The English word ensign is derived from a French word meaning a sign. The term was originally used primarily for military identification items ranging from badges (a modern-day example is shown below) to banners and signal flags. An ensign, or ensign-bearer, was also sometimes used as a term for someone who carried, or who was responsible for, a flag or banner. The word "ensign" is used to translate two Hebrew words of the Scriptures (pronounced) oth, meaning a signal, or beacon, and nace meaning a flag or signal. During Bible History, the tribes of Israel had their own ensigns. No record of their appearance survives, or perhaps more appropriately, has yet been found. Whether any ancient artifacts of them are found is irrelevant to their return however - Prophecy plainly says that tribal ensigns will again be known among the people of Israel, and of all the world.
After the Exodus, during the 40-year Wilderness Journey (that was intended to have taken days, not years - see A Journey Without A Destination), the tribes of Israel encamped around The Tabernacle, each under their own standard, an ensign on a pole.
"And The Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Every man of the children of Israel [see Children of Jacob] shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the Tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch." (Numbers 2:1-2 KJV)
After The Return Of Jesus Christ, The Lord will be an ensign, not just for The Gathering of Israel and Judah, and for all people of "Israel" (see Spiritual and Physical Gatherings):
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of The Lord, as the waters cover the sea." [see Scenes From The Millennium]
"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that The Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 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." (Isaiah 11:6-12 KJV)
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass ... And The Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land." (Zechariah 9:9,16 KJV)
Fact Finder: Who is the "daughter of Zion" described above?
See Daughter of Zion