that the sound value of the letter is represented by the initial letter of the following word, not that the letter’s form resembles in any sense the shape or characteristics of the object identified by that word.
There is no sound basis for the theory that the alphabet is the result of a gradual evolution through pictographic, ideographic, or syllabic writings. Although the ancient Egyptians eventually used a number of their phonetic signs to stand for specific consonants, they never did isolate them as a distinct alphabet, and they continued to use their ideograms and syllabic phonograms until the time of the Common Era. Thereafter they adopted the Greek alphabet. There is no history of a pictographic writing independently developing into an alphabet. In addition to the case of the Egyptian writing, other peoples, such as the Mayas, evidently employed pictographic writing for millenniums, with no evolution into an alphabet. Till this day the Chinese have not developed an alphabet from their originally pictographic writing.
Referring to the one original alphabet, Dr. Diringer shows that other peoples or civilizations later developed their own variations of that basic alphabetic script which variations, with the passing of time, eventually came to be almost unrecognizable in their relation to other members of the same family (as well as to the original script). He adds: “Thus, the Brahmi script, the great mother-script of India, the Korean alphabet, the Mongolian scripts are derived from the same source as the Greek, the Latin, the Runic, the Hebrew, the Arabic, and the Russian alphabets, although it is practically impossible for a layman to see a real resemblance between them.”—The Story of the Aleph Beth, p. 39.
Following the captivity in Babylon the Aramaic style of letters was adopted by the Jews and from this developed the square style of letters characteristic of the modern Hebrew alphabet. Nevertheless, there is evidence indicating that the early Hebrew script continued to be used in postexilic times.
The Greek alphabet is derived from the Semitic alphabet. The Greeks made a valuable addition to it in that they took the surplus letters for which they had no corresponding consonants (ʼaʹleph, heʼ, hheth, ʽaʹyin, waw, and yohdh) and employed these to represent the vowel sounds a, e (short), e (long), o, y, i. Of the two styles of Greek writing the Eastern and the Western, the latter became the source of the Latin alphabet and, in turn, of our English alphabet.—See the individual letters by name; also WRITING.
(Al·phaeʹus) [perhaps, leader or chief]
2. The father of James the Less, the ninth listed of the twelve apostles. (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) Many authorities are supported by tradition in the general belief that Alphaeus was the same person as Clopas (John 19:25), which would also make him the husband of “the other Mary.” (Matt. 27:56; 28:1; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 24:10) Either a variation in pronunciation of the root word, or the individual’s having had two names, a common thing in those days, would explain this difference.
[Heb. and Gr., “place of sacrifice”].
Basically, a raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship of the true God or of another deity. The first mention of an altar occurs after the flood when “Noah began to build an altar to Jehovah” and offered burnt offerings thereon. (Gen. 8:20) The only offerings mentioned prior to the Flood were those of Cain and Abel and, though it is likely that they did so, it is not stated whether they used altars or not.—Gen. 4:3, 4.
Abraham built an altar at Shechem (Gen. 12:7) at a point between Bethel and Ai (12:8; 13:3), at Hebron (13:18), and also at Mount Moriah, where he sacrificed a ram given him by God in substitution for Isaac. (22:9-13) Only in this last case is a sacrifice specifically mentioned as being offered on these altars by Abraham. However, the basic meaning of the Hebrew word indicates that offerings were likely made in each case. Isaac later built an altar at Beer-sheba (26:23, 25) and Jacob built altars at Shechem and at Bethel. (33:18, 20; 35:1, 3, 7) These altars made by the patriarchs were doubtless of the type later mentioned by God in the Law covenant, either mounds of earth or platforms made up of natural (unhewn) stones.—Ex. 20:24, 25.
Following the exodus from Egypt, Moses first constructed an altar following the victory over Amalek, naming it Jehovah-nissi (Jehovah is my signal, or, perhaps, Jehovah is my refuge). (Ex. 17:15, 16) At the making of the Law covenant with Israel an altar was built by Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai and sacrifices were offered up on it. Blood from the sacrifices was sprinkled on the altar, on the book and on the people, thereby validating and putting in force the covenant.—Ex. 24:4-8; Heb. 9:17-20.
With the setting up of the tabernacle, two altars were constructed according to divine pattern. The altar of burnt offering (also called the “altar of copper” [Ex. 39:39]) was made of acacia wood in the form of a hollow chest, apparently without top or bottom. It was about seven and a quarter feet (2.2 meters) square and about four and a third feet (1.3 meters) high with “horns” projecting from the upper four corners. All its surfaces were overlaid with copper. A grating or network of copper was placed below the altar’s rim “down within,” “toward the center.” Four rings were placed at the four extremities near the grating, and these appear to be the same rings through which the two copper-sheathed acacia-wood poles were passed for carrying the altar. This might mean that a slot was cut through two sides of the altar allowing for a flat grating to be inserted, with the rings extending out on both sides. There is considerable difference of opinion among scholars on the subject, and many consider it likely that two sets of rings were involved, the second set, for insertion of the carrying poles, being attached directly to the outside of the altar. Copper equipment was made in the form of cans and shovels for the ashes, bowls for catching the blood of the animals forks for handling the flesh, and fire holders. All of this was made by Bezalel and Oholiab.—Ex. 27:1–8; 31:2, 6, 8, 9; 38:1-7, 30; Num. 4:14.
This copper altar for burnt offerings was placed before the entrance of the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:6, 29) While it was of relatively low height, thus not necessarily requiring a means of approach, for ease of handling the sacrifices placed within it, the earth may have been raised around it, or there may have been a ramp leading up to it. (Compare Leviticus 9:22, which states that Aaron “came down” from making offerings.) Since the animal was sacrificed “at the side of the altar to the north” (Lev. 1:11), the “place for the fatty ashes” removed from the altar was to the E (Lev. 1:16), and the basin of copper for washing was located to the W (Ex. 30:18), this would logically leave the S as the open side on which such a means of approach might be placed.
Altar of incense
The altar of incense (also called the “altar of gold” [Ex. 39:38]) was likewise made of acacia wood, the top and sides being overlaid with gold. A border of gold ran around the top. The altar measured about 17.5 inches (44.5 centimeters) square and about 2 feet 11 inches (89 centimeters) high, and also had “horns” extending out from the four top corners. Two gold rings were made for the insertion of the acacia carrying poles overlaid with gold, and these rings were placed underneath the gold border on opposite sides of the altar. (Ex. 30:1-5; 37:25-28) A