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Hebrew (Ivrit / עברית)Hebrew

Hebrew is a member of the Canaanite group of Semitic languages. It was the language of the early Jews, but from 586 BC it started to be replaced by Aramaic. By 200 AD use of Hebrew as an everyday language had largely ceased, but it continued to be used for literary and religious functions, as well as a lingua franca among Jews from different countries.

Hebrew at a glance

  • Native name: עברית [ʔivˈʁit / ʕivˈɾit]
  • Linguistic affliation: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central Semitic, Northwest Semitic, Canaanite
  • Number of speakers: c. 7.4 million
  • Spoken in: mainly Israel, and also in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, Panama, the UK and USA
  • First written: 10th century BC
  • Writing system: Hebrew script
  • Status: official language in Israel; recognised minority language in Poland

During the mid-19th century the first efforts were made to revive Hebrew as a everyday language. One man who played a major role in these efforts was Eliezer Ben Yehuda (1858-1922), who was the first to make exclusive use of Hebrew in his home, and encouraged the use of Hebrew among others, as well as its use in schools.

Today Hebrew is spoken by some 5 million people mainly in Israel, where it is an official language along with Arabic. and a further 2 million people speak the language in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, Panama, the UK and USA.

Hebrew alphabet

The first alphabet used to write Hebrew emerged during the late second and first millennia BC. It is closely related to the Phoenician alphabet. The modern Hebrew alphabet was developed from an alphabet known as Proto-Hebrew/Early Aramaic.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abjad
  • Direction of writing: right to left in horizontal lines.
  • Number of letters: 22 consonants, plus final letters and diacritics
  • Used to write: Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, Yiddish and many other Jewish languages.
  • Some letters (kaf, mem, nun, fe and tzadi) have a final form (sofit), which is used when they appear at the end of a word.
  • There are no separate numerals in Hebrew, instead standard western numerals (1, 2, 3, etc) are used.
  • Long vowels can be indicated by the letters alef, vav, and yod. Short vowels are not usually marked, except in the Bible, poetry and books for children and foreign learners.

The Hebrew script

Modern Israeli pronunciation

Hebrew script (Modern Israeli pronunciation)

Notes

  • het is officially pronounced [ħ], but many people pronounce it [x]
  • ʻayin is officially pronounced [ʕ], but many people pronounce it [ʔ]

Download

Download a Hebrew alphabet chart in Word or PDF format

Hebrew script (Medieval/Tiberian and Reconstructed mid-2nd millenium pronunciation)

Hebrew vowel points / Nikkud (נִקּוּד טְבֶרְיָנִי)

Hebrew vowel points

The first row of IPA transcriptions is the Modern Israeli Hebrew pronunciation,
the second row is the Medieval/Tiberian pronunciation.

Modern Cursive Hebrew script

Modern Cursive Hebrew script

Rashi

The Rashi style is used mainly to write commentaries on texts. It is named after Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 AD) a.k.a. Rashi, one of the greatest medieval Jewish scholars and bible commentators. Rashi did not use the Rashi sytle to write his commentaries but it is named in honour of him.

Rashi Hebrew script

Sample texts in Hebrew

Without vowels (Serif font - David)

Sample text in Hebrew

Without vowels (Sans-Serif font - Arial)

Sample text in Hebrew

With vowels

Sample text in Hebrew (with vowels)

Cursive script

Sample text in Hebrew (cursive script)

Another version of the cursive script

Sample text in Hebrew (cursive script)

Cursive script with ligatures (informal)

Sample text in Hebrew (cursive script with ligatures)

Transliteration

Kol benei ha'adam noldu benei xorin veshavim be'erkam uvizxuyoteihem. Kulam xonenu batevuna uvematspun, lefixax xova 'aleihem linhog ish bere'ehu beruax shel axava.

A recording of this text by גל ויסברג (Gal Weisberg)

Another recording of this text by Tal Barnea

An improved version of this text by Yitzchak Gale

Sample text in Hebrew (an improved version of the UDHR by Yitzchak Gale)

Transliteration

Kol benei ha'adam noldu benei xorin veshavim be'erkam uvizxuyoteihem. Kulam xonenu batevuna uvematspun, v xova 'aleihem linhog ish bere'ehu beruax shel axava.

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Corrections and text samples provided by Tal Barnea.

Information about Hebrew | Hebrew phrases | Hebrew numbers | Tower of Babel in Hebrew | Biblical Hebrew video lessons | Modern Hebrew video lessons | Hebrew links | Hebrew learning materials

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Links

Information about the Hebrew language and alphabet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_language
http://judaism.about.com/od/hebre1/Hebrew.htm
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/
jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0008_0_08629.html

Modern Hebrew lessons and courses
http://www.zigzagworld.com/hebrewforme
http://www.hebrewpodcasts.com
http://www.ulpan.net
http://hebrewspeaker.blogspot.com
http://www.linguanaut.com/learn_hebrew.htm
http://foundationstone.com.au
http://www.hebraico.pro.br
Biblical Hebrew lessons and courses
http://www.netwaysglobal.com
http://www.hebrewresources.com/onlineclass_biblical.html
http://www.shalom.50megs.com
http://www.hebrew4christians.net

Learn Hebrew online with HebrewPod101
Practical Hebrew - learn to speak the Hebrew that really matters

Learn Conversational Hebrew

Learn Hebrew with dictionaries, online courses and easy Hebrew magazines

Free Hebrew fonts
http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Hebrew.html
http://oketz.com/fonts/

Hebrew Translations
Hebrew Translation
of names and phrases

More Hebrew language links

Semitic languages

Akkadian, Amharic, Arabic (Algerian), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Lebanese), Arabic (Modern Standard), Arabic (Moroccan), Arabic (Syrian), Aramaic, Argobba, Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian, Canaanite, Chaha, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Ge'ez, Hadhramautic, Hebrew, Himyaritic, Jewish Neo-Aramaic, Maltese, Mandaic, Nabataean, Neo-Mandaic, Phoenician, Punic, Qatabanic, Sabaean, Sabaic, Silt'e, Syriac, Tigre, Tigrinya, Turoyo, Ugaritic, Western Neo-Aramaic

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Languages written with the Hebrew script

Aramaic, Bukhori, Hebrew, Jewish Neo-Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Juhuri, Karaim, Ladino, Yiddish

Consonant alphabets (Abjads)

Ancient Berber, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandaic, Manichaean, Middle Persian, Nabataean, Parthian, Phoenician, Paleo-Hebrew, Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite, Psalter, Punic, Sabaean, Samaritan, Sogdian, South Arabian, Syriac, Tifinagh, Ugaritic

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/alphabet.html


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