In order to understand Hebrew writing, the first thing you need to know is that there are two types of Hebrew writing: square and cursive writing.
Square Hebrew writing is the script found in books and newspapers. It may appear in different fonts, but most of the fonts look quite similar.
Hebrew writing (square) has existed for almost two thousand years and has been found in inscriptions from the Second Temple period. This script was written on paper, parchment and stone by professional scribes who were well educated and very familiar with Hebrew writing. They worked very carefully and gave each letter and word the honor it was due.
Over time, as Hebrew writing became more commonly known and people began to write with paper and pens, people wanted to write more quickly and weren’t as accurate with the design of their letters. This helped to create a new type of script—cursive Hebrew writing.
With the development of computers, the design of both square and cursive Hebrew writing has developed. Today, there are many Hebrew writing font designs, all of which preserve the basic shapes of square Hebrew writing.
The most famous text that contains square Hebrew writing is that found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These are relatively long texts that were very well preserved. They are written in a special Hebrew writing that is the base for the square Hebrew writing found in sacred writings, the Torah scrolls, and similar.
Hebrew writing went through many changes before it reached its final form. In fact, it started in the form of drawings. For example, the letterא was originally a drawing of a bull known as an “אלוף” in the Hebrew language. The letter “בית” was once a picture of a house בית.
As more people began reading, there was a need to increase the speed of producing Hebrew writing. These simple drawings became signs and these signs eventually became the Hebrew letters we know today. Later still, cursive Hebrew writing developed.
Do you want to Write Hebrew? Here are some tips about Hebrew Writing
Now that we have learned about Hebrew writing, it’s a good time to talk about how to write Hebrew.
When you write Hebrew, you should know that there are letters known as consonants. These are א, ה, ו, י
These letters help guide readers on how to read the Hebrew writing. Sometimes these letters act as ordinary letters and are pronounced. Other times, they simply instruct the reader on how to pronounce other letters.
How are these letters pronounced?
א - aa – This letter usually acts as a אות ניקוד when it appears at the end of a word.
ה – aa or e. This letter also usually functions at the end of a word.
ו – o or u. This letter is very common in Hebrew writing and generally appears in the middle or end of a word.
י – yi This letter is also quite common in Hebrew writing, and generally appears at the middle or end of a word.
Let’s look at the letter ו in the word שלום. In this word, the letter ו tells us to pronounce the letter ל as “lo”.
Spelling in Hebrew Writing: Spelling – Full and Missing Script
When reading texts in Hebrew, you may notice that the same word sometimes appears with two different spellings. For example, it may appear in one place the letter ו and in another place without it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are two different words. It could actually be the same word that is being written in two different ways.
That because there are two ways of spelling in Hebrew writing. One type is called כתיב מלא ktiv maleh full Hebrew writing and it is when a word is written with all its letters. The other type of writing is כתיב חסר ktiv haser missing Hebrew writing. This is when letters such as ו or י are left out.
Are there rules regarding when to write Hebrew in full Hebrew script and when to write in missing Hebrew script?
Usually, when vocalization is used in the text, missing Hebrew writing is used. Today, because most Hebrew script is written without punctuation, words are often written in full Hebrew writing. However, you may notice that words written with punctuation often appear in full Hebrew writing anyway. This is because people have become used to seeing reading unpunctuated texts written in full Hebrew writing, so this style has become dominant.
In our Bereshit and Yanshuf newspapers, we almost always use full Hebrew writing, even though most of the articles are written with punctuation. This is done so that readers get used to reading Hebrew writing as it appears in most Hebrew books and newspapers.