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Hebrew Alphabet

The origin of alphabetic script has always been a subject of human curiosity. According to Greek mythology, script was brought to Greece from Phoenicia. This tradition was accepted by the Greek and Roman writers, some of whom developed it even further, and stated that the Phoenicians learned the art of writing from the Egyptians. In the 19th century there were scholars who subscribed to the theory of the Egyptian origin, while others believed that the Phoenician script developed from the Akkadian cuneiform, Cretan linear, Cypriote syllabic, and Hittite hieroglyphic scripts.

This entry is arranged according to the following outline


NORTH-WEST SEMITIC: S.A. Birnbaum, The Hebrew Scripts, 2 vols. (1954–57); G.R. Driver, Semitic Writing, from Pictograph to Alphabet (19542); Avigad, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 4 (1958), 56–87; Cross, in: The Bible and the Ancient Near East, Essays in Honor of W.F. Albright (1961), 133–202; Cross, in: BASOR, 165 (1962), 34–42; 168 (1962), 18–23; I.J. Gelb, A Study of Writing (19652); W.F. Albright, The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and their Decipherment (1966); Cross, in: Eretz-Israel, 8 (1967), 8*–24*; D. Diringer, The Alphabet, a Key to the History of Mankind, 2 vols. (19683); J.B. Peskham, The Development of the Late Phoenician Scripts (1968); J.D. Purvis, The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the Samaritan Sect (1968). MASHAIT SCRIPT: W. Wright, Facsimiles of Manuscripts and Inscriptions (Oriental Series; 1875–83); C.D. Ginsburg, A Series of 15 Facsimiles… (1897); P. Kahle, Masoreten des Ostens (1913); E. Tisserant, Specimina Codicum Orientalium (1914); C. Bernheimer, Catalogue des manuscrits et livres rares hébraïques de la Bibliothèque du Talmud Tora de Livourne (1914); idem, Paleografia Ebraica (It., 1924), 1–34; Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts… of E.N. Adler (1921); A.Z. Schwarz, Die hebraeischen Handschriften der Nationalbibliothek in Wien (1925); P. Kahle, Masoreten des Westens (1927); idem, Die hebraeischen Bibelhandschriften aus Babylonien (1928) = ZAW, 46 (1928), 113–37 and tables; D.S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, 2 vols. (Eng., 1932); S.A. Birnbaum, The Qumrân (Dead Sea) Scrolls and Palaeography (1952). BRAILLE: C.N. Mackenzie, World Braille Usage (1954), 109–12; G. Kronfeld, Braille Ivri (1956); E. Katz, Ha-Braille ha-Ivri (1957).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.