Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Ancient Hebrew Alphabet


Mem

By Jeff A. Benner


Early
Hebrew
Middle
Hebrew
Late
Hebrew
Modern
Hebrew


Ancient Name: Mem?, Mayim?, Mah?
Pictograph: Water
Meanings: Chaos, Mighty, Blood
Sound: M


History & Reconstruction

The Early Semitic pictograph for this letter is , a picture of waves of water. This pictograph has the meanings of liquid, water and sea, mighty and massive from the size of the sea and chaos from the storms of the sea.

The Modern Hebrew name for this letter is mem probably from the word mayim meaning "water." The word mayim is the plural form of mah, probably the original name for this letter, meaning "what." To the Hebrews the sea was a feared and unknown place, for this reason this letter is used as a question word, who, what, when, where, why and how, in the sense of searching for an unknown. The Greek name for this letter is mu, which is a Hebrew word closely related in roots and meaning to the Hebrew word mah. The sound for this letter is "m," as it is in all other languages.

The Early Semitic evolved into in the Middle Semitic and continued to evolve into in the Late Semitic script. The Late Semitic script evolved into the מ and ם (final mem) in the Modern Hebrew script. The Early and Middle Semitic script is the origin to the Greek and Roman M.


Semitic Script Charts




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