Volume 1, The Universal Jewish...

Created by Reform Rabbis and Jewish Scholars, many of whom escaped from Nazi Germany, the Encyclopedia exhibits a unique sensitivity to all forms of anti-Semitic agitation and malice and makes every effort to find allies among others, especially Christians, to forge a shield for Jewish people in the face of the coming catastrophe.

ALPHABET THE UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA h sound is often preferred, as can be seen from the Ameri-can transliterations Halutz, Hanukah, and Hasidim. Since the Arabic alphabet has divided Heth into three letters, two of which have the above sounds, while the third has a pronunciation akin to z, it is possible that the Hebrew Heth may sometimes have had this pronunciation, and there is some support for this in ancient Hebrew words. However, if this pronunciation existed at all, it disappeared at an early period. 9. Teth. Pronounced as the English t. 10. Yod. Yod, when followed by a vowel, has about the same pronunciation as the English consonantal y. How-ever, there is evidence of transliteration, supported by analogy from other Semitic languages, which would tend to show that in ancient times Yod at the beginning of a word was pronounced like the vowel i, as in the word Israel ( now pronounced in Hebrew yisrael). Yod is used in Hebrew to indicate the vowels ee and ey ( as in they), and combined with vowel sounds to form the diphthongs ai ( pronounced as eye) and oi ( as in point). 11. Kaf. The ordinary pronunciation of Kaf is that of the English k; after an open syllable it has the same Ger-man ch sound as Heth. 12 to 14. Lamed, Mem, and Nun. Pronounced, respec-tively, as the English l, m, and n. 15. Samech. The traditional pronunciation of Samech is that of the sharp English s in  see. Some scholars are of the opinion that it was sibilated from the front of the mouth, giving a still sharper sound. 16. Ayin. Another of the letters which originally had two sounds. The first was a g, somewhat more guttural than that in English words such as  get; the second was the same sound pronounced much further down in the throat, and with no equivalent in any Western alphabet. In course of time, the second sound fell into disuse, and the first was considerably softened. At the time when the Septuagint translation was made ( about 300 B. C. E.) Ayin was no longer pronounced in some words ( such as Oba-diah) and was near a g in others ( such as Gomorrah). In modern times Ayin is a silent letter with Ashkenazic Jews, as in Shema, while Sephardic Jews give it the pro-nunciation ng, as in Shemang. 17. Pe. Pronounced as the English p. After an open syllable it is aspirated, becoming f. 18. Tsade. The traditional pronunciation of Tsade is that of the English ts; but there are indications from an-cient spellings that it was at least occasionally given a pronunciation very close to sharp s. 19. Kof. Pronounced as the English hard c in  cool and  coal. 20. Resh. Pronounced as the English r, with a slight roll of the tongue. In some words, however, Resh seems to have been pronounced deep in the throat, something like a growl. 21. Shin. Shin still preserves its double pronunciation of the English sh and sharp s, having the first in about half the words in which it is used, and the second in the rest. The well- known story of the test- word Shibboleth ( Judges 12: 5- 6) shows that the tribe of Ephraim used only the s sound of Shin; the same peculiarity is found among the Lithuanian Jews of modern times. 22. Tav. Pronounced as the English t. After an open syllable it is aspirated into th, which was pronounced first as in  hothouse and later as in  thin. In modern times Sephardic Jews give the aspirated Tav the sound of a weaker t, as for instance in emet ( for  emeth,  truth), while the Ashkenazic Jews sound it as sharp s, emess. III. Consonants and Vowels. The Hebrew alpha-bet was thus wholly consonantal. But four letters were able to indicate vowel sounds, and as Hebrew contains fourteen vowel sounds, the number of signs available was far from adequate. The ancient Hebrew alphabet was not so much an alphabet, in the sense that we un-derstand it, as a system of speedwriting. It was about equivalent to what English spelling would be if all the words were written out phonetically and with the five letters a, e, i, o and u omitted. [ 200 ] As long as Hebrew continued to be a spoken lan-guage, this shortcoming was not seriously felt. The Si-loam inscription ( 8th cent. B. C. E.), which was written by ordinary workmen, since it makes no mention of a king or superior officer, shows that even the common people at that time found no difficulty in using the signs. In course of time, however, as Hebrew began to be replaced by Aramaic, the need for vowels began to be felt. The consonantal vowels Vav and Yod were employed more and more in writing out words. Begin-ning some time in the Common Era different systems of vowels arose, and these were inserted into the con-sonantal text to facilitate the reading of the Hebrew of the Bible and the prayer- book. The present system of vowel points, with its seven signs that are used either singly or in combination with one another and with Vav and Yod, was not completed until the middle of the 10th cent.; it came into common use as the result of the authority of Maimonides ( 12th cent.). It should be noted, nevertheless, that the use of vowels never became universal in Hebrew. They were supplied in the Bible and the prayer- book, which every individual was supposed to know; whereas in the scrolls of the Torah, in the Talmud, and in all the later Hebrew literature, intended for more advanced scholars, the old consonantal alphabet was retained. IV. Forms of the Letters. Hebrew is written from right to left, the opposite direction from Western alphabets. Therefore, there has been a constant tend-ency to shift the vertical strokes of the letters to the right- hand side, while the open spaces are usually found on the left- hand side. The ancient Hebrew script is variously called kethab  ibri,  Hebrew script; kethab raatz,  broken from its appearance; and kethab daatz,  mint script, since it was used on coins. This writing is closely akin to Phoenician script and was used not only by the Is-raelites but also by their immediate neighbors such as the Moabites. It has been found on seals and in in-scriptions on such monuments as the Moabite Stone; unfortunately no specimens of its manuscript form, ex-cept on sherds, have been uncovered. It is a rather rough and ready form of writing, angular, full of cross-strokes and only moderately legible. During the period of the Second Temple this ancient Hebrew writing began to be replaced by the Syrian, or square character now employed in nearly all printed Hebrew. Since in this period the regions to the north-east of Palestine were no longer called by their original name Aram, but by the name of the ancient Assyrian empire, Asshur ( hence the modern geographical term, Syria), this writing was called kethab  ashurith. A later term for it was kethab meruba,  square charac-ter, because of its shape. It is less angular and more economical of lines than the ancient Hebrew, and for this reason it is more easily written and considerably more legible. A Talmudic tradition ( Sanh. 21b) reports that in the time of Ezra ( about 450 B. C. E.) the Torah began to be written in the Syrian character, while the plain people still used the ancient Hebrew character. This is probably not far from wrong, as it explains many vari-ants between the Masoretic text and that underlying the Septuagint ( 300 B. C. E. on). It is not known ex- AAR- AZU | BAA- CAN | CAN- EDU | EDU- GNO | GOD- IZS | JAB- LEX | LEX- MOS | MOS- PRO | PRO- SPE | SPI- ZYL   Chapter Home  | Index

Volume 1, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia


About Book Volume 1, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia

Front MatterHalf Title PageCopyright PageCONTRIBUTORS TO VOLUME ONEDedication PageSponsors, Friends, and Co-Workers of THE UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA PrefaceRules Governing Transliterations, Citations, Spelling of Proper Names, and AbbreviationsAAR - AZU ( I )BAA-CAN ( II )CAN - EDU ( III )EDU - GNO ( IV )GOD - IZS ( V )JAB - LEX ( VI )LEX - MOS ( VII )MOS - PRO ( VIII )PRO - SPE ( IX )SPI - ZYL ( X )INDEX TO GUIDE
volume universal jewish encyclopedia page https publishersrow ebookshuk books hebrew ebooks created reform rabbis scholars many whom escaped from nazi germany exhibits unique sensitivity forms anti semitic agitation malice makes every effort find allies among others especially christians forge shield people face coming catastrophe
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The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Complete and Unabridged Electronic Edition)
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To Dwell in Unity: The Jewish Federation Movement in America Since 1960
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In Jewish Pioneers and Patriots, Lee M. Friedman has unearthed an amazing store of fresh information about the connections of the Jews with America from the times even before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth down to the first World War.

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