Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Alphabet


Hey

By Jeff A. Benner


Early
Hebrew
Middle
Hebrew
Late
Hebrew
Modern
Hebrew


Pictograph: Man with arms raised
Meanings: Look, Reveal, Breath
Sound: H, eh


History & Reconstruction

The original pictograph for this letter is , a man standing with his arms raised up. The Modern Hebrew, and original name for this letter, is hey, a Hebrew word meaning "behold," as when looking at a great sight. This word can also mean "breath" or "sigh," as one does when looking at a great sight. The meaning of the letter is behold, look, breath, sigh, reveal and revelation from the idea of revealing a great sight by pointing it out.

This letter is a consonant, with an "h" sound, but also used as a vowel with the "eh" sound. When the Greeks adopted this letter it became the epsilon (E-psilon meaning "simple E") with an "eh" sound.

This letter is commonly used as a prefix to words to mean "the" as in ha'arets meaning "the land." The use of this prefix is to reveal something of importance within the sentence.

The Early Semitic evolved into the Middle Semitic by rotating the letter 90 degrees to the left. This letter then evolved into in the late Semitic script that developed into the Modern Hebrew ה. The Middle Semitic was adopted by the Greeks and the Romans to become the E (reversed from its Semitic origin due to the direction of writing). This Middle Semitic letter also became the number 5.


Semitic Script Charts




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