Back

Biblical Greek (Advanced): 01. Numerals

Numerals are really easy to learn because it is mostly about vocabulary thing. So in order to master numerals, you simply need to learn them (use exercises). However, few words are worth to be mentioned about them.

You will find the full list of the Greek numerals in the exercises section. 

Inflection

The first four cardinal numerals can be inflected. Other numbers 4-99 have only one form and numbers greater than 100 are inflected as adjectives.

    N G D A
1 m. εἷς ἑνός ἑνί ἕνα
f. μία μιᾶς μιᾷ μίαν
n. ἕν ἑνός ἑνί ἕν
           
2 m., n., f. δύο δύο δυσί δύο
           
3 m., n. τρεῖς τριῶν τρισί(ν) τρεῖς
f. τρία τριῶν τρισί(ν) τρία
           
4 m., n. τέσσαρες τεσσάρων τέσσαρσι(ν) τέσσαρας
f. τέσσαρα τεσσάρων τέσσαρσι(ν) τέσσαρα

Composition

In order to compose a number, you have to add words together starting with the greatest to lowest:

  • εἴκοσι τέσσαρας = 24
  • ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τεσσάρων = 144
  • χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα = 1 260

Alphabet Numbers

Every alphabet character has its corresponding numeral value:

Α α a (alpha) 1
Β β b (beta) 2
Γ γ g (gamma) 3
Δ δ d (delta) 4
Ε ε e (epsilon) 5
Ϝ ϛ w (vau, digamma, stigma) 6
Ζ ζ dz (dzeta) 7
Η η e (eta) 8
Θ θ th (theta) 9
Ι ι i (iota) 10
Κ κ k (kappa) 20
Λ λ l (lambda) 30
Μ μ m (mu) 40
Ν ν n (nu) 50
Ξ ξ ks (xi) 60
Ο ο o (omikron) 70
Π π p (pi) 80
Ϙ q (koppa) 900
Ρ ρ r (rho) 100
Σ σ/ς s (sigma) 200
Τ τ t (tau) 300
Υ υ y (upsilon) 400
Φ φ f (fi) 500
Χ χ ch (chi) 600
Ψ ψ ps (psi) 700
Ω ω o (omega) 800
ϡ ts (sampi) 900

Grey highlighted letters were used, at the time of NT, only as symbols for numbers.

In order to compose a number you just add the letters together like (additive system): ρκα = 121 (100+20+1) or νερων = 1005 (50+5+100+800+50). 

You can witness this usage for example in the case of the famous number 666 in Revelation 13:18. Some manuscripts are using alphabetical numerals χξς, others are using words ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ or different variations of numeral words.

This relates to isopsephism (ἴσος meaning "equal" and ψῆφος meaning "pebble") the practice of adding numbers to a single word. By doing this, you can make ciphers to code a hidden meaning. Thus in the case of Revelation 13:18 we are advised to wisdom (ὧδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν), because the author is using the cipher to express his thoughts in a secret manner. If you are familiar with the interpretation of this text, you know that there are various opinions about the identity of the 666 person.

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.


Charts

Alphabet

Greek