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VAV (Waw; Heb. ו;וָו), the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is therefore 6. In the mid-second millennium b.c.e. proto-Sinaitic inscriptions the letter resembled a mace or a peg (= vav) . Later the circular top opened and in the tenth century b.c.e., the letter had two variants: the Y-shaped vav and the 4-shaped one . While the first form was accepted in the Hebrew script and was written → → → (Samaritan ), the Phoenician and the Aramaic scripts adapted the 4-shaped vav. In the Phoenician script it developed → → , and in the Aramaic – → → → . The Nabatean vav closed its top and hence the Arabic evolved. The Jewish vav → basically preserved the Aramaic shape of the letter.

The old Phoenician waw is the ancestor of some Latin letters: the consonant "F", which developed from the Archaic Greek digamma; "Y" (the Greek vowel (upsilon), which is the first of the five letters added by the Greeks to their alphabet and which the Romans turned into "U" and "V". See *Alphabet, Hebrew.

[Joseph Naveh]

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