Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Ensign for the Nations I

The magazine, The Ensign, gets its name from Isaiah 11:12:
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (KJV)
The translation is adequate. One might quibble that nasa' really means to lift up and so it should be something like "he shall lift up an ensign for the nations." The point, however, seems small. One might also complain that nes as ensign is archaic and that standard or flag might be more current, although flag might be somewhat anachronistic.

The Septuagint, however, translates nes with σημεῖον which is a sign or miracle. This is a very different reading.

As it turns out, this idea is not unknown to Hebrew. The saying on the dreidel is nes gadol hayah šam "A great miracle happened there." So the Hebrew term nes easily encompasses the idea of a miracle.

The idea of lifting up a miracle to the nations as part of the gathering figures into the discussion in 3 Nephi 21 where the Book of Mormon is a sign for the gathering of Israel.

There is another interpretation from this text that I will save for next week.