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Tav

TAV

TAV (Taw ; Heb. ת;תָּו), the twenty-second and the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is 400. The basic pictographic shape of this letter consisted of two strokes crossing each other or , i.e., the simplest mark and hence its name taw. While in the Proto-Canaanite and in the early Phoenician scripts, until the tenth century b.c.e., both the x-shaped and the cross-shaped taw were used; in the ninth century b.c.e. the letter's stance was stabilized. The Hebrew script preserved the x-shaped and did not alter its form, but in the Samaritan script it became . On the other hand, the late Phoenician script adopted and developed the cross-shaped taw → → . and in the Aramaic script it evolved as follows: → → . The last form was the prototype of the Jewish taw and Arabic which developed through the Nabatean → → . The Greek (and Latin) "T" is a variation of the cross-shaped taw. See *Alphabet, Hebrew.

[Joseph Naveh]

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