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What About The “Phoenician” Alphabet?

Top: Ktav AshuritBottom: Ktav Ivri/Phoenician.

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According to Jewish tradition,

there are two foundational scripts of the Hebrew Aleph Bet.

First there is Ktav Ashurit, the script that can be found on an authentic Torah Scroll. An authentic Torah scroll is the closest replica of what was transmitted to Moses, and by Moses to the nation, at Sinai. When one studies the depth, interconnectivity, and timelessness of the symbols, it becomes clear that they are indeed the work of an Infinite Creator who exists outside the confines of time and space.

עץ: The Code for a Tree

The Torah states that all of creation is composed of the energy of these symbols, used by the Infinite Creator when He “spoke” the world into existence. One can understand this as something that existed in potential until it was brought into proper existence. The physical symbols were not written down, but the concept of the symbols themselves existed and eventually became manifest in the physical world. This makes sense from a logical perspective: in order for one to speak, one must think the words, create the sound, and then modulate the sound with the throat, teeth, and tongue. After the words have been conceptualized, they have the capability of being written down. An easy way to see this phenomenon is to look at a tree and juxtapose its structure with the structure of the Biblical Hebrew word עץ. The word עץ had yet to be written down, yet the fractal nature of a tree can be seen clearly.

There is disagreement as to when the Ashurit script was first written down, but most Biblical scholars agree that the first set of the Ten Commandments were chiseled in the Ashurit script.

The second script is called Ktav Ivri, or Paleo-Hebrew. Ktav Ivri is primarily used as an everyday shorthand for speed, and for mundane purposes. When looking at Ktav Ivri, it is striking how clearly the shapes of the letters of the English Alphabet are predicated on Ktav Ivri. The primary secular view is that the Greek Alphabet which gave rise to the written form of all of today’s major languages,1 was derived from the Phoenician Alphabet. The Phoenicians were a people who lived in the same area and around the same time as Abraham2, the father of monotheism. When juxtaposing the Phoenician Alphabet with Ktav Ivri, it turns out they are exactly the same script.

Ktav Ivri = Phoenician

This truth brings up many questions. Why are the Phoenicians credited as the originators of the script when it is unclear who actually first put the script down on paper? Was Abraham a Phoenician before he became the first to accept and spread the Truth of the One Creator and convert to Judaism? Did Abraham use an existing “Phoenician” script which was allowed to come into being through the will of the Infinite and then mold that script into Ktav Ashurit? Was the concept of Ktav Ivri/Phoenician Alphabet created before Creation as was done with Ktav Ashurit, and then the “Phoenicians” first manifested it in the physical world?

These are all interesting questions worth exploring. Bluntly stating that the first alphabet is solely the work of the “Phoenicians” is reductive, and doesn’t take many factors into account—including the fact that we don’t know much about the Phoenicians. We don’t even know what the Phoenicians called themselves. The term “Phoenician” is actually a Greek word to describe the people living in the Canaanite areas during the time of Abraham.

However, the most interesting question is—does it even matter who first wrote the script down in the physical world?

More on The Aleph Bet:


  1. Aside for the Asian languages

  2. The timeline of Jewish History (Seder Olam) actually dates the birth of Abraham 700 years prior to the oldest “Phoenician” artifact.

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