Samekh

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Samekh
Phonemic representation s
Position in alphabet 15
Numerical value 60
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Samekh or Simketh is the fifteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic, representing /s/. The Arabic alphabet, however, uses a letter based on Phoenician šin to represent /s/ (see there); however, that glyph takes Samekh's place in the traditional Abjadi order of the Arabic alphabet.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Xi (Ξ, ξ).[2]

Origins[edit]

The origin of Samekh is unclear. The Phoenician letter may continue a glyph from the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, either based on a hieroglyph for a tent peg / some kind of prop (s'mikhah, Hebrew: סמיכה‎, or t'mikhah, Hebrew: תמיכה‎, in modern Hebrew means to support), and thus may be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph djed.[citation needed]

R11

Hebrew Samekh[edit]

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
Script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ס ס ס Hebrew letter Samekh handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Samekh Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: סָמֶךְ

Pronunciation[edit]

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

Significance[edit]

Samekh in gematria has the value 60.

Samekh and Mem form the abbreviation for the Angel of Death, whose name in Hebrew is Samael. It also stands for centimetre.

In some legends, 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), on the other hand, attributes this instead to samekh, but samekh did not have such a hollow form in the sacred Paleo-Hebrew alphabet that would presumably have been used for the tablets. However, this would be appropriate for the Rabbis which maintained that the Torah or the Ten Commandments were given in the later Hebrew "Assyrian" script (Sanhedrin 21b-22a).

Character encodings[edit]

Character 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 𐎒 𐡎 𐤎
Unicode name UGARITIC LETTER SAMKA IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER SAMEKH PHOENICIAN LETTER SEMK
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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Arabic alphabet has no glyph of this origin. sīn, derived from Shin, takes its place in abjadi order.
  2. ^ 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.