🔼The name YHWH-nesi: Summary
- YHWH Of Formation, YHWH Of Purification
- From (1) יהוה (yhwh), the name of the Lord, and (2) the verb נסס (nasas), which describes the metallurgic process.
🔼The name YHWH-nesi in the Bible
The name YHWH-nesi occurs only once in the Bible, but the two most popular modern translations (NAS and NIV) choose to translate it (as The Lord Is My Banner), whereas the KJV speaks of Jehovahnissi, the ASV, Darby and Young versions have Jehovah-nissi, and the JSP reads Adonai-nissi.
Our name belongs to an altar which Moses built after Israel's miraculous defeat of Amalek at Rephidim (Exodus 17:15). While Israel fought Amalek, Moses stood on a mountain with the staff of God in his hand (whatever that was). If he held his hand up, then Israel was winning, but when he lowered his hand, Amalek won. And so Moses held his hand up, and Aaron and Hur supported him on either side.
Note that YHWH commanded Moses to write about the battle in a book and recite it to Joshua (who was right there, serving as military commander) as a memorial. Right after the Lord said this, Moses built the altar and named it יהוה נסי, and said: "YHWH will have war against Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus 17:16).
Also note that an altar was not simply a heap of stones but had a very significant meaning. Read our article on the word מזבח (mizbeah) meaning altar for the details.
🔼Etymology of the name YHWH-nesi
The name YHWH-nesi starts out with YHWH, which is the Name of the Lord; please see our article on that Name for its meaning and etymology. The second part of our name comes from the noun נס (nes), meaning banner (or rather: a social attractor around which a fluidic people may gather and solidify into a nation), which derives from the verb נסס (nasas):
Verb נסס (nasas) is the parent verb of a vast array of words that all derive from metallurgy: (1) Impure ore is collected, heated up and smelted; (2) Impurities float up, are skimmed off and cast out; (3) The pure metal is collected, cooled off and congealed into usable ingots or mixed to produce alloys that are stronger than any individual metal.
Before religion became demagogic and science broke away from it, all theology focused on practical technology and natural science, and the purpose of all theology was to produce stronger peoples. The hotter engineers could make their fire, the purer they could make their metals, the stronger their weapons and tools would be and hence the more successful the people were.
Noun נס (nes) denotes a rallying banner or flag; an item to which a liquefied army (riled up soldiers in the disarray of battle) can congeal back into formation.
Verb נסה (nasa) means to try or put to the test: to subject something to activities that will demonstrate its qualities and range of abilities. Derived noun מסה (massah) means test or trial. This noun is identical to noun מסה (massa), a melting, derived from the verb מסס (masas), to melt.
Verb מאס (ma'as) means to reject or despise; the fate of slag and dross.
The letter י (yod) with which our noun נס (nes) is post-fixed either forms a possessive form or an adjective (which is also a kind of possessive).
The name YHWH-nesi is usually translated as The Lord Is My Banner, but that makes for a very odd if not a downright heretic image; something that could easily be tied to a statue or effigy. Instead, our name was probably meant to convey the desire of the Lord of Life to organize people into a living social structure, centralized around a code the way one living body is centralized around DNA.
If we consider the nesi-part to be an adjective, our name would rather translate as YHWH Of Rallying or YHWH Of Formation.
Note that this name reverberates with the much misapplied statement that God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27). Mankind was made from the earth the way precious metal is smelted out of ore; then humanity was cast into a mold that resembled YHWH, and became a social collective.
Also note that Moses drew water from the rock at Massah, which is related to our name YHWH-nesi, and which was also located at Rephidim.