Hebrew Alphabet

The Hebrew character in used at the present day, and in which the oldest existing manuscripts of the Bible are found written, is not only the same that was employed at the time of Jerome, viz. in the fourth century and fifth centuries after Christ, but is even spoken of in the Talmud, and still earlier in the Mishna, by the name of כתב אשׁוּרית Assyrian writing, as consisting of the Assyrian or the Aramaean letters which they affirmed to have been brought by Ezra from Assyria on the returning with his fellow-exiles from the Babylonian captivity. This character is likewise called by the writers of the Talmud מרבע כתב square writing, on account of its angular form, to distinguish it from the more flowing text in ordinary use, which they denominated כתב עגול round writing. This square hand is that which bears the greatest resemblance to the letters found on the Palmyrene monuments and in the Carpentras inscriptions. That this does not extend further back than the commencement of the Christian era, is proved from the inspection of the coins struck in the time of the Asmonean princes, the alphabet of which is called in the time of Talmud כתב עברי , || i.e. in Hebrew writing (κατ’ εξοχηη), and has a greater similarity to the Samaritan and Phoenician.

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