The Hebrew alphabet

Phoenician trade routes

The Phoenician cities were located where Israel, Lebanon and Syria are now. Their alphabet was adopted by the Greeks to the west and, on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, by Canaanites, Moabites, Arameans, Amonites and Hebrews. Through them the Phoenician alphabet evolved into the Hebrew alphabet.

There are similarities between the Phoenician alphabet and the Hebrew alphabet. Both have 22 letters; neither have vowels; the names of many letters are similar; aleph (A) and ayin (O) are glottal stops; you read both alphabets from right to left.

Phoenician, the corresponding Latin, and Hebrew letters. The Latin column shows A and O as ‘ to indicate glottal stops—they hadn’t become vowels yet.

It’s fascinating to see how the alphabet developed in the Near East and Middle East compared to the West. I drew you a chart with Phoenician, Latin (our alphabet), and Hebrew letters. My Hebrew letterforms are less-than-spectacular. If only there were someone I could call who is good at Hebrew calligraphy, but who? Who?

https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/alphabet/history-of-the-hebrew-alphabet.htm
https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4069287/jewish/The-Hebrew-Alphabet.htm
https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/learn-about-the-scrolls/introduction?locale=en_US
https://ramatracheldig.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/120808-the-phoenician-alphabet/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

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