https://www.duolingo.com/UmpaSumpa

names of Hebrew letters meanings

I was told that the names of the Hebrew letters we actually hebrew words. For exemple: aleph means ox head, etc... For this reason I thought that learning those names would give me a start with a little vocabulary as well as learning the alphabet.

But when I looked in the strongs concoordance, I couldn't find many of the letter names as words.

So my question is: When were these letter names given to the letters? Are they very old and possibly reveal what the original letter looked like, or were they given these names recently and maybe have meaning rather in modern Hebrew which would explain why I couldn't find them in the strong's concoordance...

4 weeks ago

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/TomBunzel
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To put it shortly, it's tricky. The names of the ancient letters indeed had a direct connection to what the character resembled in shape. However, the characters have repeatedly changed over the years and some words' meanings no longer exist in modern-Hebrew.

Still, some letters have changed in a way that preserves the image it has originally portrayed and some of the names' meanings have direct equivalents in modern-Hebrew. The link that Valoriep has provided is excellent, but if you feel like doing some further reading you could read this paper that I've written after reading your question, about every letter, what its original ancient character resembles and what present equivalents one could find in modern-Hebrew - https://docs.google.com/document/d/10iZcdloqG0btYZbx-adqp-NyTx5X4y808pArJmYrSk8

Wonderful question, thanks for bringing it up for discussion!

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Valoriep
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Great summary of the letters-thanks!

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Valoriep
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Try this website to see if it answers your questions: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/m/alphabet_chart.html You can also explore other pages on the website for the evolution of the Hebrew alphabet.

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas_Wesley
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I have Benner's book, so I was about to recommend the same thing, more or less! The only difference in his book is that he says tsade is "man on his side" (vs. "trail" which I've heard in his videos as well as your link). I'm not sure when or why he changed his mind, but the others seem to be the same.

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yossefdoui
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as a native Hebrew speaker, no one knows the ancient meaning of the letters. I recommend you don't learn them as there won't be useful at all. good luck!

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidCheat1
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Knowing the ancient names and meanings of the letters isn't useful for modern Israeli Hebrew. It's not useful unless you're a practicing Orthodox Jew from one of the groups that has a mystic tradition, I learned them as part of Kabbalah called Gematriya. The letters represent numbers as well as attributes.

4 weeks ago
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