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Jewish Dictionary --> Hebrew Aleph Bet and Hebrew Words

Jewish Dictionary -- Hebrew Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Kaf/Khaf Yod Tet Khet Zayin Vav He Dalet Gimel Bet/Vet Alef
כ י ט ח ז ו ה ד ג ב א
ך
Tav Shin/Sin Resh Kuf Tsadi Pe/Fe Ayin Samekh Nun Mem Lamed
ת ש ר ק צ פ ע ס נ מ ל
ץ ף ן ם
Hebrew (עִבְרִית, ‘Ivrit) is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by more than seven million people in Israel and used for prayer or study in Jewish communities around the world. In Israel, it is spoken by the majority of the population, though both Arabic and Hebrew are official languages. Hebrew is also spoken as a mother tongue by the Samaritans, though today fewer than a thousand Samaritans remain. As a foreign language it is studied mostly by Jews and students of Judaism and Israel, archaeologists and linguists specializing in the Middle East and its civilizations and by theologians.

The modern word "Hebrew" is derived from the word "Ibriy" which in turn is based upon the root "`abar" (עבּר) meaning "to cross over". The related name Eber occurs in Genesis 10:21 and means "the one who traverses". In the Bible "Hebrew" is called Yehudith (יהודית) because Judah (Yehuda) was the surviving kingdom at the time of the quotation, late 8th century (Is 36, 2 Kings 18).

The core of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) is written in Classical Hebrew, and much of its present form is specifically the dialect of Biblical Hebrew that scholars believe flourished around the 6th century BCE, around the time of the Babylonian exile. For this reason, Hebrew has been referred to by Jews as Leshon HaKodesh (לשון הקודש), "The Holy Language", since ancient times.
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