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The Letter Samekh
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Summary

The Letter Samekh

The fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “Samekh” (pronounced “sah-mekh”) and has the sound of “s” as in “son.”

In modern Hebrew, the letter Samekh can appear in three forms:

Forms of Samekh

Write the manual print version (or "block" version) of Samekh as follows:

Samekh Block

Note that the top stroke has an “overhang” on the left.

And the cursive version:

Samekh Script

The script form of Samekh looks like an English capital “O.”

Write the letter Samekh (from right to left) in both manual print and script several times:

Practice Grid

Note: Be careful not to confuse the book print shape of Samekh with the letter Mem, and especially Mem Sofit.

Samekh Summary

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Advanced Information

The letter Samekh is the 15th letter of the Aleph-Bet, having the numeric value of 60. The pictograph for Samekh looks something like a shield, whereas the classical Hebrew script (Ketav Ashurit) is constructed of a circular shape with a squared left corner:

Samekh


According to Jewish midrash, the Ten Commandments were written by the “finger of God”
(Ex. 31:18) upon two “tablets of stone” made of blue sapphire as a symbol of the heavens and God's throne. According to rabbinic tradition they were perfect cubes, with the letters bored fully through the stone (Ex. 32:15). This was a miracle, since the inner part of the Samekh “floated” in place.

  1. The Meaning of Samekh
    The root of the word Samekh means “to lean upon,” “to uphold,” or “to support.” The root is also found in the Jewish concept of semikhah, the laying on of hands upon the head of a sacrificial victim in a blood ritual of the Jewish Temple, which was also a means of consecrating the priesthood (Lev 8; Exodus 29, etc.). Biblical references to the root occur in Lev 16:21, Deut 34:9, Ezekiel 24:2, and elsewhere. In ancient times, Samekh may have represented a shield. Today, the Jewish Rabbinical ordination ceremony is called a semikhah.

    Exodus 29:10 (BHS)

    Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting.  Aaron and his sons shall lay (samakh) their hands on the head of the bull. Exodus 29:10


  2. The Mystery of Samekh
    According to the Chaz’l (sages), Samekh is said to represent the endless and ever-ascending spiral of God’s glory in the universe. This cycle is hinted at in the divine (seder) of creation, and is revealed in both the seasons and in the rhythm of the Jewish mo’deim (festivals).

    Cycles

    Samekh is also the letter for Sukkah, indicating that God’s omnipresence is our support and shelter. God is active in His support for creation (Hebrews 1:3), and we are passive in relying our trusting in His provision and care for our lives.


  3. Samekh and the Priestly Blessing
    The letter Samekh represents the number 60, and some of the Jewish sages have noted that this is the same number of letters found in the Birkat Kohanim - the “Priestly Blessing” found in Numbers 6:23-27.

    Birkat Kohanim

    Also of note is the fact that the Priestly Blessing’s 60 letters are used to form 15 words - the same ordinal number that represents the letter Samekh. Notice that the Gematria for the word “Samekh” is 120 (Samekh+Mem+Kaf), which represents the double portion of blessing given in both the former covenant and the newer covenant of Yeshua.


  4. The Gematria of Samekh
    The letter Samekh is represented as Yod - Hey in the Hebrew numbering system, which is also one of the Sacred Names of God.

    Samekh and the Name


  5. The Miracle of Samekh
    The letter Nun, which immediately precedes the letter Samekh in the alphabet, suggests someone who is “bent,” or someone who humbles himself in brokenness and submission to the LORD God.  Putting these two letters together, we have the Hebrew word nes, miracle.

    Miracle of Faith


    A person of faith is a walking miracle! The LORD gives support to the fallen and broken ones who put their trust in Him. Indeed, this is directly illustrated in Psalm 145, an acrostic Psalm that begins it’s verse about Samekh as follows:
Psalm 145:14 (BHS)

The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

  1. Enlarged Samekh
    There is a textual oddity that STA”M soferim (scribes) preserve in Ecclesiastes 12:13, where the Samekh is enlarged:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (BHS)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

In light of the all-encompassing presence of God in the world (as represented by the letter Samekh), our primary response should be one of reverent awe and obedience.

 

Hebrew for Christians
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