Cursive Hebrew

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Cursive Hebrew (Hebrew: כתב עברי רהוט‎ ktav ivri rahut, "Flowing Hebrew Writing", or כתב יד עברי ktav yad 'ivri, "Hebrew Handwriting", often called simply כתב ktav, "Writing") is a collective designation for several styles of handwriting the Hebrew alphabet. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_0

Modern Hebrew, especially in informal use in Israel, is handwritten with the Ashkenazi cursive script that had developed in Central Europe by the 13th century. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_1

This is also a mainstay of handwritten Yiddish. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_2

It was preceded by a Sephardi cursive script, known as Solitreo, that is still used for Ladino. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_3

Contemporary forms Cursive Hebrew_section_0

As with all handwriting, cursive Hebrew displays considerable individual variation. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_4

The forms in the table below are representative of those in present-day use. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_5

The names appearing with the individual letters are taken from the Unicode standard and may differ from their designations in the various languages using them – see Hebrew alphabet / Pronunciation of letter names for variation in letter names. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_6

(Table is organized right-to-left reflecting Hebrew's lexicographic mode.) Cursive Hebrew_sentence_7

Cursive Hebrew_table_general_0

Alef אCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_0 Bet בCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_1 Gimel גCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_2 Daled דCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_3 He הCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_4 Vav וCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_5 Zayin זCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_6 Het חCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_7 Tet טCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_8 Yod יCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_9 Kaf כ / ךCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_0_10
Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_0 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_1 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_2 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_3 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_4 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_5 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_6 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_7 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_8 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_9 /Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_1_10
Lamed לCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_0 Mem מ / םCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_1 Nun נ / ןCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_2 Samekh סCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_3 Ayin עCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_4 Pe פ / ףCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_5 Tsadi צ / ץCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_6 Qof קCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_7 Resh רCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_8 Shin שCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_9 Tav תCursive Hebrew_header_cell_0_2_10
Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_0 /Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_1 /Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_2 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_3 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_4 /Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_5 /Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_6 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_7 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_8 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_9 Cursive Hebrew_cell_0_3_10

Note: Final forms are to the left of the initial/medial forms. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_8

Historical forms Cursive Hebrew_section_1

This table shows the development of cursive Hebrew from the 7th through the 19th centuries. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_9

This is discussed in the following section, which makes reference to the columns in the table, numbered 1 through 14. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_10

Figure 3: "Cursive Writing" (Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906). Cursive Hebrew_sentence_11

Column: Cursive Hebrew_sentence_12

Cursive Hebrew_ordered_list_0

  1. Incantation upon Babylonian dishCursive Hebrew_item_0_0
  2. Egyptian, 12th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_1
  3. Constantinople, 1506.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_2
  4. 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_3
  5. Spanish, dated 1480.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_4
  6. Spanish, 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_5
  7. Provençal, 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_6
  8. Italian, 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_7
  9. Greek, dated 1375.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_8
  10. Italian, dated 1451.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_9
  11. Italian, 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_10
  12. German, 10th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_11
  13. Eleazer of Worms, copied at Rome in 1515 by Elias LevitaCursive Hebrew_item_0_12
  14. Ashkenazi, 19th century.Cursive Hebrew_item_0_13

History Cursive Hebrew_section_2

The brief inscriptions daubed in red ink upon the walls of the catacombs of Venosa are probably the oldest examples of cursive script. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_13

Still longer texts in a cursive alphabet are furnished by the clay bowls found in Babylonia and bearing exorcisms against magical influences and evil spirits. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_14

These bowls date from the 7th or 8th century, and some of the letters are written in a form that is very antiquated (Figure 3, column 1). Cursive Hebrew_sentence_15

Somewhat less of a cursive nature is the manuscript, which dates from the 8th century. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_16

Columns 2–14 exhibit cursive scripts of various countries and centuries. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_17

The differences visible in the square alphabets are much more apparent. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_18

For instance, the Sephardi rounds off still more, and, as in Arabic, there is a tendency to run the lower lines to the left, whereas the Ashkenazi script appears cramped and disjointed. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_19

Instead of the little ornaments at the upper ends of the stems, in the letters a more or less weak flourish of the line appears. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_20

For the rest the cursive of the Codices remains fairly true to the square text. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_21

Documents of a private nature were certainly written in a much more running hand, as the sample from one of the oldest Arabic letters written with Hebrew letters (possibly the 10th century) clearly shows in the papyrus, in "Führer durch die Ausstellung", Table XIX., Vienna, 1894, (compare Figure 3, column 4). Cursive Hebrew_sentence_22

However, since the preservation of such letters were not held to be of importance, material of this nature from the earlier times is very scarce, and as a consequence the development of the script is very hard to follow. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_23

The last two columns of Figure 3 exhibit the Ashkenazi cursive script of a later date. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_24

The next to the last is taken from a manuscript of Elias Levita. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_25

The accompanying specimen presents Sephardi script. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_26

In this flowing cursive alphabet the ligatures appear more often. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_27

They occur especially in letters which have a sharp turn to the left (ג, ז, כ, נ, צ, ח), and above all in נ, whose great open bow offers ample space for another letter (see Figure 2). Cursive Hebrew_sentence_28

The following are the successive stages in the development of each letter: Cursive Hebrew_sentence_29

Cursive Hebrew_unordered_list_1

  • Alef is separated into two parts, the first being written as , and the perpendicular stroke placed at the left . By the turn of the 20th century, Ashkenazi cursive had these two elements separated, thus ׀c, and the acute angle was rounded. It received also an abbreviated form connected with the favorite old ligature , and it is to this ligature of Alef and Lamed that the contracted Oriental Aleph owes its origin (Figure 3, column 7).Cursive Hebrew_item_1_14
  • In writing Bet, the lower part necessitated an interruption, and to overcome this obstacle it was made , and, with the total omission of the whole lower line, .Cursive Hebrew_item_1_15
  • In Gimel, the left-hand stroke is lengthened more and more.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_16
  • Dalet had its stroke put on obliquely to distinguish it from Resh; however, since in rapid writing it easily assumed a form similar in appearance to Resh, Dalet in analogy with ב was later changed to .Cursive Hebrew_item_1_17
  • A transformation very similar to this took place in the cases of final Kaf and of Qof (see columns 2, 5, 11, 14), except that Kaf opened out a trifle more than Qof.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_18
  • The lower part of Zayin was bent sharply to the right and received a little hook at the bottom.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_19
  • The left-hand stroke of Ṭet was lengthened.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_20
  • Lamed gradually lost its semicircle until (as in both Nabataean and Syriac) by the turn of the 20th century, it became a simple stroke, which was bent sharply toward the right. In the modern script today the Lamed has regained its semicircle.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_21
  • Final Mem branches out at the bottom, and in its latest stage is drawn out either to the left or straight down.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_22
  • In Samekh the same development also took place, but it afterward became again a simple circle.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_23
  • To write 'Ayin without removing the pen from the surface, its two strokes were joined with a curl.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_24
  • The two forms of the letter Pe spread out in a marked flourish.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_25
  • For Tsadi the right-hand head is made longer, at first only to a small degree, but later on to a considerable extent.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_26
  • In the beginning Shin develops similarly to the same letter in Nabataean, but afterward the central stroke is lengthened upward, like the right arm of Tsadi, and finally it is joined with the left stroke, and the first stroke is left off altogether.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_27
  • The letters ה, ד, ח, ן, נ, ר, ת, have undergone little modification: they have been rounded out and simplified by the omission of the heads.Cursive Hebrew_item_1_28

Samaritan Hebrew Cursive Hebrew_section_3

The Samaritans are an ethnic group descended from the Israelites and are a sister people to the Jews. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_30

Whereas the Israelites and later Hebrews suffered a number of exoduses and deportations over the course of history, Samaritans for the most part remained in Israel since ancient times. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_31

As a result, the Hebrew language of the Samaritans is written in a unique abjad from that of Hebrew; this abjad is called the Samaritan alphabet. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_32

Thanks to the Samaritans' sedentary residence in Israel, the script of Samaritan Hebrew is a direct descendant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, the script which the Jews abandoned in favor of the modern Ktav Ashuri script in the 4th century BCE. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_33

Samaritan Hebrew, as standard Hebrew does, has its own cursive script. Cursive Hebrew_sentence_34

Cursive Hebrew_table_general_1

A'laf ࠀCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_0 Bit ࠁCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_1 Ga'man ࠂCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_2 Da'lat ࠃCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_3 Iy ࠄCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_4 Ba ࠅCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_5 Zen ࠆCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_6 It ࠇCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_7 Tit ࠈCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_8 Yut ࠉCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_9 Kaf ࠊCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_0_10
Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_0 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_1 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_2 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_3 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_4 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_5 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_6 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_7 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_8 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_9 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_1_10
La'bat ࠋCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_0 Mim ࠌCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_1 Nun ࠍCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_2 Sin'gat ࠎCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_3 In ࠏCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_4 Fi ࠐCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_5 Sa'diy ࠑCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_6 Quf ࠒCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_7 Rish ࠓCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_8 Shan ࠔCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_9 Taf ࠕCursive Hebrew_header_cell_1_2_10
Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_0 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_1 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_2 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_3 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_4 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_5 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_6 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_7 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_8 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_9 Cursive Hebrew_cell_1_3_10

See also Cursive Hebrew_section_4

Cursive Hebrew_unordered_list_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Hebrew.