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Home » knowledge Centre » Hebrew & other Jewish language » The Hebrew Alphabet

The Hebrew alphabet is dubbed the alefbet in Hebrew due to the fact that of the first two letters, alef and bet. The Hebrew language, uneven English, is created from best to left, no left come right.

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It is no accident the the Hebrew word ‘alef-bet‘ sound so comparable to the English ‘alphabet’. The ancient Hebrew alphabet had close affinity to the Phoenician alphabet, i m sorry the ancient Greeks also used as the communication of their alphabet. The an initial two letter of the Hebrew and old Phoenician alphabet to be aleph and also bet, which in the old Greek alphabet were renamed alpha and beta, name which ultimately gave rise to the English native alphabet.

Orthodox Jews, however, check out God’s hand in the distinctive form of Hebrew. They feel God created the civilization through the Hebrew language and alphabet. They think its letters must because of this predate various other scripts.

The Hebrew alphabet occurred over time, and also may have actually resembled early Aramaic. Eventually, approximately the 2nd century B.C.E., Jews embraced Ashuri (Assyrian) square letters. Thus contemporary readers that Hebrew can quickly make out the indigenous of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which to be written around that time.

There space 22 basic letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and five special last forms (for the letters kaf, mem, nun, peh and also tzade). Some letters space hardened by the insertion of a period (vet becomes bet, khaf i do not care kaf).

The letters of the Hebrew alphabet, their names, and also English letters through an indistinguishable pronunciationNOTE: Hebrew reads from appropriate to left (unlike English), therefore the very first letter is alef and also the last letter is tav

All letters space consonants, though the yud and also vav are additionally used as vowels. Little points (nekudot) over or listed below letters tell reader what collection to use. This are greatly used in the Tanach and also in the siddur (prayer book).

The square Hebrew letters have remained remarkably consistent since their origin. It is as basic to review Hebrew papers from ancient Yemen or medieval Germany, as it is to review the Israeli everyday newspaper, “Ha’aretz”. The said, there are other scripts in usage. Soferim (expert scribes) rental a one-of-a-kind writing style known as sta’m in Torah scrolls, mezuzot  and also tefillin (phylacteries). This letters’ upper points have crown-like decorations. In addition, extra markings above and below the words suggest the trop, or track for recitation. Talmudic commentaries rental the distinctive semi-cursive Rashi script (named ~ the renowned rabbi). Once writing through hand, Hebrew is written in a kind of the alefbet known as cursive (see our page ‘Overview of the Hebrew Alphabet‘ to to compare this v the square or block personalities normally supplied when not creating by hand).

The Hebrew alphabet is not only provided for Hebrew. All types of Jewish languages use its lettering system, no matter their linguistic origins. Language written utilizing the Hebrew alphabet incorporate Germanic Yiddish and also Romantic Ladino (both Indo-European tongues), Aramaic and Judaeo-Arabic.

One disadvantage of Hebrew contrasted to its Semitic cousin, Arabic, is that even Hebrew cursive personalities cannot connect up. All the letters continue to be separate, making it tough to write really fast. However, Jews discovered that this problem turned right into a advantage with the come of Hebrew printing. Suddenly, the Hebrew alphabet confirmed uniquely well suited to this new technology.

For year Jews lacked a different number system, and also instead offered letters to denote numbers. Substituting numbers for letters led in turn to gematria, a method of deriving mystical insights right into and new interpretations of divine texts.

The Hebrew alphabet is an amazingly adaptable mechanism for send thought. Much more than that, the still inspires wonderful calligraphy, and there is an entire folklore devoted to explaining the spiritual definition of each letter.

Letters and sounds the the alefbet

Alef – silentBet – BVet – VGimmel – GDalet – DHey – HVav – VZayin – ZChet – Ch (as in ch when one removes the throat or the Scottish native loch, not as in chair)Tet – TYud – YKaf – KChaf – Ch (same as for chet, above)Lamed – LMem – MNun – NSamech – SAyin – silentPeh – PFeh – FTzade- TsKoof – KResh – RShin – shSin – STaf – T

Some the these letters have various versions used if they appear at the end of a word, such together kaf, mem, nun, peh and also tzade. Once each that these room written in ~ the end of a word, castle are called sofit (meaning ‘final’). So, we have actually kaf sofit (final kaf), mem sofit (final mem), nun sofit (final nun), peh sofit (final peh) and tzade sofit (final tzade). In each of these letters, through the exemption of mem sofit, the letters have a lengthy tail.


People who speak Hebrew fluently perform not need vowels come read. However, those who room not fluent need vowels: a device of dots and dashes referred to as nekudot (points) was emerged to guide readers regarding which vowels to include in between the consonants. The dots or dashes space written one of two people above, below or inside the letter.

A dagesh is the name given to the dot that sometimes shows up inside a letter for grammatical reasons (the dagesh affects the pronunciation of some letters yet not of others). Through the letter bet, kaf and peh, the dagesh tells us that these letters should be claimed with their hard sounds, for example: bet with a dagesh is pronounced vet; kaf without a dagesh is pronounced chaf; peh there is no a dagesh is pronounced feh. Taf likewise has a soft sound in Ashkenazi pronunciation, therefore it is pronounced as ‘s’ by Ashkenazi Jews when there is no dagesh present.

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Vav, generally a consonant pronounced together a ‘v’ is periodically a collection pronounced ‘oo’ (u) or ‘oh’ (o). When it is express ‘oo’, pointed texts (i.e. Messages in i m sorry the vowels space written) have a dot next to it (not to it is in mistaken because that a dagesh). Once it is pronounced ‘oh’, spicy texts have actually a period on top. (And just to make points really challenging, occasionally the letter vav deserve to take a dagesh, in which instance it is tho pronounced choose the English letter ‘v’ – this looks similar to once it is express ‘oo’, for this reason you have to work out just how to pronounce the letter from the context). Shin is pronounced ‘sh’ when it has a period over the best branch and also ‘s’ as soon as it has a dot over the left branch.