Hebrew Alphabet


The Hebrew alphabet is used to write Hebrew, the official language of Israel. It includes 22 characters. It can be characterized as a consonant alphabet, meaning that all letters are consonants. It is also used in Yiddish, Ladino, Karaite and Krymchak languages. Hebrew originated from  Aramaic 10840–1085F , which, in turn, came from  Phoenician 10900–1091F .

In the Hebrew alphabet, uppercase and lowercase letters are written the same way. Although they are all consonants, four of them (א, ה, ו, י) can be used to write vowel sounds. For the same purpose, diacritics are also used — dots that are placed above or below the letter. The five characters of the alphabet have a different shape depending on the location in the word (at the beginning and middle, or at the end). Just like in Greek and many other systems, letters are assigned a numeric value.

The Jews began to use the alphabetic writing system in the first millennium BC. The oldest example is considered to be the Gezer Calendar — a limestone tablet that was excavated by Robert McAllister in 1908 in Tel Gezer. The first Biblical texts were written in the square Hebrew alphabet. Since then, the shape of the letters has changed little compared to the modern one.