skeptical whether or not there was a large number of miracles, but in the eyes of many people like me who were first hand witnesses to these things and known personally hundreds of witnesses and healed people, and plenty of little things here and there he fore-told, I cannot dismiss those things as easily as you do. There must be a scriptural way to reconcile what happened. How can we explain all the wonderful things that happened, yet also so visibly see these personally failings?
The idolaters reconcile it by pretending they cannot see the personal failings and condemning you for bringing them up - so they only see the wonderful. You reconcile it by generally assuming the wonderful things must have not been so true - so you only see the negative. I see and accept both parts, as do the many fellowships who split from the tabernacle early on after Bro. Branham's death. I reconcile it by finding that wonderful things were done by other men with Elijah anointing who also had personal failings. I do not swallow the personal failings and try to convince you that something wrong is of God. But those personal failings do not mean he was a false prophet.
You ask "At what point in time does exaggeration become dishonesty?" I would say almost all exaggeration is dishonesty in the most basic sense. But if I am required by the scripture to accept Elijah despite his exaggerations, and Elisha despite his false story, and John the Baptist despite his inconsistencies, why can I not do the same for Bro. Branham? Elijah was wrong to exaggerate. Elisha was wrong to make up stories. John the Baptist was wrong to be inconsistent. None of that was right. None of it is right for Bro. Branham either. But they were all still true called prophets with a message and a purpose.
What I am hoping to show you, is that the rationale you using in these recent questions to disqualify Bro. Branham as a true prophet would also disqualify the other men of the Elijah anointing. My intention is not to defend inappropriate behavior in anyone, including prophets.