THE UNION JACK
Douglas C. Nesbit (The Prophetic Expositor)
OUR ongoing series of Bible studies, which started several years ago with the call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us through successive Scripture passages following the tribal history of God’s people as Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob (re-named Israel), became patriarchs of the tribal nation of Israel. They moved down into Egypt, then suffered bondage there, from which The Almighty God drew them forth with great wealth, through the miracles of the Exodus. They have, more recently, formed a tribal encampment under the guidance of The Almighty God Himself, and under the supervision of God’s prophet Moses.
Several weeks ago, we were discussing the various symbols on the tribal banners, validated prophetically by Jacob, and I made some further references to the matter of the Union Jack, which now represents a gathering in today’s world of a number of the descendants of those ancient Israelites of the wilderness encampments described in the Bible. We, of the British Israel-World Federation hold that the main bodies of the modern-day descendants of those Israelite clans now form the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of today. These are seen primarily in the British, and their relatives in Holland, Scandinavia, France, those mainly of northern and western Europe, and those descendants of them in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.A. and other areas now similarly inhabited. We do not forget the fact that many also of their relatives were left in significant pockets along the braided migratory routes by which these people moved from their Assyrian captivity and deportation to their homes in these new areas. Thus some people of Russian and Ukrainian background, and of Polish, Germanic, Italian, north Spanish and Portuguese, those of Switzerland, and others of central Europe, are by no means excluded from the list.
The flag, known as the Union Jack, formed in Great Britain, of the Jacks representing a strong concentration of these peoples has been described, most appropriately, as representing a “Union of Jacob”, and thus it has become a point of attack by some who would deny the identification of ourselves with ancient Israel.
I recently learned of one such thrust, a twenty-page attack on our thesis on the internet, and I have also received some letters from interested persons who want further information on the matter. This I hope to supply, at least in part, today.
I had mentioned that Union Jacks flown at the top of the rigging on old sailing ships, hoisted, as mentioned by Chamber’s Twentieth Century Dictionary, at the spritsail topmast-head, and flown amidst such articles as “Jack-blocks” and the “Jack cross-trees” were reached by a “Jacob’s Ladder”, a rope ladder having wooden steps. A flag thus positioned would be at the top of Jacob’s Ladder, and symbolically occupy the position from which The Almighty, in a vision, gave Jacob the remarkable promises of Genesis 28:12-15. The 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 16, item “ladder”; the Oxford illustrated Dictionary,. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Vol.1; The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary and three etymological dictionaries all confirm the use of the name Jacob’s Ladder to reach such rigging. However, such “Jack” flags are also used at the bowsprit of a vessel, held aloft on a Jack-staff, and according to some sources like The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the source from which the name “Jack” arose was from its size, being smaller than the ensign. Reading this, one might assume that this provides grist to the mills of our detractors. Is this true? Let us follow the trail of investigation further.
Pursuing the matter, I consulted “History of the Union Jack - How It Grew and What It Is”, by Barlow Cumberland, M.A., printed by William Briggs, Toronto, in 1900. That authority states “The origin of the name ‘Union Jack’ has given rise to considerable conjecture and much interesting surmise. The name used in most of the earlier records is that of ‘Union Flag’, or ‘Great Union.’ In the treaty of peace made with the Dutch in 1674, in the reign of Charles II., it is mentioned as ‘His Majesty of Great Britain’s flag or Jack,’ and in the proclamation of Queen Anne, A.D. 1707, as ‘Our Jack, commonly called the Union Jack.’ The most generally quoted suggestion for the name is that it was acquired from the fact that the first proclamation which authorized a flag, in which the national crosses of England and Scotland were for the first time combined, was issued by James VI. of Scotland after he had become James 1 of England, the explanation being that King James frequently signed his name in the French manner as ‘Jacques,’ which was abbreviated into ‘Jac,’ and thus the new flag came to be called a ‘Jack.’
Pointing out that the derivation suggested, while “ingenious”, cannot be accepted as “there were ‘Jacks’ long before the time and reign of James I’ the author presents information concerning feudal companies which wore the heraldry of their liege lord and military companies which wore such, marking their allegiance to a king. During the Crusades, which were military expeditions “under the banner of the cross to recover the Holy Land” (the Chambers’ Twentieth Century Dictionary definition), the Christian nations of Europe were combined together to rescue Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the rule of the Mohammedan. Cumberland continues: “Warrior pilgrims recruited from the different countries, wore crosses of different shapes and colours upon their surcoats, to indicate the nationalities to which they belonged.” From wearing these crosses they were named Crusaders. For example, French wore red crosses, Flanders green, Germany black and Italy yellow Earlier, the English wore white, but later changed to the red cross of St George.
“These ‘surcoats’ or ‘Jacques’ came in time to be known as ‘Jacks’ ... and it was from the raising of one of them upon a lance or staff at the bow of a ship ... that the cross of St George, or the cross of St Andrew, came to be known as a ‘Jack,’ and from this origin, too, the small flag-pole at the bow of a ship is still called ‘Jack staff. ‘ “
That makes the case for our opponents, one might imagine. Cumberland is quite a recognized authority. But wait a moment, there is yet one thread of inquiry to be pursued before we wrap the matter up! Let us pursue it.
Those Christian nations of Europe were, in the main, generally composed of the descendants of the Tribes of Israel of old time. From what source, then, did they derive that name, Jacque? Let us consult some dictionaries. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, while noting its use as a pet name for John, adds “the resemblance to F. Jacques James (:-Rom. *Ja-cobus, for L. Jaco-bus Jacob) is a difficulty.” That looks interesting. Let us consult some other dictionaries. An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English by Ernest Weekley, Vol. 1 states “jack. Personal name used in E. as pet-form of John, via Jankin, Jackin, but also representing F. Jacques, L. Jacobus (see Jacob).” That name “Jacob” keeps circling about in the background. Perhaps it is shown most clearly in “Origin - A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English “, by Eric Partridge. That reference is straight forward and quite clear. It states “Jack, the very common pet-form of John, the world’s commonest font-name. Jack, although used for John, derives from OF Jaques (F. Jacques), James, ML Jacobus, LL Iacobus, LGr Iakobos, H Ya’aqobh, lit ‘supplanter’.” So the name does derive from the Patriarch, Jacob, after all! It always pays to pursue a matter through to the end. It has been truly said, that “The game’s not over until ‘It’s over’.” Here we find that the name of the Patriarch Jacob lies, in the historic background beyond every diversionary attempt by opponents to obscure the origin of the name of our “Union Jack” in Jacob!
No wonder that King James VI Of Scotland and I of Great Britain at this signed his name as “Jacques”, abbreviated to “Jac”. He well knew that this was a form of the name “Jacob”. He well knew the origin of both Scottish people from whom he had come, and that of the English. The Arbroath Declaration had been signed and sealed by the Scottish Parliament under Robert the Bruce in April, 1320 A.D., and in it they told the Pope that the Scottish people came from “the Greater Scythia” and entered Scotland, completely destroying the Picts, twelve hundred years after the outgoing of the people of Israel. According to “The Story Of The Irish Race” by Seumas McManus, the Scots did this about 500 A.D., and Mr. W H. Bennett, in “Symbols of our Celto-Saxon Heritage” also gives “about 500” as the date of this effective invasion of Scotland. This means that the Scottish barons under the leadership of Robert the Bruce were relating their origins to the emergence of Israelites, at a date of about 700 B.C. This agrees with our knowledge of the deportations of most of the tribesmen of Israel effectively completed by Assyria in 721 B.C., which was soon followed by the break-up of the Assyrian Empire itself a few years later and the release and flight of the Israelite captives at that time.
The Royal Genealogy of Elizabeth I, of England, was linked to that of the Davidic monarchy of the Bible, and it is displayed at Hatfield House in England. Her leading admiral, Sir Francis Drake, knew of England’s identity with Israel for he mentions the name of “Israel” casually in place of the name “England” without feeling the need for any explanation in a letter written to John Foxe the writer of “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” It is now preserved as Manuscript 167, part of folio 104 of the Harleian manuscripts, British Library, The British Museum.
Thus, we have sustained our assurance in making reference to the Union Jack as a symbol for the Union of Jacob.
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