Syriac Alphabet Tracing Sheet – West Syriac (Serto)

Classical Syriac Grammar

I have just added a tracing sheet for the Syriac alphabet in the West Syriac (Serto) script (see below). This script is an important script to learn since several important resources, most notably Payne Smith’s A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, are written in the West Syriac (Serto) script. My free online grammar of Classical Syriac, including resources similar to this, can be found at

Practice Sheet 1.8 – Alphabet Tracing Sheet – West Syriac (Serto)

The Classical Syriac Alphabet: The Names of the Letters and the Sounds They Make

This video gives the names of the letters of the Syriac alphabet in the Estrangela script and how they are pronounced. The pronunciation of the names of these letters and the sounds they make will vary depending on whether or not we’re using a West Syriac pronunciation or an East Syriac pronunciation. The pronunciation used in this video is close to the pronunciation used in East Syriac, though it reflects a pronunciation that would have been used at an earlier stage of the language. In other words, the pronunciation used here reflects the pronunciation that is generally given in fully vocalized East Syriac texts. For help learning how to write each letter, look for the tracing pages at Enjoy!

עֵ֫זֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (Ezer Kenegdo), Genesis 2:18, and R. David Freedman: “A Power Equal to Him”?

This is the second video in a series on the meaning of the term עֵ֫זֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ
(Ezer Kenegdo) in Genesis 2:18. This video deals with the suggestion made by R. David Freedman that the term עֵ֫זֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (Ezer Kenegdo) doesn’t mean “a helper that corresponds to him” but “a power equal to him”. While Freedman focuses on both parts of the term עֵ֫זֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, the focus here will be on the meaning of the term עֵ֫זֶר (ezer). Enjoy!

Mark Steven Francois (Ph.D.)

Eight Important Things to Know About the Syriac Alphabet

In this video we take a look at eight important things to know about the alphabet that is used in Classical Syriac:

1. It is descended from the alphabet used in Imperial Aramaic.

2. It is distantly related to the English alphabet.

3. It originally comes from in or around the city of Edessa.

4. It can be written in three different scripts.

5. It is written from right to left.

6. It is a semi-cursive script.

7. It was originally written without a full system of vowels.

8. It has twenty-two letters.

For my free online grammar of Classical Syriac, click here.

Mark Steven Francois (Ph.D.)

OT Textual Criticism: Changes Made to Protect Revered Figures (Judges 18:30)

This video is part of a series on Old Testament Textual Criticism. This video deals with one type of intentional change that was made by scribes as they were copying out the text of the Old Testament: changes that were made to protect the reputation of a revered figure. The example used in this video is the classical example found in Judges 18:30. Is the Levite in Judges 17-18 the grandson of Manasseh or the grandson of Moses? Enjoy!

OT Textual Criticism: Changes Due to Theological Reasons

This video is part of a series on Old Testament Textual Criticism.  This video deals with changes that were made in the text by scribes for theological reasons. The example used in this video is the textual change Deuteronomy 32:8. In the Masoretic Tradition it reads “sons of Israel,” in the vast majority of the manuscripts of the LXX it reads “the angels of God, and in 4QDeut J (a fragment of Deuteronomy discovered at Qumran) it reads “the sons of God”.  Enjoy!