The Hebrew Alphabet -
The Letter Dalet (ד)

ד

The Letter Dalet (ד)

The letter Dalet is the fourth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Dalet is actually the source of the Greek letter Delta, as you can see by the similarities in the two letters’ names. The English letter “D” is derived from Dalet, as well. While the specific reason for the letter being named Dalet is not known, many believe it is because one of the letter’s predecessors (in even more ancient languages than the Hebrew language) looked like a door. In the Hebrew language, the word for “door” is “delet.” As we see with other letters in the Hebrew alphabet, learning the Hebrew letters and where their names came from can be a good way of improving your Hebrew vocabulary as you continue learning the Hebrew language.

While Dalet is now almost universally pronounced like a normal English “D,” in the past it was not always this way. If you look at some Hebrew texts that have pronunciation markings, you may notice that the Dalet sometimes appears with a dot (dagesh) in the middle. While we now usually just ignore this dot, historically it changed the pronunciation of the letter from a “D” to more of a “Th” sound. This is the case with some other letters, and while it is not that practically useful for those learning the modern Hebrew language, it is still interesting to note how the Hebrew language and Hebrew pronunciation have evolved.

As was mentioned in the article about the letter Gimel, the Dalet is associated with the word “dal,” meaning “weak” or “needy.” In a more spiritual sense, this represents lowliness and perhaps a sense of humility, as well. If we connect this aspect of the letter to the origin letter’s name, however, we come out with an optimistic attitude. Despite Dalet being lowly, it is also a door, which can represent an opportunity for a transition from one thing to something which is hopefully better.

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