And it came to pass after these things, that God proved Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham;” and he said, “Here I am.” Gen 22:1
The primitive root
Strong’s H5254 נסה nacah, a primitive root, “to prove, to test, to try.” The ancient pictographs are nun + sin + hey.
nun נ, ן = the seed, thus continue, heir, son
sin ס = the thorn, thus grab, hate, protect
hey ה = man with upraised arms, thus look, reveal, wonder, worship, breath
The story the pictographs are telling is of continuing (nun) to grab hold (sin) and lift up (hey, as the upraised arms are lifted up). The verbal root of this whole family of words is “to lift up;” the concrete noun is “a standard,” the banner, which is carried into battle with the tribal or national leaders. As long as the battle rages, the banner is continually held aloft to indicate to near and far that this party in the conflict has not been defeated. The abstract concept then, is “refuge,” as the place to which one retreats to come under the protection of the head or king. The idea of proving comes from a test which was often undertaken to see if someone was worthy to be lifted to a higher position or rank. We still have this idea in our modern society. Children must pass a test to advance to a higher grade; apprentices must pass requirements of skill or ability in order to advance to journeymen, and employees must prove themselves worth promoting in order to be “lifted up.”