א The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The name of the letter is ‘Aleph’, and so called in allusion to its ancient Heb. form, representing the head of an ox (see אֶלֶף ᴵᴵ, אַלּוּף ⱽᴵ, and cp. Akka. alpu, Arab. alif, Phoen. אלף, whence Gk. Alpha). In PBH it has the numerical value of one. א alternates with other gutterals, as with ה (see e.g. אָמוֹן, Jer. 52:15, instead of הָמוֹן), and with ע (see e.g. מְתָאֵב, Amos 6:5, instead of מֽתָעֵב). It also alternates with י (see e.g. צְבָאִים and צֽבָיִים, pl. of צְבִי). For the interchangeability of א and ה see also in the conjugational system Heb. הִפֽעִיל and Aram. אַפְעֵל, Heb. הִתֽפַּעֵל and Aram. אִתְפַּעֵל. א is used to form secondary verbs and nouns (see e.g. אבטח, אבחן, אַבְטָחָה, אַבֽחָנָה). In Aram. it also serves as the definite article (see ◌ָא ᴵ) and as the most common subst. and adj. suff. (see ◌ָא ᴵᴵ).