BANNER , a recognized symbol shared by a large group of people: a family, tribe, military unit, or nation. In the Bible, banner is denoted by the word nes. Although scholars differ concerning the exact meaning of another term, degel, this term apparently designates a military unit (perhaps originally the emblem of the group). The nes was composed of two parts: a long pole with a symbol, the ʾot, carved or drawn on it. Isaiah 30:17 gives a clear description of the pole: "Till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal [nes] on a hill." Numbers 21:8 distinguished the nes from the symbol that it bears: "Make a seraf [fiery] figure and mount it on a standard [nes]…" The nes (and the ʾot which was on it) was positioned so that the community to whom it belonged could see it from a distance and converge around it. During the period of Israel's wandering in the desert, the special design of each tribe's nes and ʾot enabled each of them to recognize and gather around its own standard and unit (Num. 2:2). The motif drawn on the ʾot was apparently related to the tradition of the community, or was significantly associated with it, in a manner similar to the totem in use among certain present-day tribal societies. The term nes is also used symbolically in the Bible to denote a sign which can be seen from a distance and can serve as a summons not only for a tribe or the nation of Israel but also for the entire world (Isa. 5:26). When the people of Israel went into exile, this concept came to be the symbol for the gathering of the exiles scattered over the face of the earth, and for the redemption of Israel in general (Jer. 4:6). The verb derived from this noun, nss, serves as a metaphoric description for divine inspiration in the soul of man (Isa. 59:19). With a meaning closer to that of the word nẓẓ, this verb also describes the landscape in which precious stones are scattered (Zech. 9:16). Many Egyptian monuments from all periods depict standards or flags attached to poles which are carried by men. The symbols which appear on these standards or flags include illustrations of gods, cartouches, and other religious symbols. Some of the standards consist of a shield of metal or some other material mounted on a pole, with a group of ribbons attached to the join of the symbol and pole. Two different types of standards are depicted on Assyrian monuments from Nineveh. The first type, consisting of a pole bearing a ring to which streamers were attached, was placed on the side of a chariot, toward the rear, in a special place designated for it. The second, consisting of a pole with an opening at the top into which the symbol, probably of metal, was inserted, was carried by the charioteer. There are two recurring symbols on these monuments: one depicts two animals, and the other, a king or god standing on a bull. As is the case with other practical objects, these banners also served ritual needs. This type of ritual banner was found at Hazor (Stratum ib). It consists of a silver-coated bronze tablet of approximately 4 in. (10 cm.). The snake goddess, surrounded by various other symbols, is depicted on it in relief. The base of the banner from Hazor was designed to be joined to the top of a pole as were the large banners.
N. De G. Davies, The Rock Tombs of El-Amarna, 1 (1903), pls. xv, xx, 2 (1905), pl. xvii; J.G. Wilkinson, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, 1 (1878), 195; A.H. Layard, The Monuments of Nineveh, 1 (1853), pls. 10, 11, 19, 22, 27; Y. Yadin et al. (eds.), Hazor, 2 (1959), 109–110; Y. Aharoni, in: Qadmoniot, 1 (1968), 101.
ban·ner / ˈbanər/ • n. 1. a long strip of cloth bearing a slogan or design, hung in a public place or carried in a demonstration or procession: a banner in the front window announced “Grand Reopening.” ∎ a flag on a pole used as the standard of a monarch, army, or knight. ∎ fig. an idea or principle used to rally public opinion: the administration is flying the free trade banner. 2. (also banner ad) an advertisement appearing across the top of a web page: to get a new banner now, click Step 1. • adj. excellent; outstanding: I predict that 1998 will be a banner year. DERIVATIVES: ban·nered adj.