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English Bible Dictionary

Ensign

 

(nes ; in the Authorized Version generally "ensign," sometimes "standard;" degel, "standard," with the exception of (Song of Solomon 2:4) "banner;" oth, "ensign"). This distinction between these three Hebrew terms is sufficiently marked by their respective uses. Nes is a signal, and not a military standard. It is an occasional signal, which was exhibited on the top of a pole from a bare mountain-top, (Isaiah 13:2; 18:3) degel a military standard for a large division of an army; and oth the same for a small one. Neither of them, however, expresses the idea which "standard" conveys to our minds, viz. a flag, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The standards in use among the Hebrews probably resembled those of the Egyptians and Assyrians--a figure or device of some kind elevated on a pole; usually a sacred emblem, such as an animal, a boat, or the king's name.

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