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The Hebrew Alephbet

Hebrew, the language of the Bible, is an ancient language preserved, down the centuries, as a Holy language used in prayer and holy writings. It is only in the past 100 years that this ancient language has been reborn as a vibrant, developing language and the native language of the Israeli people.

Hebrew is an ancient language, one tracing its roots back through thousand s of years of history. It is a language used ion one of the most significant books ever written – the Bible. It is language that has influenced billions of people across the globe. It is also a language that, for almost 2000 years was in “hibernation”, used solely for religious texts and practices.

Now, the Hebrew language is alive and vibrant and many people want to learn Hebrew for many different reasons. Perhaps because they are considering making their home in Israel or perhaps because they wish to better understand Israeli culture. Israel’s booming economy is another reason for business people to understand the language whilst others study it as an academic course or, as an academic course or simply because they identify with the Jewish People.

To set you on your path to acquiring a new language, here is some basic information about the Hebrew language.

And if it seems daunting… Don’t worry, it’s really not that hard and the Moses Method makes it even easier.

Hebrew differs from most European languages in a number of ways:

  • It is written from right to left.
  • It has no vowel letters.
  • The script is a Semitic rather than a Latin script.
  • There are five letters which are written differently when placed at the end of a word.
  • Hebrew letters also have a numerical value.

Whilst written Hebrew has remained essentially unchanged (apart from the addition of new words to accommodate its use in modern society), over the centuries a number of Hebrew dialects developed. The two main dialects still in use today are Sephardi (Spain, North Africa) and Ashkenazi (Europe).

All about Hebrew Alephbet

The word “alphabet” comes from the first two words of the Greek alphabet. The Hebrew “Alephbet” derives from the fact that the first two letters in the Hebrew script are “aleph” and “bet”.

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters and five “final” letters – variations of letters only used at the end of a word.

Unlike English in which consonants and vowels may be arranged in any order, in Hebrew a vowel always follows a consonant (the final consonant may or may not be followed by a vowel).

Several Hebrew letters are similar and easily confused with others. This is less of a problem in spoken Hebrew.

א

ב

ג

ד

ה

ו

ז

ח

ט

י

Aleph

Bet

Gimel

Dalet

Heh

Vav

Zayin

Chet

Tet

Yud

כ

ך

ל

מ

ם

נ

ן

ס

ע

פ

Kaf

Chaf (Final)

Lamed

Mem

Mem (Final)

Nun

Nun (Final)

Samech

Ayin

Peh

ף

צ

ץ

ק

ר

ש

ת

Peh (Final)

Tsadik

Tadik (Final)

Kuf

Resh

Shin

Taf

Additionally, a dot added to a letter is used change the pronunciation of certain letters:

שׁ

שׂ

בּ

ב

כּ/ ךּ

כ/ ך

פּ

פ/ ף

Shin

Sin

Bet (Hard)

Vet (Soft)

Kaf (Hard)

Chaf (Soft

Peh (Hard)

Feh (Soft)

Show

Sun

Band

Very

Card

Bach

Pill

Felt


Hebrew Letters and their English Equivalent

א

ב

ג

ד

ה

ו

ז

ח

ט

י

Aleph

Bet

Gimel

Dalet

Heh

Vav

Zayin

Chet

Tet

Yud

A

B

G

D

H

V

Z

T

Y & I

כ

ך

ל

מ

ם

נ

ן

ס

ע

פ

Kaf

Chaf (Final)

Lamed

Mem

Mem (Final)

Nun

Nun (Final)

Samech

Ayin

Peh

K & C

K & C

L

M

M

N

N

S

A (Guttural)

P

ף

צ

ץ

ק

ר

ש

ת

Peh (Final)

Tsadik

Tadik (Final)

Kuf

Resh

Shin

Taf

P

TS

TS

K & C

R

S

T


Vowels

Hebrew has no vowels as such. However vowel sounds can be indicated through the use of consonants such as Aleph (א), Heh (ה), Vav (ו) and Yud (י). There are also a number of vowel “points” (known a “Nikkud”) that can also be used to signify vowel sounds.

In Biblical Hebrew and religious texts, children’s books and texts for Hebrew language students, extensive use is made of Nikkud but in modern day Hebrew the trend is towards using the four vowel consonants.

Shva

אְ

Hataf Segol

אֱ

Hataf Patach

אֲ

Hataf Kamatz

אֳ

Hirik

אִ

Tsere

אֵ

Segol

אֶ

Patach

אַ

Kamatz

אָ

Sin

שׂ

Shin

שׁ

Holam

וֹ

Dagesh

כּ

Kubutz

אֻ

Rafe

פֿ

Meteg

פֽ

 

Hebrew Letters as Numerals

Hebrew letters also have a numeric value. However, in modern day Hebrew western numbers are the norm. Hebrew numbers are used in official documents and religious writings and documents.

The double quote is used to signify that the sequence of letters represents a number rather than a word.

A single apostrophe after a letter (at the start of the number) signifies that the preceding letter is in the thousands. Thus, for example, ה'תש"גrepresents 5703

א

ב

ג

ד

ה

ו

ז

ח

ט

י

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

כ

ל

מ

נ

ס

ע

פ

צ

ק

ר

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

200

ש

ת

ת"ק

ת"ר

ת"ש

ת"ת

תת"ק

300

400

500

600

700

800

900


Examples

12

34

101

450

879

י"ב

ל"ג

ק"א

ת"נ

תתע"ט

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