Always befriend a librarian. In the first place, they tend to be really fun, smart people worth hanging around with. But in the second place, sometimes they make you aware of what they find tucked away in closets and storage spaces. Sometimes, they find things like this:


An Olympia Deluxe International Hebrew typewriter. It will want a new ribbon, and it’s possible that the margin-setting-thingies aren’t working properly, but it’s clean and seems to work very well.


You can see that the arrangement is according to the standard Hebrew keyboard. I’m used to the Hebrew-Qwerty keyboard myself (bet goes where our B is, and so on), which means I have to hunt & peck.

Since Hebrew does not have upper-case letters, I was surprised to see a shift/tab key assembley (lower left, as you expect). It turns out that “upper case” produces standard-sized characters, and “lower case” produces little wee characters. In this sample, you can see my botched first line, then an error-free line of standard size, and finally a line in little wee size:


Typographically, I can’t say that the font face looks exactly like any of the Hebrew font that I have on my computer (I have SBL Hebrew and whatever comes with the Mac OS). Pretty close in spirit is New Peninim MT. The following will appear in New Peninim MT, but only if you’ve got it installed. Otherwise, it will probably be in some version of Lucida.

מי יתן אפו ויכתבון

Good times! And yes, I feel like Arthur Weasley gushing over a collection of “plugs.”

Like (a Grain of) the Sand of the Sea

Researchers at Haifa Institute of Technology have printed the entire Hebrew Bible—with vowel points, I’ve read elsewhere—on a chip that is the size of a single grain of sugar: 0.5 mm sqare. When displayed at 7 meters square, the text’s line-height is a legible 3 mm high.

“[T]he aim of the project is to increase young people’s interest in nanoscience and nanotechnology.” This seems to me a creative approach to that goal, a sensitive mix of the sensational and the reverent.

The words are etched onto the gold face of a silicon grain using a focussed ion beam, but I see no word on what sorts of type-face decisions were made. I expect that a printed text was photographed and fed to the machine’s computer, but I wonder: is it a serif font like “SBL Hebrew” and therefore similar to the BHS? Sans serif like JPS Tanak and so more like “Lucida Grande”?

Where would you like to see the Hebrew Bible inscribed or painted? I’ll start with my vote: a nice, accessible bit of rock face on the moon, ideally not far from Neil and Buzz’s haunts.

Font Sandbox

Don’t mind this post: here, I am writing out some Hebrew characters, some transliteration of Hebrew, and some Greek characters, just so I can look at them while I mess around with font stacks and browsers.

‏בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם

bĕrēʾšît bārāʾ ʾĕlōhîm ʾēt-haššāmayim wĕʾēt hāʾāreṣ wĕhāreṣ hāytâ tōhû wābōhû wĕḥōšek ʿal-pĕnê tĕhôm

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου

(Hm, I wonder why I cannot input an upsilon with a circumflex?)[edit: Turns out to be a Camino thing]

Okay, move on, nothing to see. That said, if you have interesting observations about what you see, by all means comment with a description, as well as your OS and browser information. At this point, I’ve added no font information to the HTML of this post, so these Unicode samples of text are defaulting to the template defaults. Thank you!