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Hebrew alphabet

This article is mainly about Hebrew letters. For Hebrew diacritical marks, see niqqud (for the vowel points) and cantillation.

The Hebrew alphabet is a set of 22 letters used for writing the Hebrew language. It is has also been used in mildly adapted forms for writing several languages of the Jewish diaspora, most famously Yiddish, Ladino, and Judaeo-Arabic (for a full and detailed list, see Jewish languages).

Hebrew speakers call their alphabet the ʾālep̄-bṯ [alef-beit] (א ʾālep̄ and ב bṯ are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet). The number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, their order, their names, and their phonetic values are virtually identical to those of the Aramaic alphabet, as both Hebrews and Arameans borrowed the Phoenician alphabet for their uses during the end of the 2nd millennium BC.

The modern script used for writing Hebrew (usually called the Jewish script by scholars, and also traditionally known as the square script, or the Assyrian script), evolved during the 3rd century BC from the Aramaic script, which was used by Jews for writing Hebrew since the 6th century BC. Prior to that, Hebrew was written using the old Hebrew script, which evolved during the 9th century BC from the Phoenician script; the Samaritans still write Hebrew in a variant of this script for religious works (see Samaritan alphabet).

Contents

The ʾālep̄-bṯ

The Hebrew ʾālep̄-bṯ consists of the following letters (final forms below their normal counterparts):

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י
Alef Bet Gimel Dalet He Vav Zayin Het Tet Yod


כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת
ך ם ן ף ץ
Kaf Lamed Mem Nun Samekh Ayin Pe Tsadi Qof Resh Shin Tav


Description

Both the old Hebrew script and the modern Jewish script have only one case, but in the modern script some letters have special final forms used only at the end of a word. This is similar to the Arabic alphabet, although much simpler. The Hebrew alphabet is an abjad: vowels are normally not indicated. Where they are it is because a weak consonant such as א ʾālep̄, ה h, ו wāw, or י yḏ has combined with a previous vowel and become silent or by imitation of such cases in spelling of other forms.

To preserve the proper vowel sounds, scholars developed several different sets of diacritic symbols (points or נקדות nəquddṯ, nikkudot, nikkud). One of these, the Tiberian system eventually prevailed. Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, and his family for several generations, are credited for creating and maintaining the system. These points are normally used only for special purposes, such as Biblical books intended for study, in poetry, or when teaching the language to children. The Tiberian system also includes a set of cantillation marks used to indicate how scriptural passages should be chanted, and decorative "crowns" used only for Torah scrolls.

Hebrew letters may also be used as numbers; see the entry on Hebrew numerals. This use of letters as numbers is used in Qabbālāh (Jewish mysticism) in a practice known as gematria.

The ʾālep̄-bṯ by letter

The following section is a breakdown of each letter in the Hebrew alphabet, describing its written glyph or glyphs, its name or names, its Latin script transliteration values used in academic work, and its pronunciation in reconstructed historical forms and dialects using the International Phonetic Alphabet. If two glyphs are shown for a letter, then the left-most glyph is the Final form of the letter (or right-most glyph if your browser doesn't support right-to-left text layout).

א

  • Name
    • Academic
    • Unicode Standard: alef
    • Israeli: alef
    • Ashkenazi: alef, olef
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ʾ
      • Font-friendly: ’
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: '
    • Israeli: ' (unwritten in initial and final positions, though often not written at all)
  • Numerical Value: 1
  • Vowel Formations: , ệ, ậ, ,
  • Pronunciation

ב

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: bṯ, ḇṯ
      • Font-friendly: bth, bhth
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: bth, bhth
    • Unicode Standard: bet
    • Israeli: bet, vet
    • Ashkenazi: beis, veis
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: b, ḇ
      • Font-friendly: b, bh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: b, bh
    • Israeli: b, v
  • Numerical Value: 2
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ b, v ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ b, v~v̥ ]
      • Sephardi: [ b, b~β~v ]
      • Yemenite: [ b ]
      • Tiberian: [ b, v ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ b, β ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ b ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: b, v

ג

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: gmmel, ḡmel
      • Font-friendly: gmel, ghmel
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: gmel, ghmel
    • Unicode Standard: gimel
    • Israeli: gimel
    • Ashkenazi: gimmel
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: g, ḡ
      • Font-friendly: g, gh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: g, gh
    • Israeli: g
  • Numerical Value: 3
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ ɡ ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ ɡ~ɡ̊ ]
      • Sephardi: [ ɡ, ɡ~ɣ ]
      • Yemenite: [ dʒ , ɣ ]
      • Tiberian: [ ɡ, ɣ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ ɡ, ɣ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ ɡ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: g

ד

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: dā́leṯ, ḏā́leṯ
      • Font-friendly: dāleth, dhāleth
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: dleth, dhleth
    • Unicode Standard: dalet
    • Israeli: dalet
    • Ashkenazi: doles
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: d, ḏ
      • Font-friendly: d, dh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: d, dh
    • Israeli: d
  • Numerical Value: 4
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ d ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ d~d̥ ]
      • Sephardi: [ ~ ]
      • Yemenite: [ d̪, ]
      • Tiberian: [ d̪, ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ d̪, ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ d̪ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: d

ה

  • Name
    • Academic: h
      • Unicode: ??
      • Font-friendly: ??
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: ??
    • Unicode Standard: he
    • Israeli: he/hei/e/ei
    • Ashkenazi: hei
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: h, Ḏ
      • Font-friendly: ?
      • ISO-8859-1-firendly: ?, ??
    • Israeli: h (unwritten in final positions)
  • Numerical Value: 5
  • Vowel Formations: , ệ, ậ, ,
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ h~ʔ, - ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ h, - ]
      • Sephardi: [ h, - ]
      • Yemenite: [ h, - ]
      • Tiberian: [ h, - ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ h, - ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ h ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: h ~ ?

ו

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: wāw
      • Font-friendly: wāw
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: ww
    • Unicode Standard: vav
    • Israeli: vav
    • Ashkenazi: vov/vof
  • Transliteration
    • Academic: w
    • Israeli: v
  • Vowel Formations: ,
  • Numerical Value: 6
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ v ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ v~v̥ ]
      • Sephardi: [ v ]
      • Yemenite: [ w ]
      • Tiberian: [ w ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ w ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ w ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: v

ז

  • Name
    • Academic: zyin
    • Unicode Standard: zayin
    • Israeli: zayin
    • Ashkenazi: zayin
  • Transliteration: z
  • Numerical Value: 7
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ z ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ z~z̥ ]
      • Sephardi: [ z ]
      • Yemenite: [ z ]
      • Tiberian: [ z ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ z ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ dz ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: z

ח

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ḥṯ, (archaic) ḫṯ
      • Font-friendly: ħth, (archaic) xth
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: h`th, (archaic) xth
    • Unicode Standard: het
    • Israeli: chet
    • Ashkenazi: ches
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ḥ, (archaic) ḫ
      • Font-friendly: ħ, (archaic) x
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: h`, (archaic) x
    • Israeli: h (initial or after consonants), ch (everywhere else)
  • Numerical Value: 8
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ x~ħ ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ x ]
      • Sephardi: [ ħ ]
      • Yemenite: [ ħ ]
      • Tiberian: [ ħ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ ħ, x ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ ħ, x ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: x ~ X\

ט

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ṭṯ
      • Font-friendly: ţth
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: t`th
    • Unicode Standard: tet
    • Israeli: tet
    • Ashkenazi: tes
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ṭ
      • Font-friendly: ţ
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: t`
    • Israeli: t
  • Numerical Value: 9
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ t ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ t ]
      • Sephardi: [ ]
      • Yemenite: [ t̴̪ (velarized or pharyngealized) ]
      • Tiberian: [ t̴̪ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ t̪ˁ (pharyngealized) ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ t̪ʼ (ejective) ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: t

י

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: yḏ
      • Font-friendly: ydh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: ydh
    • Unicode Standard: yod
    • Israeli: yod/yud
    • Ashkenazi: yud
  • Transliteration
    • Academic: y
    • Israeli: y, i (in final positions or before consonants)
  • Vowel Formations: , , ệ
  • Numerical Value: 10
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ j ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ j ]
      • Sephardi: [ j ]
      • Yemenite: [ j ]
      • Tiberian: [ j ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ j ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ j ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: j

ך כ

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: kāp̄, ḵāp̄
      • Font-friendly: kāph, khāph
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: kph, khph
    • Unicode Standard: kaf
    • Israeli: kaf, chaf
    • Ashkenazi: kof, chof
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: k, ḵ
      • Font-friendly: k, kh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: k, kh
    • Israeli: k, ch
  • Numerical Value: 20
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ k, x ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ k, x ]
      • Sephardi: [ k, x ]
      • Yemenite: [ k, x ]
      • Tiberian: [ k, x ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ k, x ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ k ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: k, x

ל

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: lā́meḏ
      • Font-friendly: lāmedh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: lmedh
    • Unicode Standard: lamed
    • Israeli: lamed
    • Ashkenazi: lomed
  • Transliteration: l
  • Numerical Value: 30
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ l ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ l~ɫ ]
      • Sephardi: [ l ]
      • Yemenite: [ l ]
      • Tiberian: [ l ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ l ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ l ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: l

ם מ

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: mēm
      • Font-friendly: mēm
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: mm
    • Unicode Standard: mem
    • Israeli: mem
    • Ashkenazi: mem
  • Transliteration: m
  • Numerical Value: 40
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ m ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ m ]
      • Sephardi: [ m ]
      • Yemenite: [ m ]
      • Tiberian: [ m ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ m ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ m ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: m

ן נ

  • Name
    • Academic: nn
    • Unicode Standard: nun
    • Israeli: nun
    • Ashkenazi: nun
  • Transliteration: n
  • Numerical Value: 50
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ n ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ n ]
      • Sephardi: [ ]
      • Yemenite: [ n̪ ]
      • Tiberian: [ n̪ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ n̪ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ n̪ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: n

ס

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: sā́mekh
      • Font-friendly: sāmekh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: smekh
    • Unicode Standard: samekh
    • Israeli: samech
    • Ashkenazi: somech
  • Transliteration: s
  • Numerical Value: 60
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ s ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ s ]
      • Sephardi: [ s ]
      • Yemenite: [ s ]
      • Tiberian: [ s ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ s ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ ts ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: s

ע

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ʿyin, (archaic) ġyin
      • Font-friendly: ‘yin, (archaic) ġyin
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: `yin, (archaic) 3yin
    • Unicode Standard: ayin
    • Israeli: ayin
    • Ashkenazi: ayin
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ʿ, (archaic) ġ
      • Font-friendly: ‘, (archaic) ġ
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: `, (archaic) 3
    • Israeli: ' (often not written at all)
  • Numerical Value: 70
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ ʔ ~ ʕ, - ]
      • Ashkenazi: silent
      • Sephardi: [ ʕ, ŋ, - ]
      • Yemenite: [ ʕ ]
      • Tiberian: [ ʕ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ ʕ, ɣ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ ʕ, ɣ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: ? ~ ?\, -

ף פ

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: p, p̄
      • Font-friendly: p, ph
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: p, ph
    • Unicode Standard: pe
    • Israeli: pe/pei, fe/fei
    • Ashkenazi: pei, fei
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: p, p̄
      • Font-friendly: p, ph
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: p, ph
    • Israeli: p, f
  • Numerical Value: 80
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ p, f ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ p, f ]
      • Sephardi: [ p, f ]
      • Yemenite: [ f ]
      • Tiberian: [ p, f ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ p, ɸ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ p ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: p, f

ץ צ

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ṣāḏ
      • Font-friendly: şādh
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: s`dh
    • Unicode Standard: tsadi
    • Israeli: tzadi/tzadik
    • Ashkenazi: tsodi/tsodik
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: ṣ
      • Font-friendly: ş
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: s`
    • Israeli: tz/ts/z
  • Numerical Value: 90
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ t͡s ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ t͡s ]
      • Sephardi: [ t͡s ]
      • Yemenite: [ (velarized or pharyngealized) ]
      • Tiberian: [ s̴ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ sˁ (pharyngealized) ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ t͡sʼ, t͡ʃʼ , t͡ɬʼ (ejectives) ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: ts

ק

  • Name
    • Academic: qph
    • Unicode Standard: qof
    • Israeli: kof/kuf
    • Ashkenazi: kuf
  • Transliteration
    • Academic: q
    • Israeli: k
  • Numerical Value: 100
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ k ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ k ]
      • Sephardi: [ k ]
      • Yemenite: [ ɡ ]
      • Tiberian: [ q ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ q ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ kʼ (ejective) ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: k

ר

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: rš
      • Font-friendly: rš
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: rsh
    • Unicode Standard: resh
    • Israeli: resh/reish
    • Ashkenazi: reish
  • Transliteration: r
  • Numerical Value: 200
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ ʁ ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ ʀ ]
      • Sephardi: [ r~ɾ ]
      • Yemenite: [ r~ɾ ]
      • Tiberian: [ ɾ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ ɾ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ ɾ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: G\

ש

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: šn, śn
      • Font-friendly: šn, śn
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: shn, lhn
    • Unicode Standard: shin
    • Israeli: shin, sin
    • Ashkenazi: shin, sin
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: š, ś
      • Font-friendly: š, ś
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: sh, lh
    • Israeli: sh, s
  • Numerical Value: 300
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ ʃ, s ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ ʃ, s ]
      • Sephardi: [ ʃ, s ]
      • Yemenite: [ ʃ, s ]
      • Tiberian: [ ʃ, s ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ ʃ, ɬ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ t͡ʃ , t͡ɬ , s ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: S, s

ת

  • Name
    • Academic
      • Unicode: tāw, ṯāw
      • Font-friendly: tāw, thāw
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: tw, thw
    • Unicode Standard: tav
    • Israeli: tav
    • Ashkenazi: tov/tof, sov/sof
  • Transliteration
    • Academic
      • Unicode: t, ṯ
      • Font-friendly: t, th
      • ISO-8859-1-friendly: t, th
    • Israeli: t
  • Numerical Value: 400
  • Pronunciation
    • IPA
      • Modern Israeli: [ t ]
      • Ashkenazi: [ t, s ]
      • Sephardi: [ ]
      • Yemenite: [ t̪, θ ]
      • Tiberian: [ t̪, θ ]
      • Reconstructed Mishnaic: [ t̪, θ ]
      • Reconstructed Biblical: [ t̪ ]
    • SAMPA
      • Modern Israeli: t

Notes

  • Historically, the consonants ב bṯ, ג gmel, ד dāleṯ, כ kāp̄, פ p, and ת tāw each have two sounds: one hard (plosive consonant), and one soft (fricative consonant), depending on the position of the letter and other factors. When vowel diacritics are used, the hard sounds are indicated by a central dot called דגש dāḡēš (dagesh), and the soft sounds lack any dāḡēš. (In masoretic manuscripts, the soft fricative consonants are indicated by a small line on top of the letter; this diacritical mark is called raphe, but its use has been largely discontinued in printed texts.)
  • א ʾālep̄, ה h, ו wāw and י yḏ are consonants that can sometimes fill the position of a vowel. ו wāw and י yḏ in particular are more often vowels than they are consonants.
  • ש šn and śn are two separate phonemes written with the same letter. They are not mutually allophonic. When vowel diacritics are used, the two phonemes are differentiated with a šn-dot or śn-dot; the šn-dot is above the upper-right side of the letter, and śn-dot is above the upper-left side of the letter.
  • In Israel's general population, many consonants have merged to the same pronunciation. They are:
    • א ʾālep̄ with ע ʿyin and (varyingly) ה h
    • ב ḇṯ (without dāḡēš) with ו wāw
    • ח ḥṯ with כ ḵāp̄ (without dāḡēš)
    • ט ṭṯ with ת tāw (both with and without dāḡēš)
    • כ kāp̄ (with dāḡēš) with ק qp̄
    • ס sāmeḵ with ש śn (but not with ש šn)
    • צ ṣāḏ with consonant clusters טס ṭṯ-sāmeḵ, טש ṭṯ-śn, תס tāw-sāmeḵ and תש tāw-śn

Ancient Hebrew

Some of the variations in sound mentioned above are due to a systematic feature of Ancient Hebrew. The six consonants /p t k b d g/ were pronounced differently depending on their position. These letters were also called BeGeDKePHaT ("bay-ged-KEF-et") letters. (The full details are very complex; this summary omits some points.) They were pronounced as stops [p t k b d g] at the beginning of a syllable, or when doubled. They were pronounced as fricatives [p̄ ṯ ḵ ḇ ḏ ḡ] when preceded by a vowel. The stop and double pronunciations were indicated by the dot dāḡēš. In Modern Hebrew the sounds [ḏ] and [ḡ] have reverted to [d] and [g], and [ṯ] has become [t], so only the remaining three letters show variation.

ו wāw was a semivowel /w/ (as in English, not as in German).

ח ḥṯ and ע ʿyin were pharyngeal fricatives, צ ṣāḏ was an emphatic /s/, ט ṭṯ was an emphatic /t/, and ק qp̄ was /q/. All these are common Semitic consonants.

ש śn (the /s/ variant of ש šn) was originally different from both ש šn and ס sāmeḵ, but had become /s/ the same as ס sāmeḵ by the time the vowel pointing was devised. Because of cognates with other Semitic languages, this phoneme is known to have originally been a lateral consonant, most likely IPA the fricative /ɬ/ (as in Welsh /ll/) or the affricate /tɬ/ (as in Nhuatl /tl/).

History

Archeological evidence indicates that the original Hebrew script is related to the Phoenician script that was in wide use in the Middle East region at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Recent findings point to the direction that the Phoenician alphabet was derived from the ancient Cretans or Minoans (Crete is a Mediterranean island in what is now Greece) who reached the shores of the Middle-East as early as 2,500 ~ 3,000 BC. Eventually this alphabet evolved in Europe into the Greek and Roman alphabets. This script was borrowed by the Hebrews during the 12th or 11th century BC, and around the 9th century BC, a distinct Hebrew variant, the original "Hebrew script", emerged. This script was widely used in the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah until they fell in the 8th and 6th centuries BC, respectively.

Following the Babylonian exile, Jews gradually stopped using the Hebrew script, and instead adopted the Babylonian Aramaic script (which was also originally derived from the Phoenician script). This script, used for writing Hebrew, later evolved into the Jewish, or "square" script, that is still used today. "Square"-related scripts were in use all over the Middle East for several hundred years, but following the rise of Christianity (and later, the rise of Islam), they gave way to the Roman and Arabic alphabets, respectively. According to traditional Jewish thought, the Hebrew writing system contained all the current letters at the time of Moses, although Ezra is known for his contribution to the square form.

Following the decline of Hebrew and Aramaic as the spoken languages of the Jews, the Hebrew alphabet was adopted in order to write down the languages of the Jewish diaspora (Karaim, Judo-Arabic, Ladino, Yiddish, etc.). The Hebrew alphabet was retained as the alphabet used for writing down the Hebrew language during its rebirth in the end of the 19th century, despite several unsuccessful attempts to replace it with the Latin alphabet.

Hebrew in Unicode

The Unicode Hebrew block extends from U+0590 to U+05FF. It includes letters, ligatures, combining diacritical marks (niqqud and cantillation marks) and punctuation.


    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
590   ֐ ֑ ֒ ֓ ֔ ֕ ֖ ֗ ֘ ֙ ֚ ֛ ֜ ֝ ֞ ֟
5A0   ֠ ֡ ֢ ֣ ֤ ֥ ֦ ֧ ֨ ֩ ֪ ֫ ֬ ֭ ֮ ֯
5B0   ְ ֱ ֲ ֳ ִ ֵ ֶ ַ ָ ֹ ֺ ֻ ּ ֽ ־ ֿ
5C0   ׀ ׁ ׂ ׃ ׄ ׅ ׆ ׇ ׈ ׉ ׊ ׋ ׌ ׍ ׎ ׏
5D0   א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י ך כ ל ם מ ן
5E0   נ ס ע ף פ ץ צ ק ר ש ת ׫ ׬ ׭ ׮ ׯ
5F0   װ ױ ײ ׳ ״ ׵ ׶ ׷ ׸ ׹ ׺ ׻ ׼ ׽ ׾ ׿


See also

External links

  • HebAlpha, freeware to assist in learning the alphabet http://members.aol.com/OlivThill6/private/hebal10.htm
  • Al's Hebrew Transliterator, converts latin alphabet transliteration into Hebrew HTML codes http://lost1.net/?page=hebrew
  • A free online course to learn the Hebrew consonants http://hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/unit_one.html




Last updated: 02-05-2005 15:05:54
Last updated: 04-30-2005 11:01:35