You saw that which I did to Egypt; and I carried you on the wings of eagles and I brought you to MeExodus 19:4.

Why did the Almighty choose the imagery of an eagle to describe His love for and providence over us? After all, the eagle is not even a kosher bird.

G‑d chose the eagle to express His unconditional love for usRashi's comment is perhaps most famous. "All other birds carry their young in their talons, out of fear of a larger predator attacking them from behind and above. The eagle, however, fears no other bird, only man. For this reason it carries its young on its wings, reasoning that if it is attacked by arrows, it would suffer the injury, not their young. When the Egyptians attacked the Jews at the Red Sea, G‑d sent angels to situate themselves between the camp of Israel and the Egyptian camp, and the Divine clouds absorbed the missiles and arrows."

The Chiddushei HaRim (Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, 1798-1866, the first Rebbe of the Gur chassidic dynasty) interprets this idea homiletically. At the time of the splitting of the Red Sea, the angels complained to G‑d that they (the Egyptians) were idolaters and they (the Children of Israel) were idolaters. Why are You saving the latter and drowning the former?" questioned the ministering angels. G‑d answered, "Let the arrows pierce Me"; meaning, I am responsible for the answer to that question. I will justify why I have a special relationship with the seed of Abraham.

While Rashi's interpretation stresses G‑d's love and protection, the Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762-1839, famed rabbi of Pressburg, Slovakia) offers a view that focuses on the Children of Israel. The eagle possesses all four symbols of non-kosher animals.1 G‑d therefore chose the eagle to express His unconditional love for us, which extends to us even if we are mired in the depths of impurity. For this reason, the verse ends, "And I have brought you to Me."

I saw another answer worth repeating. Rabbi Mattis Blum2 cites a Talmudic passage3 which describes the cruelty of the yaaleh, the mountain goat. The Talmud relates that when the mountain goat prepares to give birth, it ascends to the top of a mountain so its offspring will fall and perish. G‑d sends an eagle which catches the baby mountain goat on its wing and returns it to its mother atop the mountain. "If My timing was off," argues G‑d, "the goat would die."4

Rabbi Blum understands the words, "and the Children of Israel could not tarry" (Exodus 12:39), mentioned in the context of the Exodus, as referring to a similar concept. The grand kabbalist the Arizal5 posits that G‑d managed His time perfectly at the Exodus. Had He waited a second longer, the Israelites would have descended to the 50th level of impurity, at which point they would have passed the point of no return, and could not have been redeemed. Had they left a second earlier, He would not have kept His word regarding the 400 years of exile. Rabbi Blum reasoned that G‑d had to time the Exodus perfectly, just as He times the eagle's rescue of the mountain goat—which explains why G‑d describes the Exodus as having carried us "on eagles' wings."

The G‑d of Love and the G‑d of Justice are one and the sameThese commentaries all teach us important lessons about our unique relationship with our Creator, both on individual and communal levels. Rashi demonstrates G‑d's physical protection of us. The Chatam Sofer and the Chiddushei HaRm describe G‑d's unqualified love for His beloved nation, and finally, Rabbi Blum's interpretation proves to us the miraculous nature of that unqualified love and Omnipotent protection.

Moses Nachmanides (1194-1270, eminent biblical commentator), citing Onkelos (1st century translator of the Bible), understands the latter part of the verse, "and I will bring you to Me," as referring to Sinai.

The revelation at Sinai represents the onset of the legal and ritual relationship between the Almighty and His special nation. G‑d tells us that we must never forget that the Commander, to whom we are responsible as Jews, is the same One who carries us on eagle's wings. There's no "good cop" and "bad cop." The G‑d of Love and the G‑d of Justice are one and the same. Every mitzvah – both the do's and the don'ts – finds its source from the same love, compassion and covenant that describes G‑d as our perfect benefactor. Our system of commandments bases itself on our relationship with the Commander, with whom we have a previous relationship. Our sages describe Sinai as the wedding between G‑d and the Jewish people. The custom of escorting bride and groom to the chupah with candles derives from the lightning "heard" at Sinai. The Talmudic suggestion6 that G‑d lifted Sinai over the head of the Jewish nation represents that marriage canopy, the chuppah under which their marriage was effected.

We must remember, as we begin the more legalistic parts of the Torah, that they must not be seen devoid of that eagle imagery. Civil law, which the Torah discusses immediately after describing the revelation at Sinai, stems from a Divine ethic, a G‑dly relationship, and a moral obligation based on the precedence of a loving relationship. For this reason, posit many commentaries, G‑d begins the Decalogue by describing Himself as the one who took us out of Egypt—reminding us of that bond, the loving eagle who swoops us up in the nick of time, who loves us without stipulation and who would rather suffer than inflict pain on us.