LAMED (Heb. ל;לָמֶד), the 12th letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is 30. The earliest representation of this letter is a pictograph of an ox-goad , . The Phoenician script in the 11th century B.C.E. fixed the stance of the lamed, so that the curve was drawn as the base . In the later Phoenician, as well as in the Hebrew and Aramaic, scripts there was a tendency to sharpen the curve into an angle . The diagonal upper stroke began at a higher point than the other letters of the alphabet, while the rightward base was drawn just beneath the ceiling line. In the fifth-century B.C.E. Phoenician lamed, a leftward bar resembling a tail was added at the right extremity of its base . A similar development occurred in the fourth-century Aramaic script. As the Aramaic lamed of this period consisted of a high vertical downstroke, curving under the ceiling line to the right , the new form with the tail easily turned in the Aramaic cursive into a wavy line . (The Hebrew as well as the Samaritan lamed never developed such a tail.) The Hebrew script preserved the tail of the Aramaic lamed, and it became a main part of the letter . The Arabic script adopted the Nabatean cursive lamed , which is a descendant of the Aramaic wavy line form. The modern Hebrew cursive lamed, which developed from the Hebrew book-hand shape of this letter, is essentially also some variation of a wavy line: . See *Alphabet, Hebrew.

[Joseph Naveh]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.