Going Deeper

When I first read that JehovahNissi means “The LORD is our Banner” I assumed it meant a banner like a flag. The twelve tribes of Israel moved through the wilderness following this kind of banner (sometimes called a standard) that identified each tribe. I thought JehovahNissi related to a banner like that. Or maybe it was connected somehow to the old familiar Sunday school song, “His Banner Over Me is Love.” But those banners are not the same as a nec. In the Hebrew Scriptures there are two different words that are translated into the English word banner. The banner referring to an identifying standard like a flag or a banner of love is from the Hebrew word degel (Strong’s H1714). The word that we are exploring in this study is nec (Strong’s H5251).

Log into
Blue Letter Bible.
Click on the STUDY tab at the top of the page.
Under BIBLE REFERENCE click on Topical Indexes.
Under GENERAL INDEXES click on "The Names of God in the Old Testament."
Click on Jehovah Nissi.

What is the Strong’s reference number for JehovahNissi?__________________

Cllck on the blue
H3071 to go to the Strong’s reference page. Listen to how this name is pronounced.

Do you notice that JehovahNissi is actually one word and is found only once in the Old Testament? Under “Root Word” you can see the two words that combine to form JehovahNissi. The first one is
H3068, the Hebrew word for YHWH. The second part of the word is derived from H5251, nec. In JehovahNIssi the root word, nec, has a suffix added to it that makes it a personal pronoun. It is like adding the word “my” to nec. JehovahNissi is “YHWH my nec.” Click on H5251. Listen to how nec is pronounced. You can see how this word is translated in the Old Testament and click open the lexicon for further definitions.

Scoll down to see the other places in Scripture where nec is used. It occurs 20 times in the Old Testament. Even though it is not always associated with a name for God, when we see how the word is used in context, it broadens our understanding of the word and gives us a fuller picture of what it means to know God as JehovahNissi.

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We will look more closely at the use of the word nec in Numbers 21 in
The Snake Story. Jesus referred to the Snake story when he spoke to Nicodemas about the cross in John 3.

How do we know that news of what God did in Egypt was spreading beyond the borders of Egypt?

Exodus 18:1. What had Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, heard about the Israelites?

Jethro lived in Midian. Locate Midian on the map below and notice where it is in relationship to Egypt.

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Read what Josephus wrote in
The Antiquities of the Jews, book 3, chapter 2: This was prior to the Amalekite attack on Israel:
“The name of the Hebrews began already to be everywhere renowned, and rumors about them ran abroad. This made the inhabitants of those countries to be in no small fear.”

The reputation of the power and protection of the God of Israel continued to gain momentum; it could not be extinguished.

After the tragedy of the 10 plagues, you would think that Pharaoh would have said good riddance to the Israelites and Moses and Aaron and their God. But God was not done with Pharaoh's story. What compelled Phaoraoh to pursue Israel? Read
Exodus 3:18 and 5:3. Pharaoh believed that he had let the Hebrews go on a 3-day excursion to offer sacrifices to YHWH. When he and his advisors realized that the Hebrew slaves were not coming back they couldn’t believe it. They had just lost a ton of free labor. In a delusional act of arrogance, rather than mourning the death of his first-born son or allowing his soldiers to grieve their own tragic losses, Pharaoh summoned his horsemen and troops and chariots and led his army out to pursue the Israelites who were camped by the Red Sea.

The Israelites arrived at Rephidim 2 ½-3 months since they had seen Pharaoh and his army perish in the Red Sea. Are you wondering how we know that?

Exodus 16:1. When did Israel get to the Desert of Sin? ____________________________

Exodus 19:1. When did Israel get to the Desert of Sinai? __________________________

So the story in chapter 17 occurs somewhere in between that, 2½ -3 months after leaving Egypt. Moses hadn’t even gone up on Mount Sinai to get the law yet. The post-Egypt plan was not at all laid out for the Israelites and the uncertainty of the dessert was deflating their hope.

Rephidim was really in the middle of nowhere. Do you see it between the Desert of Sin and Mount Sinai?

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 gives us more information about the Amalekite attack. How does Moses describe Israel’s physical stamina when the Amalekites attacked? ___________________________

Who did the Amalekites go after? ________________________________

God was with Israel. But the “with God” life does not guarantee a trouble free existence. When Israel was worn out and tired the enemy, who did not fear God, snuck up from behind and attacked where they were the weakest. God was there the whole time. Bad things happen when God is right there.

So if God could have defeated the enemy, why didn’t He? Or better yet, why didn’t He just reroute them? Why did He allow them to attack when Israel was not ready?

Maybe because God wanted to be JehovahNissi for Israel. Who needs an ensign when everything is easy? Who remembers to trust God when all that happens is already on our calendars?

Sometimes God allows us to get to the end of ourselves - so that there is nothing left for us to do but turn whole situations over to Him. When we can’t muster the strength to figure out a solution we wearily find ourselves on our knees. Which in the end is the safest place to be anyway. How is it for you? Is God leading you to a place of deeper trust? Does knowing what He has done for you in the past give you the courage to trust Him for today?


For more information on ancient Egyptian ensigns and ensigns in the Bible download the free ebook version of Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 3 By John McClintock, James Strong and see pages 231-232.

Project Gutenberg has made available a free online copy of The Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus. Moses’ war with the Ethiopians is recorded in Book 2, chapter 10.

The Snake Story