This Aish article about the meaning of the word "Adam" states the following:

The letter aleph is also a word which means to teach or inculcate. It similarly indicates leadership, as implied by the related word aluf which means a general or tribal head.

A quick search of translate.google.com did not verify this statement. Neither does the Collins English Dictionary, though it did (suprisingly, as it's an English dictionary) verified that the word origin suggests leadership based on the word aluf.

Is the source correct? Is the letter Aleph (א) also a word that means "to teach, inculcate"?


1 Answer 1


Indeed it does!

One source in Tanach that illustrates this is Iyov 33:33:

אִם־אַ֭יִן אַתָּ֥ה שְֽׁמַֽע־לִ֑י הַ֝חֲרֵ֗שׁ וַאֲאַלֶּפְךָ֥ חׇכְמָֽה׃

If not, hearken thou unto me; Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. (JPS translation)

Metzudos and Ralbag translate it this way here, and and I see no dissenters. Metzudos references Iyov 15:5 and Mishlei 22:25 (where Rashi also translates this way).

(BTW, I don't know Iyov/Mishlei well, I just remembered it from here, second to last line.)

H/t to Loewian, who noted that Aleph also means "to teach" in Aramaic, as noted by Jastrow and others, from Targum Kesuvim to Mishlei 11:25, as well as various other sources:

נֶֽפֶשׁ־בְּרָכָ֥ה תְדֻשָּׁ֑ן וּ֝מַרְוֶ֗ה גַּם־ה֥וּא יוֹרֶֽא

נַפְשָׁא דְבִרְכְּתָא תִדְהַן וּמַן דִמְאַלֵף אַף הוּא יֵלִיף

  • 2
    So too in Aramaic
    – Loewian
    Apr 17, 2018 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Loewian I had assumed that it was somehow related to "learning out" words, like "יליף"/"למילף". Apr 17, 2018 at 2:45
  • 1
    I thought Yalif was "go" as in "in a certain direction. A person can physically go, or be taught in a certain path (or be led down that path by a leader) I guess.
    – rosends
    Apr 17, 2018 at 10:16

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