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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Banner

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an ensign, or standard, used by armies or caravans on their journeys in the eastern countries. The original רגל , is rendered by lexicographers and translators under this word, as a noun, in which form it often occurs, a standard, banner; as a verb, once, to set up a banner; Psalms 20:5; as a participle pahul, vexillatus, one distinguished by a banner, the chief; as a participle niphal, bannered, or with banners. The meaning of the root is illustrated by the very ingenious and sensible author of "Observations on Divers Passages of Scripture," who shows, from Pitts and Pococke, that, "as in Arabia and the neighbouring countries, on account of the intense heat of the sun by day, people generally choose to travel in the night; so, to prevent confusion in their large caravans, particularly in the annual one to Mecca, each company, of which the caravan consists, has its distinct portable beacon, which is carried on the top of a pole, and consists of several lights, which are somewhat like iron stoves, into which they put short dry wood, with which some of the camels are loaded. Every company has one of these poles belonging to it; some of which have ten, some twelve of these lights on their tops, more or less; and they are likewise of different figures, as well as numbers; one, perhaps, in an oval shape; another, triangular, or in the form of an M, or N, &c, so that by these every one knows his respective company. They are carried in the front, and set up in the place where the caravan is to pitch, before that comes up, at some distance from one another. As travelling then in the night must be, generally speaking, more agreeable to a great multitude in that desert, we may believe a compassionate God, for the most part, directed Israel to move in the night. And in consequence, must we not rather suppose the standards of the tribes were moveable beacons, like those of the Mecca pilgrims, than flags or any thing of that kind?" This ingenious author seems, however, to forget,

1. That the pillar of fire was with the Israelites to direct their marches.

2. That the Israelites were not a mere caravan, but an army; and, as such, for order, required standards as well by day as by night. See ARMIES .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Banner'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/b/banner.html. 1831-2.

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