Ancient Hebrew Alphabet – Lesson 3 – Gimel

The history and evolution of the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter gimel- ג.

A chart of the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet is available through the Ancient Hebrew Research Center – http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/28_chart.html

Name
The name of the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet is gimel. The Greek name for this letter is gamma and the Arabic name is geem, suggesting that the original name of this letter was gam and not gimel. In Hebrew, the word gam is a conjuction meaning also. Most Hebrew conjunction words were also used as a noun. For instance, aph can mean moreover or nose, eyqev can mean because or heel. When we examine all of the words related to gam, we find that they all are related to the idea of gathering at a watering hole.

Form
4,000 years ago, the letter gam, or gimel as it is known as today, was a picture of a foot, as in walking to the watering hole. The Hebrew word gamal is a camel, camel being derived out of the Hebrew word gamal. A camel is also related to the word gam as it walks to watering hole to drink large quantities of water.

Meaning
This letter represents a foot, walking and gathering.

Sound
This letter is pronounced g as in game.

Vocabulary
Some Hebrew words that begin with this letter are gever meaning warrior, gadol meaning great, gan meaning garden and geshem meaning rain.

Early form
The ancient Hebrew gimel can be seen in this inscription found at Wadi-El-Hhol in Egypt, which was inscribed about 2000 BC.

Middle form
Around 1000 BC the gimel was rotated as can be seen in the Tel Dan inscription that dates to about 850 BC.

Greek
This form of the letter was adopted by the Greeks and became the Greek letter gamma. In the Latin alphabet, this letter became the letter C as the letter G.

Late form
Around 400 BC this letter evolved again, as it appears in a Dead Sea Scroll.

Number
This letter, the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet became the number 3.

Modern
This letter is very similar to the Modern Hebrew letter as can be seen in the Aleppo Codex dated to about 1000 AD.

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