ensign Summary and Overview
ensign in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Heb. 'oth, a military standard, especially of a single tribe (Num. 2:2). Each separate tribe had its own "sign" or "ensign." (2.) Heb. nes, a lofty signal, as a column or high pole (Num. 21:8, 9); a standard or signal or flag placed on high mountains to point out to the people a place of rendezvous on the irruption of an enemy (Isa. 5:26; 11:12; 18:3; 62:10; Jer. 4:6, 21; Ps. 60:4). This was an occasional signal, and not a military standard. Elevation and conspicuity are implied in the word. (3.) The Hebrew word "degel" denotes the standard given to each of the four divisions of the host of the Israelites at the Exodus (Num. 1:52; 2:2; 10:14). In Cant. 2:4 it is rendered "banner." We have no definite information as to the nature of these military standards. (See BANNER T0000433.)
ensign in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(nes; in the Authorized Version generally "ensign," sometimes "standard;" degel, "standard," with the exception of #So 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, #Isa 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. 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.
ensign in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
EN'SIGN . See Banners. ENSUE' means, in 1 Pet 3:11, "to follow after and overtake."