Learning Hebrew Vowels


Lets stop and take a breather, while we take a moment to evaluate where we have finally arrived.

By now (as long as you have been taking this all seriously) you can: (1) Recite your Aleph-Bet as good as you can recite your ABC's; (2) Correctly identify the basic Hebrew letters (including 4 dagesh); (3) Know at least one ancient picture meaning for each letter; (4) Correctly identify 5 Sofit letters; (5) You know and understand at least three different methods of Hebrew Gematria; (6) And you can write your Aleph-Bet in Hebrew and ancient hieroglyphic characters.

If you need to brush up on some of these, please do so as you will only cheat yourself out of future blessings.

This must be learned one step at a time with nothing lacking, to meet your ultimate goal of understanding and comprehension. Think of sowing, watering and increase.

I can sow some knowledge and encourage you, but wisdom is acted out by you completing these steps. The increase is God alone giving you understanding.

You are making good progress and will soon be sailing in open waters :-)


In learning about vowels, I will teach you what they are today and what they were in ancient times. Later we will learn the meanings of the vowels, which will help bring more spiritual understanding and comprehension. Paul taught this concept in the teaching of the resurrection: “Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual”(1). It would be hard to learn spiritual principles from knowledge that you have not yet learned. You must first learn the natural to be able to see the spiritual.

Vowels in ancient times were three consonants that doubled as vowels. These vowels would correspond to the same English vowel sounds that we have today (a, e, i, o, u) by only using three consonants Yod, Hey and Vav ()

Now hold on to this info for later, as it might help bring revelation in the future. One point to consider is when you hear people make comments about God's name. They might say that we can't know the correct pronunciation of God's name, because vowels were never added to it when the Masoretic vowels were invented.

While this may be true as stated, many of these people do not stop to think that God's name () is not only made up of ALL historic vowels, but every vowel that existed at the time His name was first written. When we seek for more understanding we might see Moses at the bush, asking for his name and he says I AM “aeiou” (and sometimes y). It is easy to see that God is EVERY vowel that connects and holds EVERY word together. He is all and in all!(2) You can study this topic here (also notice that aleph was silent in Hebrew and was only used as a vowel in aramaic and arabic).


The names of the vowels will be important later, so we will not only learn the nikkudot(3) and their sounds, but also the meaning of the Hebrew names of the vowels and letters as well.

I have already warned about many having their own views and rules for pronunciation.
My advice is to learn at least one teaching for now, but have an open mind to learn more (or all of them) later. For now if you learn what the vowels are, their names and one dialect you can consider yourself ready to go on to the next step.
The different known dialects and reconstructions presently are:

1. Modern
Israeli Hebrew

2. Ashkenazi
Pronunciation system within the Haredi Jewish community

3. Sephardi
Pronunciation system within the Sephardic community. This dialect was influenced by languages after dispersion such as Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Arabic (and others)

4. Yemenite
Pronunciation system for Yemenite Jews also called Temani Hebrew (closest to Tiberian and Mishnaic Hebrew)

Reconstructed, Revived or Limited Restoration:

5. Tiberian
Tiberian vocalization Masoretic scholars that lived in ancient Tiberias and the inventors of nikkudot 750 C.E. The nikkudot taught today is not the same as the original Tiberian Hebrew as we can see and now glean from different credible sources. First in this list would be the Aleppo Codex. Closest Pronunciation system however would be the Yemenite system

6. Mishnaic / Tannaitic
Mishnaic Hebrew is only one of the Hebrew dialects found in the Talmud. Mishnaic Hebrew is Classical Biblical Hebrew found in early rabbinic sources such as (but not limited to) the Talmud, Midrash and Mishna. The names and markings are not in dispute, it is only the exact sounds that the vowels make that differ. Some of these differing traditions only differ on some vowels whether they are long or short sounds, while others have the exact same sounds for two or even more written vowels (which would seem to make the existence of some useless). Some say that these are just not needed any more. I will let you work this all out later and wait on the Lord as you either figure it all out, or just come to learn them all and find your peace.

No mater which you decide, for you to be able to learn the meanings later: you will need to learn what they are called, what they look like and the most common sound rules in this step.

As you already know, nikkudot means “dots” or “marks”. The Masoretic tradition that I am teaching here does not include dagesh (dots). Dagesh are dots inside of the Hebrew letters and are different from nikkudot. Nikkudot was invented when the Jews were being scattered and oral traditions were in danger of being lost. These scholars at this time did not wish to disturb the written text, so purposely designed the nikkudot (and other marks) to be written under and above the letters. They also kept other biblical gloss traditions of using the margins for notes in the original manuscripts.

So the first thing to know is that EVERY LETTER can be seen with a dot INSIDE OF IT, this is called dagesh which we will learn more about in the next step. In this step we learn about nikkudot, which in this tradition only has dots UNDER and a couple cases OVER the letters.

Notice here two letters:
As you can see one has a dot in the letter (a dagesh type called mappiq), and the other nikkudot below the letter (in this case a vowel called a Hiriq).


We will learn simple things now one step at a time.
I will use an Aleph for vowel placement, because an Aleph without a vowel under it is completely silent.

Hebrew letters sound exactly like the letter name and is always pronounced first.
The vowel under the letter is pronounced next, and then the next letter sound, and if it also has a vowel under it that vowel and on to the next letter again.

For example, in ancient Hebrew the name Bob without nikkudot added is written as
That can look like b-b said quickly, but if we put a patach _ (ah sound) under the first bet (right to left) we sound out something like bahb and pronounce the English name Bob.

For now just learn the name and sound of each vowel.

You must be able to see the vowel and then know it's name and sound to be able to move on to the next step.

I have added Vowel Flashcards in the Flash Card Kit for you to practice with.

Notice that the Segol, Tzere and Hiriq get different sounds if they are followed by a Yod. These are sometimes called Yod Segol, Yod Tzere and Yod Hiriq.

Since the letter Aleph is silent, only the vowel sound is pronounced:


Example when one of the vowels below is paired with a sheva. It's sound time or length is cut in half. Since you have for example two ah sounds and two eh sounds you now end up with vowel sounds long, short and very short when the sheva is used. If it is used without a vowel it indicates a break or stop.

Note that in ancient times there was also a Hatef Hiriq which is only rarely seen in the Aleppo Codex.


The Shuruk and the Cholam are only found in use with the letter Vav. The Cholam however can sometimes be found floating all alone by itself between letters.

I would suggest learning all of the standard nikkudot first and then in another step the Hatef vowels and then finish up with the Cholam and Shuruk.

After you have learned all of these hurry back to start learning your Dagesh.


Gematria with vowels is simple to count seeing that it is only counting dots and lines.

A dot is worth (1) and a line is worth (6)

You can remember God is the dot, and is always one.

You can remember six easily since it is a “line” (Vav).

The number for Vav is (6) and also you know a Vav is a man and the number of man is six, created on the sixth day.

OK, so how can you remember this easily?

() a Vav is a natural man (6), because Vav is simply a man who's number is six.

() is an anointed man who now gets the number 7. The Vav is six, and we add 1 for the dot. John said he who I see the Spirit of God descending on like a dove and remaining will be the Son.

() is a man filled with the spirit (like John the baptist was from the womb). This man also gets a 7.

For the other vowels, just count.

I think you can see how easy this is. You simply sum the lines and dots. Depending on how you are applying this you can then also add the number for the letter like I showed with the Vav's above.


References (click the back arrow on your browser to go back to your reading)

1. 1 Corinthians 15:46
2. For more about this topic study 1. Historic vowels 2. Matres lectionis 3. Hebrew mother of learning.
Also take note that Hebrew only used the yod, hey and vav, while arabic also used the aleph and remained silent in Hebrew
You can study this topic here.
3. Nikkud (singular) nikkudot (plural). Nikkudot simply means dots or marks. Nikkud is a dot or mark that was placed under a Hebrew letter on copies of ancient manuscripts that represents a vowel sound that was not otherwise represented in the original text. These marks were placed above or below the letters so as not to disturb the original text or flow in any way.


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