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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Alphabet


Ayin

By Jeff A. Benner


Early
Hebrew
Middle
Hebrew
Late
Hebrew
Modern
Hebrew


Ancient Name: ayin
Pictograph: Eye
Meanings: Watch, Know, Shade
Sound: Silent


History & Reconstruction

The Ancient picture for this letter is and is a picture of an eye. This letter represents the ideas of seeing and watching as well as knowledge, as the eye is the window of knowledge.

The name of the letter is ayin, a Semitic word meaning eye. This letter is silent in Modern Hebrew. There is no indication that the ancient Semitic had a sound for this letter as well and appears to have been silent in the past. The Greek language assigned the vowel sound "o" to the letter and may be the origin of the number 0. As Hebrew did not have one letter for the "o" sound the Greeks took this silent letter and converted it into a vowel.

The early Semitic evolved into the simpler in the middle Semitic and remained the same into the late Semitic period. This letter evolved into the ע in the Modern Hebrew script. The middle Semitic became the O in Greek and Latin.


Semitic Script Charts




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