Adjective Ordinal Number


Ordinal numbers are used to express a rank or order of items in a series (first, second, third, etc.) or to express a part of a whole (a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc.).


Biblical Hebrew contains two sets of numbers: cardinal numbers and ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers describe either a numeric rank/order or a portion of a whole. “First” through “tenth” have unique ordinal forms, but the cardinal forms are used from “eleventh” and higher. Ordinal numbers function as attributive adjectives, but they may not always have the same grammatical form (gender, number, definiteness) as the noun they describe. .. note:: Sometimes a cardinal form is used, but an ordinal meaning is

clearly indicated from the context (see examples below).

“First” through “Tenth”

“First” through “Tenth” Paradigm
word Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine רִאֹשׁוֹן ri’oshon first
masculine שֵׁנִי sheni second
masculine שְׁלִישִׁי shelishi third
masculine רְבִיעִי rebi’i fourth
masculine חֲמִישִׁי hamishi fifth
masculine שִׁשִּׁי shishi sixth
masculine שְׁבִיעִי shevi’i seventh
masculine שְׁמִינִי shemini eighth
masculine תְּשִׁיעִי teshi’i ninth
masculine עֲשִׂירִי ‘asiri tenth
Example: GEN 47:18
בַּשָּׁנָ֣ה הַשֵּׁנִ֗ית
bashanah hashenith
in-the-year the-second
in the second year

The following example is a definite ordinal number describing an indefinite noun.

Example: DEU 5:14
וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י
weyom hashevi’i
and-day the-seventh
and the seventh day

The following examples show cardinal numbers functioning as ordinal numbers.

Example: 2KI 15:32
בִּשְׁנַ֣ת שְׁתַּ֔יִם
bishnath shetayim
in-year two
in the second year
Example: 2SA 4:2
שֵׁם֩ הָאֶחָ֨ד … וְשֵׁ֧ם הַשֵּׁנִ֣י
shem ha’ehad … weshem hasheni
name-of the-one … and-name-of the-two
the name of the first … and the name of the second

“Eleventh” and higher

The cardinal forms are used for ordinal numbers higher than ten (“eleventh”, “twelfth”, etc.).

Example: GEN 7:11
בְּשִׁבְעָֽה־עָשָׂ֥ר יֹ֖ום
beshiv’ah-‘asar yowm
in seven_ten day
on the seventeenth day
Example: 1KI 19:19
וְה֖וּא בִּשְׁנֵ֣ים הֶעָשָׂ֑ר
wehu bishnem he’asar
and-he in-two the-ten
and he was with the twelfth

Part of a whole

Example: GEN 47:24
וּנְתַתֶּ֥ם חֲמִישִׁ֖ית לְפַרְעֹ֑ה
unethattem hamishith lefar’oh
and-you-must-give a-fifth to-Pharaoh
you must give one fifth of the crop to the king