Biblical Hebrew: 09. Numerals

Cardinal and Ordinal Numerals

Numerals are not difficult to learn because we just need to learn their vocabulary. Therefore, for mastering their knowledge we need to memorize them (use exercises). Nevertheless, some things are needed to be pointed out.

There are two main categories of Hebrew numerals called cardinal numerals (used for counting such as one, two, three, etc.), and ordinal numerals (used for position or consecution such as first, second, third, etc.). Both the cardinal and ordinal numbers are classified as nouns, however, the ordinal numbers also function as adjectives following the modified noun and agreeing with its gender.

The first table shows the cardinal numbers:

  With masculines With feminines
  Absolute Construct Absolute Construct
1 אֶחָד אַחַד אַחַת אַחַת
2 שְׁנַיִם שְׁנֵי שְׁתַּיִם שְׁתֵּי
3 שְׁלשָׁה שְׁלשֶׁת שָׁלשׁ שְׁלשׁ
4 אַרְבָּעָה אַרְבַּעַת אַרְבַּע אַרְבַּע
5 חֲמִשָּׁה חֲמֵשֶׁת חָמֵשׁ חֲמֵשׁ
6 שִׁשָּׁה שֵׁשֶׁת שֵׁשׁ שֵׁשׁ
7 שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעַת שֶׁבַע שְׁבַע
8 שְׁמֹנָה שְׁמֹנַת שְׁמֹנֶה שְׁמֹנֶה
9 תִּשְׁעָה תִּשְׁעַת תֵּשַׁע תְּשַׁע
10 עֲשָׂרָה עֲשֶׂרֶת עֶשֶׂר עֶשֶׂר

Cardinal numbers are able to receive pronominal suffixes on the account of their noun character.

Below is the second table containing the ordinal numbers:

  Masculine Feminine
1. רִאשׁוֹן רִאשׁוֹנָה
2. שֵׁנִי שְׁנִיָּה
3. שְׁלִישִׁי שְׁלִישִׁית
4. רְבִיעִי רְבִיעִית
5. חֲמִישִׁי חֲמִישִׁית
6. שִׁשִּׁי שִׁשִּׁית
7. שְׁבִיעִי שְׁבִיעִית
8. שְׁמִינִי שְׁמִינִית
9. תְּשִׁיעִי תְּשִׁיעִית
10. עֲשִׂירִי עֲשִׂירִית

As you can see they come only in one form since they function as adjectives.

The special phenomenon, which can not be satisfactorily explained, is that cardinal numbers 3-10 take feminine forms when they modify masculine nouns and vice versa (they disagree in gender). Ordinals are safe from the phenomenon since they agree in gender and number with the modified noun. This is best seen in this example:

שְׁנֵי בָנֶים two sons
שְׁלֹשָׁה בָנֶים three sons

Composition of Greater Numerals

In order to compose a number 11-19 you have to employ the word עָשָׂר at the end of the numeral phrase: (all of the tables below show only masculine forms)

אַחַד עָשָׂר 11
שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר 12 (dual)
שְׁלשָׁה עָשָׂר 13
אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר 14
חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר 15
שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר 16
שִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר 17
שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר 18
תִּשְׁעָה עָשָׂר 19

Numerals for tens

עֶשְׂדִים 20
שְׁלשִׁים 30
אַרְבָּעִים 40
חֲמִשִּׁים 50
שִׁשִּׁים 60
שִׁבְעִים 70
שְׁמֹנִים 80
תִּשְׁעִים 90

In order to compose a number 21-99, you have to add numerals together starting with the greatest to lowest using the conjunction וְ:

עֶשְׂרִים וְאֶחָד 21

Numerals for hundreds

For numbers 300-900 the feminine noun מֵאוֹת is used with 3-9 having the masculine form.

מֵאָה 100
מָאתַ֫יִם 200 (dual)
שְׁלשׁ מֵאוֹת 300

Numerals between 301-999 using the conjunction וְ as follows:

שְׁלשׁ מֵאוֹת וְעֶשְׂרִים וְאֶחָד 321

Numerals for thousands

אֶ֫לֶף 1000
אַלְפַּ֫יִם 2000 (dual)
שְׁלשֶׁת אֲלָפִים 3000

The composition of a number between 3001-9999 uses the conjunction וְ as follows:

שְׁלשֶׁת אֲלָפִים וְשְׁלשׁ מֵאוֹת וְעֶשְׂרִים וְאֶחָד 3321


The full list of all essential numerals can be found in the exercises.

Alphabet Numbers

Every alphabet character has its corresponding numeral value as is shown in the table:

  א   - (ˈalef) 1
בּ ב   b (bet), v (vet) 2
גּ ג   g (gimel) 3
דּ ד   d (dalet) 4
  ה   h (he) 5
  ו   w (vav) 6
  ז   z (zayin) 7
  ח   h (het) 8
  ט   t (tet) 9
  י   y (yod) 10
כּ כ ך k (kaf), ch (chaf) 20
  ל   l (lamed) 30
  מ ם m (mem) 40
  נ ן n (nun) 50
  ס   s (samekh) 60
  ע   - (ˈayin) 70
פּ פ ף p (pe), f (phe) 80
  צ ץ ts (tsadi) 90
  ק   q (qof) 100
  ר   r (resh) 200
שׂ שׁ   s, (sin), sh (shin) 300
תּ ת   t (tav) 400

In order to compose a number you need to add the letters together (additive system) as suggested by the following examples:

יז 17 (10+7)
פא 81 (80+1)
קט 109 (100+9)
קמד 144 (100+40+4)

This work with alphabet relates to gematria which is the practice of assigning numerical values to letters used in words and suggesting that these numerical values have some meaning. Therefore, especially in Hebrew, some people are trying to interpret hidden meaning in the numerical value of the text. This is known as the Bible code.


  • Memorize the basic numerals in the vocabulary exercises
  • Find all numerals in the Creation Account (Genesis 1)


Hebrew numerals

  • Cardinal numerals disagree in gender with the noun they modify
  • Ordinal numerals function as adjectives


  • Letters of the alphabet have numerical value