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Two sounds to the letter “ח” (het)

Mon | Mar 00

Two sounds to the letter “ח” (het)

ח

The letter ח”ת (het) is pronounced by most Hebrew speakers today the same way the כ is pronounced – like a kh sound (not found in Modern English). In some Jewish communities (North African, Yemenite), however, it is still pronounced just above the throat, with no voice – like a scratchy “h” sound.

This guttural sound was one of two sounds that the letter ח represented in Biblical Hebrew. The other sound was more similar to today’s כ.

And what did the כ sound like (represented without a dot in the middle)? It was a “k” sound (כּ), but slightly softer than a regular “k” when following a vowel – such as in the word אָכֵן (ah-KHEN – indeed).

ח is the first letter in the word חוֹמָה (hoh-MAH), which means “wall” (such as that of a city). Today is Shushan Purim, or the observance of Purim in cities that have had a wall standing since the days of Joshua. Jerusalem is one of those cities.

So happy Shushan Purim!

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