Several variations were used for the original pictograph including , , , and . Each of these pictographs are representative of a house or tent. The pictograph is chosen as it best represents the nomadic tents of the Hebrews. The tent was divided into two sections, men's and women's, with the entrance at the front of the tent in the men's section and an entrance from the men's to the women's section.
The Hebrew word (bet) means house or tent as well as family. A common designation for a family is to identify the “house” of the family patriarch such as in “The house of Jacob”.
The meanings of this letter are house, tent, family as well as in, with, inside or within as the family resides within the house or tent.
The original name for this letter is bet, the parent root of the child root beyt (meaning house) and is equivalent to the Greek name beta and the Arabic name beyt. This letter is pronounced as a “b” when sounded as a stop such as in the word “beyt” or a “bh” (v) when sounded as a spirant as in the word “shubh” (shoov).
This letter is commonly used as a prefix to words to mean “in” or “with” as in “be'erets” meaning “in a land”.
The Early Semitic letter evolved into in the Middle Semitic script and into in the Late Semitic script. The Modern Hebrew letter ב developed out of the Late Semitic. The Middle Semitic script was adopted by the Greeks to become the letter b (a reverse direction due to being written from right to left instead of left to right) and the Roman B and b. The Late Semitic script became the number “2”.