Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet is the second letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Bēt , Hebrew Bēt ב, Aramaic Bēth , Syriac Bēṯ ܒ, and Arabic Bāʾ ب. Its sound value is the voiced bilabial stop ⟨b⟩ or the voiced labiodental fricative ⟨v⟩.
|Phonemic representation||b, v|
|Position in alphabet||2|
|Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician|
The letter's name means "house" in various Semitic languages (Arabic bayt, Akkadian bītu, bētu, Hebrew: bayiṯ, Phoenician bt etc.; ultimately all from Proto-Semitic *bayt-), and appears to derive from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a house by acrophony.
The name bet is derived from the West Semitic word for "house" (as in Hebrew bayt בַּיִת), and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on the Egyptian hieroglyph Pr
which depicts a house.
The Arabic letter ب is named بَاءْ bāʾ (bāʔ). It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:
|Position in word||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
The letter normally renders /b/ sound, except in some names and loanwords where it can also render /p/, often Arabized as /b/, as in بَرْسِيلْ (Persil). For /p/, it may be used interchangeably with the Persian letter پ - pe (with 3 dots) in this case.
|Various print fonts||Cursive
Hebrew spelling: בֵּית
The Hebrew letter represents two different phonemes: a "b" sound (/b/) (bet) and a "v" sound (/v/) (vet). When Hebrew is written Ktiv menuqad (with niqqud diacritics) the two are distinguished by a dot (called a dagesh) in the centre of the letter for /b/ and no dot for /v/. In modern Hebrew, the more commonly used Ktiv hasar niqqud spelling, which does not use diacritics, does not visually distinguish between the two phonemes.
This letter is named bet and vet, following the modern Israeli Hebrew pronunciation, bet and vet (/bet/), in Israel and by most Jews familiar with Hebrew, although some non-Israeli Ashkenazi speakers pronounce it beis (or bais) and veis (/bejs/) (or vais or vaiz). It is also named beth, following the Tiberian Hebrew pronunciation, in academic circles.
In modern Hebrew the frequency of the usage of bet, out of all the letters, is 4.98%.
In Ktiv menuqad spelling, which uses diacritics, when the letter appears as ב without the dagesh ("dot") in its center it represents a voiced labiodental fricative: /v/. In Ktiv hasar niqqud spelling, without diacritics, the letter without the dot may represent either phoneme.
Bet in gematria represents the number 2.
Bet is the first letter of the Torah. As Bet is the number 2 in gematria, this is said to symbolize that there are two parts to Torah: the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. According to Jewish legend, the letter Bet was specially chosen among the 22 letters in Hebrew by God as the first letter of Torah as it begins with "Bereshit (In the beginning) God created heaven and earth."
Genesis Rabbah points out that the letter is closed on three sides and open on one; this is indicate that one can investigate what happened after creation, but not what happened before it, or what is above the heavens or below the earth.
In the Syriac alphabet, the second letter is ܒ — Beth (ܒܹܝܬ). It is one of six letters that represents two associated sounds (the others are Gimel, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Beth has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ) it is a [b]. When Beth has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ) it is traditionally pronounced as a [v], similar to its Hebrew form. However, in eastern dialects, the soft Beth is more often pronounced as a [w], and can form diphthongs with its preceding vowel. Whether Beth should be pronounced as a hard or soft sound is generally determined by its context within a word. However, wherever it is traditionally geminate within a word, even in dialects that no longer distinguish double consonants, it is hard. In the West Syriac dialect, some speakers always pronounce Beth with its hard sound.
Beth, when attached to the beginning of a word, represents the preposition 'in, with, at'. As a numeral, the letter represents the number 2, and, using various systems of dashes above or below, can stand for 2,000 and 20,000.
|Unicode name||HEBREW LETTER BET||ARABIC LETTER BEH||SYRIAC LETTER BETH||SAMARITAN LETTER BIT||BET SYMBOL|
|UTF-8||215 145||D7 91||216 168||D8 A8||220 146||DC 92||224 160 129||E0 A0 81||226 132 182||E2 84 B6|
|Numeric character reference||ב
|Named character reference||ℶ|
|Unicode name||UGARITIC LETTER BETA||IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER BETH||PHOENICIAN LETTER BET|
|UTF-8||240 144 142 129||F0 90 8E 81||240 144 161 129||F0 90 A1 81||240 144 164 129||F0 90 A4 81|
|UTF-16||55296 57217||D800 DF81||55298 56385||D802 DC41||55298 56577||D802 DD01|
|Numeric character reference||𐎁
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