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Biblical Hebrew (Classical Hebrew) is an archaic form of the Hebrew language, in which the Old Testament was written, and which the ancient Israelites spoke. It is not spoken in its pure form today, although it is studied by religious Jews and Christian theologians, linguists and Israeli archaeologists. Biblical Hebrew is easily read by anyone familiar with modern Hebrew. The differences between Biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew are mainly in grammar and Biblical Hebrew's distinct writing style.
From a linguistic point of view, the Classical Hebrew language is usually divided into two periods: Biblical Hebrew, and Roman Era Hebrew, having very distinct grammatical patterns.
|Aleph||א||-||-||Glottal stop. One of two silent letters. Usually appears at the start of a syllable to make the syllable start with a vowel sound.|
|Bet||בּ||b||b||Sounds just like the English letter B.|
|Vet||ב||v||v||Sounds just like the English letter V.|
|Gimel||ג||g||ɡ||Sounds like a hard g as in give|
|Dalet||ד||d||d||Sounds like d as in dog.|
|He||ה||h||h||Sounds like the English letter H when it's in the beginning or middle of a word. At the end of a word, it is silent.|
|Vav||ו||v||v||Sounds like v as in vacuum. Also used to make a couple of vowel sounds.|
|Zayin||ז||z||z||Sounds like z as in zoo.|
|Het||ח||kh||χ||This is a sound that English doesn't have. It sounds like the ch in the German name Bach or in the Scottish word loch. It is the throat clearing guttural sound.|
|Tet||ט||t||t||Sounds like t as in tetris.|
|Yod||י||y||j||Sounds like y as in yard. It can also change the sound of the vowel that precedes it.|
|Kaf||כּ||k||k||Sounds like k as in kitten.|
|Kaf Final||ךּ||k||k||Rarely used (almost no words end with Kaf).|
|Khaf||כ||kh||x||Sounds just like Het, except that it isn't guttural.|
|Lamed||ל||l||l||Sounds like l as in lamb.|
|Mem||מ||m||m||Sounds like m as in mother|
|Nun||נ||n||n||Sounds like n as in name.|
|Samech||ס||s||s||Sounds like s as in safe.|
|Ayin||ע||-||ʔ||Like French (Gutteral) R.|
|Pe||פּ||p||p||Sounds like p as in port|
|Fe||פ||f||f||Sounds like f as in fame|
|Tsadi||צ||tz||ʦ||often written 'ts' but is a single sound (just like 'ch' can be written 'tsh' yet is in fact a single sound).|
|Qof||ק||k||k||Sounds like Kaf in modern Hebrew, but was originally pronounced with pressure in the throat ([q]).|
|Resh||ר||r||ɾ||Sounds like the letter R, but is not pronounced exactly the same as in English. At the beginning or in the middle of a word it is slightly rolled so that its sound is somewhere between the English "R" and the Spanish rolled "R". The tongue bounces off the roof of the mouth just once. (The Ashkenazi pronunciation is [ʁ].)|
|Shin||שׁ or ש||sh||ʃ||Sounds like sh as in ship|
|Sin||שׂ||s||s||Sounds like s as in soon|
|Tav||ת||t||t||Sounds like t as in tomato|