Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Alphabet


By Jeff A. Benner


Ancient Name: Kaph
Pictograph: Open Palm
Meanings: Bend, Open, Allow, Tame
Sound: K (stop), Kh (spirant)

History & Reconstruction

The Ancient form of this letter is the open palm of a hand. The meanings of this letter are "bend" and "curve," from the shape of the palm, as well as to "tame" or "subdue" as one who has been bent to another's will.

The Modern Hebrew name for this letter is kaph, a Hebrew word meaning "palm" and is also the ancient name for this letter. This letter is pronounced as a "k," as in the word kaph, when used as a stop or as a "kh" (pronounced hard like the "ch" in the German name Bach), as in the word yalakh (to walk) when used as a spirant.

The Early Semitic evolved into in the Middle Semitic script. This letter continued to evolve into in the Late Semitic script and becoming the Modern Hebrew כ and the ך (final kaph). The Middle Semitic became the Greek and Roman K (written in the reverse direction from the Hebrew).

Semitic Script Charts

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