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ṢADE (Ẓadi; Heb. יaצ, ץ; צָי, צָ), the eighteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is 90. It is assumed that the earliest form of the ṣade was a pictograph of a blossom . In the late second and early first millennia b.c.e., the ṣade became . In the Hebrew script, from the eighth century b.c.e. onward, the downstroke was shortened and a hook was added on the letter's right side , which has been preserved in the Samaritan . The Phoenician and Aramaic scripts lengthened the downstroke and thus in the fifth century b.c.e. Aramaic script three forms developed: , , . While from the first form, through the Nabatean , the Arabic ṣad evolved, the Jewish script adopted the third form, which was the ancestor of the medial and final ṣade. See *Alphabet, Hebrew.

[Joseph Naveh]