THE HEBREW ALPHABET AND VOWELS
The Hebrew alphabet consists entirely of consonants, the first being א (Aleph) and the last
being ת (Taw). It has 23 letters, but שׂ (Sin) and שׁ (Shin) were originally counted as one let-
ter, and thus it is sometimes said to have 22 letters. It is written from right to left, so that in
the word written שׁא, the letter א is first and the letter שׁ is last. The standard script for bibli-
cal Hebrew is called the square or Aramaic script.
A. The Consonants
1. The Letters of the Alphabet
Table 1.1. The Hebrew Alphabet
1 א Aleph 7 ז Zayin 13 מ Mem 19 ק Qoph
2 ב Beth 8 ח Heth 14 נ Nun 20 ר Resh
3 ג Gimel 9 ט Teth 15 ס Samek 21 שׂ Sin
4 ד Daleth 10 י Yod 16 ע Ayin 22 שׁ Shin
5 ה Hey 11 כ Kaph 17 פ Pe 23 ת Taw
6 ו Waw 12 ל Lamed 18 צ Tsade
To master the Hebrew alphabet, first learn the signs, their names, and their alphabetical or-
der. Do not be concerned with the phonetic values of the letters at this time.
2. Letters with Final Forms
Five letters have final forms. Whenever one of these letters is the last letter in a word, it is
written in its final form rather than its normal form. For example, the final form of Tsade is
ץ (contrast צ). It is important to realize that the letter itself is the same; it is simply written
differently if it is the last letter in the word. The five final forms are as follows.
Table 1.2. Consonants with Final Forms
Normal Form כ מ נ פ צ
Final Form 9 ם ן ף ץ
In 9למ (mlk), מ (the first letter, reading the Hebrew right to left) has the normal form,
but the last letter in the word is כ in its final form (9).
(2) In םכל (lkm), the כ has the normal form, but the מ has the final form (ם).
4 A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew