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Title: Gimel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Phoenician alphabet, C., C++, Geresh, Dalet
Collection: Hebrew Alphabet, Phoenician Alphabet
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ɡ, ɣ, d͡ʒ, ʒ, ɟ
Position in alphabet 3
Numerical value 3
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Gimel is the third letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Gīml , Hebrew ˈGimel ג, Aramaic Gāmal , Syriac Gāmal ܓ, and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; fifth in spelling order). Its sound value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, save Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive [ɡ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents has many standards including [ɡ], see below.

In its unattested Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick, ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek gamma (Γ), the Latin C and G, and the Cyrillic Г.


  • Hebrew gimel 1
    • Variations 1.1
    • Significance 1.2
  • Syriac Gamal/Gomal 2
  • Arabic ǧīm 3
  • Ethiopian/Sudanese Gimel 4
  • Character encodings 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Hebrew gimel


Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ג ג ג

Hebrew spelling: גִּימֵל

Bertrand Russell posits that the letter's form is a conventionalized image of a camel.[1][2] The letter may be the shape of the walking animal's head, neck, and forelegs. Barry B. Powell, a specialist in the history of writing, states "It is hard to imagine how gimel = "camel" can be derived from the picture of a camel (it may show his hump, or his head and neck!)".[3]

Gimel is one of the six letters which can receive a dagesh. The two functions of dagesh are distinguished as either kal (light) or hazak (strong). The six letters are bet, gimel, daled, kaph, pe, and taf. Three of them (bet, kaph, and pe) have their sound value changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three represent the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. In the Temani pronunciation, gimel represents /ɡ/, /ʒ/, or /d͡ʒ/ when with a dagesh, and /ɣ/ without a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the combination ג׳ (gimel followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote [d͡ʒ].


In gematria, gimel represents the number three.

It is written like a vav with a yud as a "foot", and it resembles a person in motion; symbolically, a rich man running after a poor man to give him charity, as in the Hebrew alphabet gimel directly precedes dalet, which signifies a poor or lowly man, from the Hebrew word dal.

The word gimel is related to gemul, which means 'justified repayment', or the giving of reward and punishment.

Gimmel is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See shin, ayin, teth, nun, zayin, and tsadi.

In Modern Hebrew, the frequency of usage of gimel, out of all the letters, is 1.26%.

Syriac Gamal/Gomal

Madnḫaya Gamal
Serṭo Gomal
Esṭrangela Gamal

In the Syriac alphabet, the third letter is ܓ — Gamal in eastern pronunciation, Gomal in western pronunciation (ܓܵܡܵܠ). It is one of six letters that represent two associated sounds (the others are Bet, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Gamal/Gomal has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ ) it represents [ɡ], like "goat". When Gamal/Gomal has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ ) it traditionally represents [ɣ] (ܓ݂ܵܡܵܠ), or Ghamal/Ghomal. The letter, renamed Jamal/Jomal, is written with a tilde/tie either below or within it to represent the borrowed phoneme [d͡ʒ] (ܓ̰ܡܵܠ), which is used in Garshuni and some Neo-Aramaic languages to write loan and foreign words from Arabic or Persian.

Arabic ǧīm

The associated Arabic letter ج is named جيم ǧīm. It is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ج ـج ـجـ جـ

Modern Standard Arabic (Literary Arabic) has many standard pronunciations, although in the western countries, the affricate [d͡ʒ] is mostly taught as the standard. Differences in pronunciation occur, because speakers of Modern Standard Arabic pronounce words in accordance to their spoken variety of Arabic. In such varieties, cognate words will have consistent differences in pronunciation of this sound:

  • In most of Algeria, Iraq, limited parts of the Levant and most of the Arabian Peninsula, it is [d͡ʒ], yet in Algeria and the Arabian Peninsula it may be softened to [ʒ] in some situations.
  • In Egypt and Yemen (mostly Tihama), it is normally pronounced [ɡ] (as in Hebrew and the other Semitic languages). This pronunciation also exist in north west Africa in words that contain grooved alveolar sounds (/s/, /z/), but not when pronouncing Literary Arabic.
  • In most of the Levant and north west Africa, it is [ʒ].
  • In Gulf Arabic, it is pronounced [j] in the most colloquial speech, while [d͡ʒ] and sometimes softened to [ʒ] in Literary Arabic pronunciation.
  • In some regions of Sudan and Yemen, it is pronounced [ɟ], another common reconstruction of the Classical Arabic pronunciation.
  • Other pronunciations (particularly among Bedouins) it is a palatalized [ɡʲ], which is a common reconstruction of the pronunciation in the Classical Arabic of early Islamic times.

Egyptians always use the letter to represent [ɡ], as well as in names and loanwords, such as جولف "golf". However, it isn't incorrect to use it in Egypt for transcribing /ʒ/~/d͡ʒ/ (normally pronounced [ʒ]). The opposite isn't incorrect among other Arabic language speakers.

In Perso-Arabic script, it is called jīm.

In Egypt, when there is a need to transcribe /ʒ/ or /d͡ʒ/, both are approximated into [ʒ] using چ. In Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Ottoman Turkish and other languages using Perso-Arabic script, چ represents the affricate /t͡ʃ/.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: چ ـچ ـچـ چـ

Ethiopian/Sudanese Gimel

The dialect of Eastern Africa often utilizes the gimel sofit when the gimel ends a word. The letter is a traditional gimel with an add-on curve on the bottom.

Character encodings

Character ג ج ܓ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1490 U+05D2 1580 U+062C 1811 U+0713 2050 U+0802 8503 U+2137
UTF-8 215 146 D7 92 216 172 D8 AC 220 147 DC 93 224 160 130 E0 A0 82 226 132 183 E2 84 B7
Numeric character reference ג ג ج ج ܓ ܓ
Character ΂
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66434 U+10382 67650 U+10842 67842 U+10902
UTF-8 240 144 142 130 F0 90 8E 82 240 144 161 130 F0 90 A1 82 240 144 164 130 F0 90 A4 82
UTF-16 55296 57218 D800 DF82 55298 56386 D802 DC42 55298 56578 D802 DD02
Numeric character reference 𐎂 𐎂 𐡂 𐡂 𐤂 𐤂

See also

The serif form \gimel of the Hebrew letter gimel is occasionally used for the gimel function in mathematics.


  1. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1972). A history of western philosophy (60th print. ed.). New York: Touchstone book.  
  2. ^ Stan Tenen - Meru Foundation. "Meru Foundation Research: Letter Portrait: Gimel". 
  3. ^ Powell, Barry B. (27 March 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley Blackwell. p. 182.  

External links

  • The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters: Gimel
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