YOD (Heb. י; יוֹד, יוּד), the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is therefore 10. The Proto-Canaanite form of this letter was a stylized pictograph of a hand (= yad) with forearm , . In the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.E., the yod developed into which basically did not change in the Hebrew (, , ), Samaritan (), and Phoenician (, ) scripts. However, the Aramaic cursive reduced it as follows: and in the fourth and third centuries B.C.E. two variants evolved. One resembles the numeral "2" and the other has an inverted-v form . While the Nabatean developed the 2-shaped yod (which turned into the Arabic ya ), the Jewish script adopted the inverted-v shape and preserved the small size of the letter (), so it could be distinguished from the longer waw. From the old Phoenician yod, the Greek iota and the Latin "I" developed. See *Alphabet, Hebrew.

[Joseph Naveh]

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