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Bet, Beth, or Vet is the second letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Syriac and Arabic alphabet . Its value is a voiced bilabial plosive, IPA .

This letter's name means "house" in various Semitic languages (Hebrew: bayiṯ, Arabic bayt, Akkadian bītu, bētu, Phoenician byt etc.; ultimately all from Proto-Semitic *bayt-), and appears to derive from a Middle Bronze Age picture of a house by acrophony.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Beta, Latin B, and Cyrillic Б, В.

Hebrew Bet / Vet

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
Script
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ב ב ב
The Hebrew letter represents two different phonemes: a "b" sound ( ) (bet) and a "v" sound ( ) (vet). The two are distinguished by a dot (called a dagesh) in the centre of the letter for and no dot for .

This letter is named bet and vet, following the modern Israeli Hebrew pronunciation, bet and vet ( ), in Israelmarker and by most Jews familiar with Hebrew, although some non-Israeli Ashkenazi speakers pronounce it beis and veis ( ), and some Jews pronounce it beth and veth ( ). It is also named beth, following the Tiberian Hebrew pronunciation, in academic circles.

Variations on written form/pronunciation

Name Symbol IPA Transliteration Example
Vet v vote
Bet b boat


Bet with the dagesh

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

Bet without the dagesh (Vet)

When this letter appears as ב without the dagesh ("dot") in its center then it represents a voiced labiodental fricative: .

Significance of ב, mystical and otherwise

Bet in gematria symbolizes 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.

Rashi points out that the letter is closed on three sides and open on one; this is to teach you that you may question about what happened after creation, but not what happened before it, or what is above the heavens or below the earth.

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

Syriac Beth

In the Syriac alphabet, the second letter is — Beth ( ). 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 [[[voiced bilabial plosive|b]]]. When Beth has a soft pronunciation (''{{unicode|rûkkāḵâ}}'') it is traditionally pronounced as a [[[voiced bilabial fricative|v]]]. 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.

Arabic

The Arabic letter is named باء ( ), and is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

In most cases, letter bāʼ renders /b/ sound, except some foreign words where it can render /p/, often arabised as /b/. It may be used interchangeably with the Persian letter - pāʼ (with 3 dots) in this case.

References


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