Learning the Hebrew Alphabet

Lesson Two

Learning Five More Very Common Hebrew Letters
Using Hebrew Words We Already Know

To learn two more common Hebrew letters, let's look at a Hebrew word we all know very well: Amen. It means, "truly."

The , or mem, actually bears some resemblance to an M, making it relatively easy to memorize. The , or nun, looks like a small n which has been squished and rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

There is a closely related word to Amen, which is the Hebrew word for faithful. It is spelled by simply adding a nun at the beginning of Amen. In a real sense, to say that something or someone is true is to say that they are faithful.

Having learned the letter mem, we are now ready to spell out the full name of God (Elohim).

(Note: In Hebrew, several consonants are written differently when they appear at the end a word. The mem at the end of the Name Elohim (and at the end of Yom) should be a mem sofit or final mem. For the purposes of these exercises in learning the Hebrew alphabet, we will not use the mem sofit at this time, but will teach it at a later date.)

The Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, means Day of Atonement. So, you should know that yom means day.

To learn one more common Hebrew letter, , kaf, let's look at the name Michael, which means, "Who is like God?"

Notice that the kaf looks like a C that has been flipped left to right, or rotated 180 degrees.

Now, let's learn the letter , bet. Many people know the Hebrew word for father, which is abba.

The letter bet looks a bit like the kaf, except that it has a flat bottom that extends to the right. One way to remember it is that it looks a bit like a house, with a foundation, a wall and a roof. In fact, each letter in Hebrew has a meaning, and the letter bet means house in Hebrew. Another way to remember bet is to think of the Hebrew word that we pronounce as Bethel, which means "House of God."

To spell Bethel in Hebrew, we will need to learn another letter, , tav. To remember tav, just think of a tent or table.

Genesis 28:19 tells the story of Jacob and his naming of Bethel.

Another Hebrew name we all know is Ben. In Hebrew, ben means son.

As we all know, Ben is a short form of Benjamin.

Another Biblical name we all know is Nathan, pronounced nah-tahn, which means "he gave."

Putting together the Hebrew words for "son" and "is given" we now have:

This is part of Isaiah 9:5: "For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us . . . "

Yet another Biblical name common today is Anna, which means, "I beg you."


To review, here are the five new Hebrew letters we have just learned.

The ten letters below are the top ten most-frequent letters in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, these ten letters account for nearly two-thirds of all the Hebrew letters in the Old Testament. So, once you have learned them, you have made tremendous progress in learning the Hebrew alphabet. In terms of usage, you are two-thirds done!

Continue to Exercise Two

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