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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Alphabet


By Jeff A. Benner


Ancient Name: ghah?, ghayin?
Pictograph: Rope of twisted fibers
Meanings: Twisted, Dark, Wicked
Sound: g, gh or ng

History & Reconstruction

While this letter existed in ancient Semitic languages and some modern Semitic languages, it no longer exists in the modern Hebrew. Instead it has been absorbed into the letter ע (ayin). While the evidence exists showing that this is in fact a separate letter, there is very little evidence for reconstructing its original pictograph. The Ugarit and Arabic languages wrote this letter the same as the ayin but with an additional line or dot. The closest candidate for this letter is the , a twisted rope, which is found in some ancient Semitic inscriptions.

In the Arabic language this letter is called the ghayin and is probably related to the Hebrew word ghah meaning "twisted."

Because the Greek language transliterates this letter with a gamma ("g" sound) we know that this letter originally had a type of "g" sound, possibly a "ng" as in the word "ring."

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