Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


Introducing SimHebrew: Hebrew unbound

If you ever wondered why the Russian letter sha (ш) is so similar to the Hebrew letter shin (ש) (which, to be frank, you probably haven’t, unless you’re a Russian-speaking Israeli), the reason is, of course, that the Cyrillic alphabet is derived from the Greek one, which in turn was derived from the Phoenician alphabet, which was also the original Hebrew alphabet, in which the shin was a w-like character:

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Why do Greek, Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, etc. have names for their letters like alpha, beta, lamda?

The names of the Hebrew/Phoenician alphabet were given by the ingenious Canaanite slave(s) who first invented them some time in the 1900s BCE, possibly in Wadi El-Hol in Egypt:

Detail of an inscription on a rock face in Wadi El-Hol, Egypt (near the Valley of the Kings)

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Did the name of the Greek god of light Apollo come from the Hebrew demon Abaddon?

(My answer to this question at

No, but close: the name Abaddon (in Hebrew, אבדון, avaddon, from the root a-b-d, from which the words ibed = lose, avad = gone, and others are derived) was translated as Apollyon (Ἀπολλύων, “the Destroyer”) in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

In either case, the Greek name is of native Greek provenance, not derived from Hebrew.