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Bet (letter)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phonemic representationb, v
Position in alphabet2
Numerical value2
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician
CyrillicВ, Б

Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet is the second letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician bēt 𐤁 , Hebrew bēt ב, Aramaic bēṯ 𐡁, Syriac bēṯ ܒ, and Arabic bāʾ ب. Its sound value is the voiced bilabial stop ⟨b⟩ or the voiced labiodental fricative ⟨v⟩.

The letter's name means "house" in various Semitic languages (Arabic bayt, Akkadian bītu, bētu, Hebrew: bayīṯ, Phoenician bēt etc.; ultimately all from Proto-Semitic *bayt-), and appears to derive from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a house by acrophony.


The Phoenician letter gave rise to, among others, the Greek beta (Β, β), Latin B (B, b) and Cyrillic Be (Б, б) and Ve (В, в).


The name bet is derived from the West Semitic word for "house" (as in Hebrew: בַּיִת, romanizedbayt), 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.

Hieroglyph Proto-Sinaitic Phoenician Paleo-Hebrew

Arabic bāʾ[edit]

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
Glyph form:
ب ـب ـبـ بـ

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.

Interpretation of ب[edit]

Bāʾ is the first letter of the Quran [ 1:1], the first letter of Basmala.[1] The letter bāʾ as a prefix may function as a preposition meaning "by" or "with". Some tafsirs interpreted the positioning of bāʾ as the opener of the Qur'an with "by My (God's) cause (all is present and happen)".[2]


A variant letter of bāʾ named pe is used in Persian with three dots below instead of just one dot below. However, it is not included on one of the 28 letters on the Arabic alphabet. It is thus written as:

Position in word Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
پ ـپ ـپـ پـ

Hebrew bet[edit]

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ב ב ב

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)[3] and veis (/bejs/) (or vais or vaiz).[4] 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%.

Variations on written form/pronunciation[edit]

Name Symbol IPA Transliteration Example
Vet ב /v/ v vote
Bet בּ /b/ b boat

Bet with the dagesh[edit]

When the Bet appears as בּ with a "dot" in its center, known as a dagesh, then it represents /b/. There are various rules in Hebrew grammar that stipulate when and why a dagesh is used.

Bet without the dagesh (Vet)[edit]

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.

Mystical significance of ב[edit]

Bet in gematria represents the number 2.

As a prefix, the letter bet may function as a preposition meaning "in", "at", or "with".

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."[5]

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.[6]

Syriac beth[edit]

Madnḫaya Beth
Serṭo Beth
Esṭrangela Beth

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.

Other uses[edit]


In set theory, the beth numbers stand for powers of infinite sets.

Character encodings[edit]

Character information
Preview ב ب ܒ
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 1489 U+05D1 1576 U+0628 1810 U+0712 2049 U+0801 8502 U+2136
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 ב ب ب ܒ ܒ ࠁ ࠁ ℶ ℶ
Named character reference ℶ

Character information
Preview 𐎁 𐡁 𐤁
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 66433 U+10381 67649 U+10841 67841 U+10901
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 𐎁 𐡁 𐡁 𐤁 𐤁

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mengapa Basmalah Diawali Huruf 'Ba'?". NU Online (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 2024-04-10. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  2. ^ Syafirin, Muhammad (2022-01-05). "Menyingkap Tabir Huruf Ba'; Muara Al-Qur'an Sumber Segala Ilmu". Darul Kamal Islamic College (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 2024-04-10. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  3. ^ The school system Bais Yaakov or BaisYakov.net in Baltimore
  4. ^ "Learning Alef-Bais". October 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 24, 2023. Retrieved June 22, 2018. "His Hebrew Morah is teaching the sounds of the alef bais based on English ... For Vais, since there are no Hebrew words that begin with a vais, ..." (whether or not it's true that "no Hebrew..." is not the point. It's that the teacher uses VAIZ)
  5. ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). The Legends of the Jews Vol. I : Alphabet Archived 2020-03-13 at the Wayback Machine (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
  6. ^ Genesis Rabbah 1:10

External links[edit]