RESH (Heb. רֵשׁ ;ר), the twentieth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; its numerical value is 200. The initial form of this letter–in the early Proto-Canaanite and Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions–is a pictograph of a human head. \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1969 The Greek rho seems to indicate that the Canaanite name of the letter was rosh, while resh = "head" in Aramaic. In the late Proto-Canaanite script the pictograph developed into a linear form, \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1970 which was preserved in the Greek P. Another Archaic Greek variant \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1971 was the ancestor of the Latin R. While the ancient Hebrew script preserved the closed top of the resh \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1972 (hence Samaritan), \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1973 the Phoenician cursive opened the circular head at its lower part \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1974 and the Aramaic script opened the top of the letter \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1975 (compare with Aramaic bet, dalet, and 'ayin) already in the late eighth century B.C.E. Later there was a tendency to curve the shoulder \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1976 and thus the Jewish resh \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1977 was developed. As resh and dalet resemble each other, in some scripts both were often written in the same way. In Syriac only diaritic marks distinguish between them: \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1978 = dalet; \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1979 = resh. In the Nabatean cursive and, hence, in the Arabic script, the resh has been assimilated with the zayin. Therefore a diacritic point above the za ( \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1980 ) distinguishes it from the ra ( \!ejud\_0002\_0017\_0\_img1981 ). See alphabet , Hebrew. (Joseph Naveh)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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