Adjective Cardinal Number


Cardinal numbers are used to describe quantity or to express the name of a number itself (“one”, “two”, “three”, etc.).


Neither Biblical Hebrew nor Biblical Aramaic contains numerals (“1”, “2”, “3”, etc.) but rather uses words to express numbers (“one”, “two”, “three”, etc.). There are two different kinds of numbers: cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. Cardinal numbers are used either to express the name of a number itself or to express the quantity of a thing (“one”, “two”, “three”, etc.).

Cardinal numbers function as attributive adjectives, but they do not always follow the same grammatical rules. They may appear either before or after the noun they describe, and they may not always have the same grammatical form (gender, number, definiteness) as the noun they describe. As with other adjectives, a cardinal number can function as a noun and can appear in either the absolute the construct state.


Sometimes a cardinal form (“one”, “two”, “three”, etc.) is used, but an ordinal meaning (“first”, “second”, “third”, etc.) is clearly indicated from the context.


“One” Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular absolute אֶחָד ‘ehad one
masculine singular construct אַחַד ‘ahad one of
feminine singular absolute אַחַת ‘ahath one
feminine singular construct אַחַת ‘ahath one of
Example: JDG 18:19
אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָ֔ד
‘ish ‘ehad
man one
one man
Example: 1SA 13:17
הָרֹ֨אשׁ אֶחָ֥ד
harosh ‘ehad
The-group one
One group

The following example is a cardinal number functioning as a noun.

Example: GEN 19:9
הָאֶחָ֤ד בָּֽא־לָגוּר֙
ha’ehad ba-lagur
The-one came-in_to-live-as-a-foreigner
This one came here to live as a foreigner


As would be expected, the number “two” in Biblical Hebrew always takes the dual form.

“Two” Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine dual absolute שְׁנַיִם shenayim two
masculine dual construct שְׁנֵי shene two of
feminine dual absolute שְׁתַּיִם shetayim two
feminine dual construct שְׁתֵּי shete two of
Example: 1CH 4:5
שְׁתֵּ֣י נָשִׁ֑ים
shete nashim
two women
two women
Example: 2CH 3:15
עַמּוּדִ֣ים שְׁנַ֔יִם
‘ammudim shenayim
pillars two
two pillars

The following example is a cardinal number with a pronominal suffix.

Example: GEN 3:7
two of them
both of them



These numbers have specialized uses when they take either a dual ending or a plural ending. When these numbers take a dual ending, they become simple multiples (“three-fold”, “four-fold”, “five-fold”, etc.); but when they take a plural ending, they become multiples of ten (“thirty”, “forty”, “fifty”, etc.).

3-10 Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular absolute שָׁלֹשׁ shalosh three
masculine singular construct שְׁלֹשׁ shelosh three of
feminine singular absolute שְׁלֹשָׁה sheloshah three
feminine singular construct שְׁלֹשֶׁת shelosheth three of
masculine singular absolute אַרְבַּע ‘arba’ four
masculine singular construct אַרְבַּע ‘arba’ four of
feminine singular absolute אַרְבָּעָה ‘arba’ah four
feminine singular construct אַרְבַּעַת ‘arba’ath four of
masculine singular absolute חָמֵשׁ hamesh five
masculine singular construct חֲמֵשׁ hamesh five of
feminine singular absolute חֲמִשָּׁה hamishah five
feminine singular construct חֲמֵשֶׁת hameshet five of
masculine singular absolute שֵׁשׁ shesh six
masculine singular construct שֵׁשׁ shesh six of
feminine singular absolute שִׁשָּׁה shishah six
feminine singular construct שֵׁשֶׁת sheshet six of
masculine singular absolute שֶׁבַע sheva’ seven
masculine singular construct שֶׁבַע sheva’ seven of
feminine singular absolute שִׁבְעָה shiv’ah seven
feminine singular construct שִׁבְעַת shiv’at seven of
masculine singular absolute שְׁמֹנֶה shemoneh eight
masculine singular construct שְׁמֹנֶה shemoneh eight of
feminine singular absolute שְׁמֹנָה shemonah eight
feminine singular construct שִׁמֹנַת shimonath eight of
masculine singular absolute תֵּשַׁע tesha’ nine
masculine singular construct תֵּשַׁע tesha’ nine of
feminine singular absolute תִּשְׁעָה tish’ah nine
feminine singular construct תִּשְׁעַת tish’ath nine of
masculine singular absolute עֶשֶׂר ‘eser ten
masculine singular construct עֶשֶׂר ‘eser ten of
feminine singular absolute עֲשָׂרָה ‘asarah ten
feminine singular construct עֲשֶׂרֶת ‘asereth ten of
Example: JOS 21:18
עָרִ֖ים אַרְבַּֽע׃
‘arim ‘arba’
cities four
four cities
Example: JOB 1:2
שִׁבְעָ֥ה בָנִ֖ים וְשָׁל֥וֹשׁ בָּנֽוֹת
shiv’ah vanim weshalosh banoth
seven sons and-three daughters
seven sons and three daughters
Example: GEN 4:15
כָּל־הֹרֵ֣ג קַ֔יִן שִׁבְעָתַ֖יִם יֻקָּ֑ם
kol-horeg qayin shiv’athayim yuqqam
all_he-who-kills Cain sevenfold he-will-be-avenged
If anyone kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.
Example: 2SA 12:6
וְאֶת־הַכִּבְשָׂ֖ה יְשַׁלֵּ֣ם אַרְבַּעְתָּ֑יִם
we’eth-hakkivsah yeshallem ‘arba’tayim
and-[dir.obj]-the-lamb he-will-restore fourfold
He must pay back the lamb four times over


The numbers 11-19 are formed by writing the number 1-9 followed by the number 10. Thus, in Biblical Hebrew the number “eleven” is written as “one ten”; the number “seventeen” is written as “seven ten”, etc.

11-19 Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine אַחַד עָשָׂר ‘ahad ‘asar eleven
feminine אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה ‘ahath ‘esreh eleven
masculine שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר shenem ‘asar twelve
feminine שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה shetem ‘esreh twelve
masculine שְׁלֹשָׁה עָשָׂר sheloshah ‘asar thirteen
feminine שָׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה shalosh ‘esreh thirteen
masculine אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר ‘arba’ah ‘asar fourteen
feminine אַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה ‘arba’ ‘esreh fourteen
masculine חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר hamishah ‘asar fifteen
feminine חָמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה hamesh ‘esreh fifteen
masculine שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר shishah ‘asar sixteen
feminine שֵׁשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה shesh ‘esreh sixteen
masculine שִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר shiv’ah ‘asar seventeen
feminine שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה sheva’ ‘esreh seventeen
masculine שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר shemonah ‘asar eighteen
feminine שְׁמֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה shemoneh ‘esreh eighteen
masculine תִּשְׁעָה עָשָׂר tish’ah ‘asar nineteen
feminine תְּשַׁע עֶשְׂרֵה tesha’ ‘esreh nineteen
Example: JOS 15:41
עָרִ֥ים שֵׁשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה
‘arim shesh-‘esreh
cities six_ten
sixteen cities
Example: 2SA 9:10
חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר בָּנִ֖ים
hamishah ‘asar banim
five ten sons
fifteen sons
Example: JOS 4:4
וַיִּקְרָ֣א יְהֹושֻׁ֗עַ אֶל־שְׁנֵ֤ים הֶֽעָשָׂר֙ אִ֔ישׁ
wayyiqra yehowshua’ ‘el-shenem he’asar ‘ish
And-he-called Joshua to_two ten man
Then Joshua called the twelve men


Multiples of ten (20, 30, 40, etc.)

Multiples of Ten Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
gender both עֶשְׂרִים ‘esrim twenty
gender both שְׁלֹשִׁים sheloshim thirty
gender both אַרְבָּעִים ‘arba’im forty
gender both חֲמִשִּׁים hamishim fifty
gender both שִׁשִּׁים shishim sixty
gender both שִׁבְעִים shiv’im seventy
gender both שְׁמֹנִים shemonim eighty
gender both תִּשְׁעִים tish’im ninety
Example: GEN 18:31
לֹ֣א אַשְׁחִ֔ית בַּעֲב֖וּר הָֽעֶשְׂרִֽים׃
lo ‘ashhith ba’avur ha’esrim
not I-will-destroy for-sake-of the-twenty.
I will not destroy it for the twenty’s sake

In the following example, the nouns “day” and “night” are singular in form but plural in meaning.

Example: GEN 7:4
אַרְבָּעִ֣ים יֹ֔ום וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָ֑יְלָה
‘arba’im yowm we’arba’im laylah
forty day and-forty night
forty days and forty nights

Multiples of ten plus units (21, 32, 43, etc.)

These numbers are written following the same rules as the numbers 11-19. Thus, the number “twenty-one” is written as “one twenty”; the number “thirty-two” is written as “two thirty”; the number “forty-three” is writen as “three forty”, etc.

Example: GEN 5:20
שְׁתַּ֤יִם וְשִׁשִּׁים֙ שָׁנָ֔ה
shetayim weshishim shanah
two and-sixty year
sixty-two years
Example: DAN 9:26
וְאַחֲרֵ֤י הַשָּׁבֻעִים֙ שִׁשִּׁ֣ים וּשְׁנַ֔יִם
we’ahare hashavu’im shishim ushenayim
And-after the-weeks sixty and-two
After the sixty-two weeks

Multiples of 100, 1000, 10000, etc.

The nouns “hundred” (100) and “thousand” (1000) function the same as any other common noun with singular, dual, and plural forms. Although the number for “hundred” uses feminine endings and the number for “thousand” uses masculine endings, both numbers should be classified as “gender both” because the same form can be both grammatically-masculine and grammatically-feminine.

Multiples of 100, 1000, 10000, etc. Paradigm
Form Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
gender both singular absolute מֵאָה me’ah hundred
gender both singular construct מְאַת me’ath hundred of
gender both dual absolute מָאתַיִם mathayim two hundred
gender both plural absolute מֵאוֹת me’oth hundreds
gender both plural construct מֵאוֹת me’oth hundreds of
gender both singular absolute אֶלֶף ‘elef thousand
gender both singular construct אֶלֶף ‘elef thousand of
gender both dual absolute אַלְפַּיִם ‘alpayim two thousand
gender both plural absolute אֲלָפַיִם ‘alafayim thousands
gender both plural construct אַלְפֵי ‘alfe thousands of
Example: GEN 5:5
וַיִּֽהְי֞וּ כָּל־יְמֵ֤י אָדָם֙ אֲשֶׁר־חַ֔י תְּשַׁ֤ע מֵאוֹת֙ שָׁנָ֔ה וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֖ים שָׁנָ֑ה וַיָּמֹֽת
wayyiheyu kol-yeme ‘adam ‘asher-hay tesha’ me’oth shanah usheloshim shanah wayyamoth
And-it-was all_days-of Adam which_he-lived nine hundred year and-thirty year and-he-died.
Adam lived 930 years altogether, and then he died.
Example: GEN 11:17
וַֽיְחִי־עֵ֗בֶר … שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וְאַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָ֑ה
wayehi-‘ever … sheloshim shanah we’arba’ me’oth shanah
And-he-lived Eber … thirty year and-four hundred year
Eber … lived 430 more years
Example: GEN 20:16
נָתַ֜תִּי אֶ֤לֶף כֶּ֙סֶף֙ לְאָחִ֔יךְ
nathatti ‘elef kesef le’ahikh
I-have-given thousand-of silver to-your-brother
I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver.
Example: 1SA 29:2
וְסַרְנֵ֤י פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ עֹֽבְרִ֔ים לְמֵא֖וֹת וְלַאֲלָפִ֑ים
wesarne felishtim ‘overim leme’oth wela’alafim
And-the-lords-of the-Philistines were-passing-over by-hundreds and-by-thousands
The princes of the Philistines passed on by hundreds and by thousands

In the following example, multiples of 1,000 are expressed by numbers in a construct phrase.

Example: JDG 1:4
וַיַּכּ֣וּם בְּבֶ֔זֶק עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת אֲלָפִ֖ים אִֽישׁ׃
wayyakkum bevezeq ‘asereth ‘alafim ‘ish
And-they-defeated in-Bezek ten-of thousands man
They killed ten thousand of them at Bezek.