A unique way to understand the Hebrew prefixes Aleph and Yod, showing how God is involved in all.
Posts tagged ‘Aleph’
King James Version (KJV)
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
From Aleph to Tav
The most common word in the Hebrew Bible is the word את (et). The first letter is the א, called an aleph, and is the first letter of the Hebrew alephbet. The second letter in the word את (et) is the ת, called a tav, and is the last letter of the Hebrew alephbet. These two letters are the “first and the last,” the “beginning and the end” and the “Aleph and the Tav” (which is translated as “the alpha and the omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, in the book of Revelation).
King James Version (KJV)
10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
The word “plowshares,” in the passage above, is the Hebrew word את (et). A plowshare is the metal point of the plow which digs into the soil creating a furrow for planting seeds. When we examine the original pictographic script used in ancient times to write Hebrew, we can see a clear connection between the letters of this word and its meaning.
The modern Hebrew form of the letter aleph is א, but is an evolved form of the original pictograph , a picture of an ox head. The ancient pictographic form of the letter ת is , a picture of two crossed sticks which are used as a marker. When these two pictographs are combined we have the meaning “an ox toward the mark.” Fields were plowed with a plow pulled behind an ox (or pair of oxen). In order to keep the furrows straight the driver of the ox would aim toward a mark, such as a tree or rock outcropping in the far distance. As we can see, this meaning of driving the ox toward a mark, can be seen in the letters of the Hebrew word את (et).
The word את is also used very frequently (over 7,000 times) in the Hebrew language such as can be seen in the very first verse of the Bible.
|בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃|
Because the word את has no equivalent in the English language, it is not translated, but to demonstrate its meaning in this verse I will translate Genesis 1:1 into English, but retain the word את in its correct position.
|In the beginning Elohiym filled את the sky and את the land|
The word את is used as a grammatical tool to identify the definite object of the verb. In the example of Genesis 1:1 the verb is the Hebrew word ברא (bara), meaning “to fill,” and the definite objects, the ones receiving the action of the verb, are the sky and the land. Just as the “ox” moved toward the “mark” when plowing, the word את (the plowshare) plows the path from the verb of a sentence (the ox) to the definite object (the mark).
Just as the phrase “heaven and earth” is an idiomatic expression meaning “all of creation,” the phrase “aleph and tav” is an idiomatic expression meaning “the whole of the alephbet.” It is the mission of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center to search out the history and meanings of the Ancient Hebrew alephbet, as well as the roots and words which are created out of them.
“In the beginning was את…”
A chart of the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet is available through the Ancient Hebrew Research Center – http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/28_chart.html
The name of the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet is aleph. Aleph is a Hebrew word meaning ox as can be found in Ps 8:7 – all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
4,000 years ago, the Hebrew alphabet was written with pictographs. The original form for this letter was a picture of an ox head.
This letter represents the ideas of strength and power, the characteristics of the ox. This pictograph may also represent a chief or other leader.
This letter has an ah sound as in the word ox, or an eh as in the word elk.
Some Hebrew words that begin with this letter are el meaning mighty one, but often translated as god, av, meaning father, aniy meaning I, and adon meaning lord.
The ancient hebrew aleph can be seen in this rock inscription found at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Penninsula, which was inscribed about 1500 BC.
Around 1000 BC the Hebrew alphabet evolved into a simpler form that usually called Paleo-Hebrew. This form can be seen in the Tel Dan inscription that dates to about 850 BC.
This form of the letter was adopted by the Greeks and became the letter alpha, note the similarity between the Hebrew name aleph and the Greek name alpha.
Second Middle form
The aleph was also written in a slightly different form and this form can be seen on the Moabite Stone which is also dated at about 850 BC.
This letter, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet became the number 1.
Around 400 BC this letter evolved again, as it appears in this scroll fragment found in the Dead Sea Caves dated to the first century BC or first century AD.
This letter is very similar to the Modern Hebrew letter as can be seen in the Aleppo Codex dated to about 1000 AD.
By Jeff A. Benner
|History & Reconstruction|
The original pictograph for this letter is a picture of an ox head – representing strength and power from the work performed by the animal. This pictograph also represents a chief or other leader. When two oxen are yoked together for pulling a wagon or plow, one is the older and more experienced one who leads the other. Within the clan, tribe or family the chief or father is seen as the elder who is yoked to the others as the leader and teacher.
The Modern name for this letter is aleph and corresponds to the Greek name alpha and the Arabic name aleph. The various meanings of this root are oxen, yoke and learn. Each of these meanings is related to the meanings of the pictograph . The root aleph() is an adopted root from the parent root el () meaning, strength, power and chief and is the probable original name of the pictograph .
The is a shepherd staff and represents authority as well as a yoke (see the letter Lam). Combined these two pictographs mean “strong authority”. The chief or father is the “strong authority”. The can also be understood as the “ox in the yoke”. Many Near Eastern cultures worshipped the god , most commonly pronounced as “el” and depicted as a bull in carvings and statues. Israel chose the form of a calf (young bull) as an image of God at Mount Sinai showing their association between the word and the ox or bull. The word is also commonly used in the Hebrew Bible for God or any god.
The concept of the ox and the shepherd staff in the word has been carried over into modern times as the scepter and crown of a monarch, the leader of a nation.
These modern items are representative of the shepherd staff, an ancient sign of authority, and the horns of the ox, an ancient sign of strength.
In Modern Hebrew this letter is silent but was originally used as the vowel “a” as well as a glottal stop. The Greek letter “alpha” derived from the “aleph” is also used for the “a” sound.
The Early Semitic pictograph was simplified to and in the Middle Hebrew script and continued to evolve into the in the Late Hebrew script. The Modern Hebrew letter א developed out of the Late Semitic. The Middle Semitic was adopted by the Greeks to be the letter “A” and carried over into the Roman “A”. The Middle Semitic script became the number “1” we use today.