Genetic Correspondences Between Hebrew, Greek and Roman Alphabets

by John Opsopaus
(c) 1997

  1. Introduction
  2. Table
  3. Notes
  4. References


In an effort to translate into the Graeco-Roman Tradition some ideas from the Western Magical and Hermetic Tradition, including Qabala and Tarot, I've developed the following
table of correspondence between the Hebrew alphabet and Greek and Roman alphabets. There are no deep secrets here; this information can be found in any history of the alphabet. Indeed, the correspondences are the same as those given by Regardie (Compl. Golden Dawn Sys. of Magick), with the single exception of X; this correction of the Golden Dawn assignement is explained in note 5 below.

What follows is a table of genetic correspondences rather than phonetic correspondences, the latter being much less exact and more changeable. Systematic genetic correspondences are possible because the Hebrew, Greek and Roman alphabets derive from a common source, the North Semitic alphabet of c.1700 BCE. The Roman comes to us via Etruscan and Greek c.800 BCE, and the Greek comes via Phoenician, c.1000 BCE. In this sense Aleph, Alpha and A are in essence the same letter.

It's worth noting that the Modern Hebrew alphabet, which is commonly used in esoteric work, is no closer in form to the original alphabet than are the Greek or Roman alphabets. Indeed, the Old Hebrew alphabet (c. 900 BCE) looks much more like the Early Greek alphabet than it looks like Modern Hebrew. Therefore I see no reason to believe that the Modern Hebrew alphabet has more "magical potency" than the Greek or Roman alphabets. (See also "Some Notes on the History of Isopsephia (Gematria)".)


Table of Genetic Correspondences

No Hebrew Greek Greek Roman Letter Letter Number Letter ------------------------------- 1 aleph alpha 1 A 2 beth beta 2 B 3 gimel gamma 3 CG 4 daleth delta 4 D 5 he e-psilon 5 E 6 wau wau *1 6 F 7 zayin zeta 7 Z 8 heth eta 8 H 9 teth theta 9 *3 10 yod iota 10 IJ 11 koph kappa 20 K 12 lamedh lambda 30 L 13 men mu 40 M 14 nun nu 50 N 15 samekh xi 60 *5 16 ayin o-micron 70 O 17 pe pi 80 P 18 sade san *2 -- *4 19 qoph qoppa *1 90 Q 20 resh rho 100 R 21 sin sigma 200 S 22 tau tau 300 T ------------------------------- u-psilon 400 UVWY phi 500 chi 600 X *5 psi 700 o-mega 800 sampi *1 900


General Notes:

This is the numerical position of the letter in the Hebrew alphabet as used in various magical systems. It also essentially the order in the Phoenician and the earliest Greek alphabets.
Hebrew Letter:
The name of the Hebrew letter.
Greek Letter:
The name of the Greek letter; letters after the horizontal line below the 22nd letter are later additions that do not correspond to Phoenician or Hebrew letters. Nevertheless the numerical assignments to the Greek letters predate the assignments to the Hebrew. (See also "Some Notes on the History of Isopsephia (Gematria)".)
Greek Number:
This is the numerical value of the Greek letter in the usual Greek number notation. With the possible exception of San, it corresponds to the Hebrew/Phoenician order (see note *2 below).
Roman Letter:
This is the Roman letter genetically related to the Greek. No Roman letters are derived from Xi.

Notes to Individual Letters:

*1 Wau, Qoppa and Sampi are obsolete Greek letters, which in the classical period were only used for writing numerals. Wau looks like an F, Qoppa looks like a Q with a vertical tail.

*2 San, corresponding to Sade, was used in some early Greek alphabets for an S sound. It is often taken to be equivalent to Sampi (also an obsolete S sound), and so it's reasonable to assign it the numerical value 900.

*3 There is no Roman letter genetically related to Teth/Theta.

*4 There is no Roman letter genetically related to Sade/San.

*5 The Roman letter X derives from the Greek letter now called Chi, which is identical in shape. This is because the Roman alphabet developed from an early Greek alphabet in which the letter shaped X (with numerical value 600) had the sound /ks/. In the classical Greek alphabet this letter had the sound /kh/, whence its name Chi. The Greek letter Xi, which had the sound /ks/ in the classical alphabet (but not in the alphabet from which the Roman alphabet derives), is unrelated to Roman X, and in fact looks nothing like it.


  1. Oxford Classical Dictionary, s.v. alphabet.
  2. Crystal, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, pp. 176-7, 202.
  3. Sampson, Writing Systems, chh. 5, 6.
  4. Gelb, A Study of Writing, ch. 5.

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Last updated: Tue Jun 17 09:22:43 EDT 1997