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Shin               Taf                       
Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Syriac Arabic
File:Phoenician Taf.svg ת Taf ܬ ﺗ,ﺕ
Greek Latin Cyrillic
Phonemic representation: t (also θ, s)
Position in alphabet: 22
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value: 400

Tav or Taf is the twenty-second and last letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Tav ת and Arabic alphabet ʾ . Its original sound value is a voiceless alveolar plosive, IPA /t/,

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Te (Т).


Origins of Taf

Phoenician alphabet
(ca. 1050–200 BCE)
𐤀    𐤁    𐤂    𐤃    𐤄    𐤅
𐤆    𐤇    𐤈    𐤉    𐤊    𐤋
𐤌    𐤍    𐤎    𐤏    𐤐
𐤑    𐤒    𐤓    𐤔    𐤕
Semitic abjads · Genealogy
Hebrew alphabet
(400 BCE–present)
א    ב    ג    ד    ה    ו
ז    ח    ט    י    כך
ל    מם    נן    ס    ע    פף
צץ    ק    ר    ש    ת
History · Transliteration
Niqqud · Dagesh · Gematria
Cantillation · Numeration
Syriac alphabet
(200 BCE–present)
ܐ    ܒ    ܓ    ܕ    ܗ    ܘ
ܙ    ܚ    ܛ    ܝ    ܟܟ    ܠ
ܡܡ    ܢܢ    ܣ    ܥ    ܦ
ܨ    ܩ    ܪ    ܫ    ܬ
Arabic alphabet
(400 CE–present)
ا    ب    ت    ث    ج    ح
خ    د    ذ    ر    ز    س
ش    ص    ض    ط    ظ    ع
غ    ف    ق    ك    ل
م    ن    ه    و    ي
History · Transliteration
Diacritics · Hamza ء
Numerals · Numeration

Taf is believed to have come from a simple mark; a cross or asterisk-like marking, perhaps indicating a signature.

Hebrew Tav

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ת ת ת Hebrew letter Taf handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Taf Rashi.png

Hebrew Pronunciation

The letter Tav in modern Hebrew usually represents a voiceless alveolar plosive /t/).

Variations on Written form/pronunciation

The letter Tav is one of the six letters which can receive a Dagesh Kal. The six are Bet, Gimmel, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Tav (see Hebrew Alphabet for more about these letters). Three of them (Bet, Kaph, and Pe) have their sound values changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three have the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. In traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation, Tav represented an /s/ (a form which is still heard today, especially among Diaspora Jews) without the dagesh, and had the plosive form when it had the dagesh. In some Sephardi areas, such as Yemen, Tav without a dagesh represented a voiceless dental fricative /θ/ without a dagesh and the plosive form with the dagesh. See Bet, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Gimmel.

Significance of Tav

In gematria Tav represents the number 400, the largest single number that can be represented without using the Sophit forms (see Kaph, Mem, Nun, Pe, and Tzade).

In representing names from foreign languages, a geresh or "chupchik" can also be placed after the tav ('ת), making it represent /θ/ /ð/.

In Judaism

Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means truth. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph, Mem, and Tav: אמת). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.

Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the Golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter "aleph" was erased from the Golem's forehead, what was left was "met"—death. And so the Golem died.

Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the Tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt.[1] In Ezekiel’s Old Testament vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a Tav, “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

In Ezekiel's vision, then, the Lord is counting Tav Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the Tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.[2]

Sayings with Taf

"From Aleph to Taf" describes something from beginning to end; the Hebrew equivalent of the English "From A to Z".

Syriac Taw

In the Syriac alphabet, as in the Hebrew and Phoenician alphabets, taw (ܬ) is the last letter in the alphabet. It represents either a hard /t/ (voiceless alveolar plosive) or a soft /θ/ (voiceless dental fricative).

Aramaic taw.png SyriacTaw.png ܬ

Arabic tā

The letter is named , and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Initial Medial Final
Form of letter: ت تـ ـتـ ـت

The form tā marbuta (ة ,ـة) is used at the end of words to mark feminine gender for nouns and adjectives (which in Arabic are considered to be two types of the same general class of words). Initial tā is used to mark feminine gender in third-person imperfective/present tense verbs. Final ت◌ (kasra, then tā, pronounced /it/) is used to mark feminine gender for third-person perfective/past tense verbs, while final تَ (tā-fata, /ta/) is used to mark past-tense second-person singular masculine verbs, final تِ (tā-kasra, /ti/) to mark past-tense second-person singular feminine verbs, and final تُ (tā-amma, /tu/) to mark past-tense first-person singular verbs. Recently the isolated ﺕ has been used online because it resembles a smiling face.

See also


  1. ^ Exodus 12:7,12.
  2. ^ Cf. the New Testament's condemnation of lukewarmness in Revelation 3:15-16


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