Samekh

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Samekh (Phoenician sāmek 𐤎 ; Hebrew samekh סָמֶךְ‎, Syriac semkaṯ) is the fifteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including the Hebrew alphabet.

Samekh
Phonemic representations
Position in alphabet15
Numerical value60
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Samekh represents a voiceless alveolar fricative /s/. Unlike most Semitic consonants, the pronunciation of /s/ remains constant between vowels and before voiced consonants.

The numerical value of samekh is 60.

HistoryEdit

The Phoenician letter may continue a glyph from the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, either based on a hieroglyph for a tent peg or support, possibly the djed "pillar" hieroglyph[clarification needed][1] (c.f. Hebrew root סמך s-m-kh 'support', סֶמֶךְ semekh 'support, rest', סוֹמֵךְ somekh 'support peg, post', סוֹמְכָה somkha 'armrest', סָמוֹכָה smokha 'stake, support', indirectly s'mikhah סמיכה; Aramaic סַמְכָא samkha 'socket, base', סְמַךְ smakh 'support, help'; Syriac ܣܡܟܐ semkha 'support').

The shape of samek undergoes complicated developments. In archaic scripts, the vertical stroke can be drawn either across or below the three horizontal strokes. The closed form of Hebrew samek is developed only in the Hasmonean period.[2]

Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew
(c. 800 BC)
Samaritan
(c. 400 BC)
Imperial Aramaic
(c. 400 BC)
Hebrew
(from ca. 50 BC)
       


The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek xi (Ξ),[3] whereas its name may also be reflected in the name of the otherwise unrelated Greek letter sigma.[4]

The archaic "grid" shape of Western Greek xi ( ) was adopted in the early Etruscan alphabet (𐌎 esh), but was never included in the Latin alphabet.

Syriac semkatEdit

The Syriac letter semkaṯ ܣܡܟܬ develops from the Imperial Aramaic "hook" shape 𐡎 into a rounded form by the 1st century. The Old Syriac form further develops into a connected cursive both in the Eastern and Western script variants.

Aramaic Old Syriac Eastern Western
       

Hebrew samekhEdit

Hebrew samekh develops a closed cursive form in the middle Hasmonean period (1st century BC). This becomes the standard form in early Herodian hands.[2]

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ס ס ס    

Talmudic legendEdit

In Talmudic legend, samekh is said to have been a miracle of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 32:15 records that the tablets "were written on both their sides." The Jerusalem Talmud interprets this as meaning that the inscription went through the full thickness of the tablets. The stone in the center parts of the letters ayin and teth should have fallen out, as it was not connected to the rest of the tablet, but it miraculously remained in place. The Babylonian Talmud (tractate Shabbat 104a) also cites the opinion that these closed letters included samekh, attributed to Rav Chisda (d. ca. 320).[5]


Arabic Sīn & Nabataean SimkathEdit

Samekh has no continuant in the Arabic alphabet, its numerical value is taken by Arabic Šīn. However the Nabataean alphabet, which is the direct ancestor to the Arabic alphabet, contained the letter Simkath .

Moreover, the letter Sīn takes over the place of Simkath/Samekh at the 15th position of the Arabic abjadi sequence.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
س ـس ـسـ سـ

Character encodingsEdit

Character information
Preview ס ܣ ܤ
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER SAMEKH SYRIAC LETTER SEMKATH SYRIAC LETTER FINAL SEMKATH SAMARITAN LETTER SINGAAT
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1505 U+05E1 1827 U+0723 1828 U+0724 2062 U+080E
UTF-8 215 161 D7 A1 220 163 DC A3 220 164 DC A4 224 160 142 E0 A0 8E
Numeric character reference ס ס ܣ ܣ ܤ ܤ ࠎ ࠎ
Character information
Preview 𐎒 𐡎 𐤎
Unicode name UGARITIC LETTER SAMKA IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER SAMEKH PHOENICIAN LETTER SEMKA
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66450 U+10392 67662 U+1084E 67854 U+1090E
UTF-8 240 144 142 146 F0 90 8E 92 240 144 161 142 F0 90 A1 8E 240 144 164 142 F0 90 A4 8E
UTF-16 55296 57234 D800 DF92 55298 56398 D802 DC4E 55298 56590 D802 DD0E
Numeric character reference 𐎒 𐎒 𐡎 𐡎 𐤎 𐤎
Character information
Preview 𐢖 س
Unicode name NABATAEAN LETTER SAMEKH ARABIC LETTER SEEN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 67734 U+10896 1587 U+0633
UTF-8 240 144 162 150 F0 90 A2 96 216 179 D8 B3
UTF-16 55298 56470 D802 DC96 1587 0633
Numeric character reference 𐢖 𐢖 س س

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Betro, M. C. (1996). Hieroglyphics. Abbeyville Press, NY, p. 209.
  2. ^ a b Frank Moore Cross, Leaves from an Epigrapher's Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy (2018), p. 30.
  3. ^ Muss-Arnolt, W. (1892). On Semitic Words in Greek and Latin. Transactions of the American Philological Association v. 23, p. 35-156. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  4. ^ Jeffery, Lilian H. (1961). The local scripts of archaic Greece. Oxford: Clarendon. pp. 25–27.
  5. ^ The William Davidson Talmud , Shabbat 104a.