|A Sefer Torah, the traditional form of the Hebrew Bible, is a scroll of parchment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|The Ten Commandments, In SVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The root אלף ('alap) means to learn or teach, not in a very good way (Proverbs 22:25, Job 15:5, 33:33, 35:11).The identical word אלף ('alep) means to produce thousands (Psalm 144:13 only). Derivation אלף means oxen (the connection lies perhaps in guidance or to team up). Some say this looks like the head of an ox.ב Beth 2
The word בית (bayit) means house in the sense of a building, but also household; wife and children. This word also serves to mean House Of The Lord, or Temple. As preposition the letter means 'in'. As such it is the first letter of the Bible. The first word of the Bible comes from the name of the 20th letter: rosh.ג Gimmel 3
The verb גמל (gamal) means to deal, or recompense in the sense of benefitting from. Derivation גמל (gamal) means camel. It is said that the letter reminds of a camel's neck.ד Daleth 4
From root דלה (dala), draw (water). The word דלת (delet) specifically denotes a swinging door of a building. Since doors most commonly opened inward, this 'thing-you-draw' is named after a going out of a house, or letting someone else in.
Other derivations are: דל (dal), door; דלה (dala), door; דלי (dali), bucket; דליות (daliyot), branch, bough.
Because a door in Bible times hinged in the upper corner, it is said that the letter daleth reminds of that.
|ה He 5|
The spelling and thus the meaning of this word is uncertain. Klein spells הא (he), meaning lo! behold! Fuerst holds to הי, and thinks it's a part of the name for heth; letter 8. As prefix this letter serves as the definite particle, the, which is used far less than our word the, and specifically when an emphasis or reference to a previous statement is made.ו Waw 6
The word וו (waw) means hook or peg, and is strictly reserved for the hooks/ pegs that kept the curtains of the tabernacle in place. It is said that the shape of the letter waw reminds of a hook or peg.ז Zayin 7
Meaning debated. The word זין does not occur in Scriptures. Klein suggests that the form of the zayin represents a hand weapon, and explains that zyn means arm, ornament, to arm, to adorn (no references to Scriptures). Fuerst goes after the assumed root זוז (zwz) of the verb זיז (ziz), moving things (like animals) and מזוזה (mezuza), doorpost. The identical root זוז (zwz) yields זיז (ziz), meaning abundance, fullness.ח Heth 8
Meaning again unknown. According to Fuerst it means fence in, destroy. Fuerst also thinks it has to do with a fence, but it could equally possible be the symbol of stacking stones.ט Teth 9
Klein derives from טות (twh), spin, and renders teth to knot, knot together, to twist into each other, to interweave. The letter teth indeed looks like a little vortex or spiral.
|י Yod 10|
One of two regular words for hand (the other being the 11th letter). יד (yad) denotes the hand, typically not as outstretched, but rather as holding something or being a fist. The word is synonymous with power or might; to fall in one's hands. It's typical that the alphabet's smallest letter came to mean power, but perhaps it's shape reminded of a little fist.ךכ Kaph 20, 500
One of two regular words for hand (the other being the 10th letter). כף (kap) denotes the hand as outstretched, asking and weak. The word basically encompasses anything that is hollow or outstretched in order to receive something: dish, plate,etc.ל Lamed 30,
The verb למד (lamad) means learn or teach. Derivative תלמיד (talmid) means scholar (hence Talmud), and derivative מלמד means ox goad. The letter lamed is said to look like such a device, and when Jesus says to Saul, "it is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14) He may hint at Saul's learning rather than coercion.ם מ Mem 40, 600
מים (mayim) means waters in the sense of a larger body (sea, ocean). It is suggested that the letter mem looks like a wave.
|ןנ Nun 50, 700|
The verb נון means propagate, increase. Derivative נין means offspring, posterity. The letter is often said to mean and resemble a fish, but the word nun is not used as such in the Bible. In stead, the word for fish comes from another verb which means multiply, increase: דגה (daga).ס Samech 60
The letter nun is written ן when it occurs at the end of a word, and נ when it occurs at the beginning or half-way a word.
The verb סמך (samak) means lean upon, support, uphold. It is the verb that is used in the phrase "laying on of hands."ע Ayin 70
The word עין (ayin) means eye in all regular senses, but also as means of expression (knowledge, character, etc). The word עין (ayin) means spring or fountain. The eye is one of four bodily "fountains," the other three being mouth, skin and urethra (and only the mouth is not supposed to produce water outwardly). Transpiration releases the body of excessive heat; urine evaluates toxins, and the eye produces water commonly when grief or pain is processed. All have to do with cleansing or purification.
|פף Pe 80 ,800|