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Greek Numbers

Greeks, like most ancient people, used the decimal system for counting and mathematical purposes. That is, their numbers were based on ten, with individual numbers from one to nine, then from ten to nineteen, twenty to twenty-nine, and so on. They did not really have a word for the number zero, but indicated zero with the neuter form of the negative adjective/pronoun, that is with either οὐδέν (meaning "nothing," used in a clause which has an indicative verb) or μηδέν (meaning "nothing," used in a clause which has a verb in an oblique mode).

The Greek cardinal numbers (numbers used for counting, as in "one, two, three ...") were adjectives, often with forms for each gender and case. And, like any adjectives, these cardinal numbers could also be used substantively (as nouns). Actually, a few numbers even had noun cognates as well. As an adjective, each cardinal number had to match the case and grammatical gender of the noun or substantive it modified (or sometimes the natural gender of its antecedent if it was used substantively). Of course, since the Greek cardinal number meaning "one" could only modify a singular noun, or be used as a substantive representing only one person or thing, it only had singular forms, no plural forms. Then all the other cardinal numbers only had only plural forms, since each form could only be used to modify a plural noun, or be used as a substantive representing a quantity of more than one.

The Greeks had ordinals ("first, second, third ...") as well, which were also adjectives. These adjectives had both singular and plural forms for each gender and case. This is because one person or thing might be first, second or third. But a group of persons, or a bunch of things, might also be first, second or third in comparison to other groups or bunches. And, as with all adjectives, it also had to match the gender and case of the word it modified.

Then the Greeks had an adverbial form for each number ("once, twice, three times ..."). Like other adverbs, these are indeclinable, and there is only one form per number. In addition to this, the Greeks employed a way of writing numerals, based on the alphabet. These cardinal numbers, ordinals, adverbial forms of numbers, and numerals are all briefly explained below.


The Greek Adjective Meaning
"One"

The declension of εἷς ("one") is like most 3-1-3 type adjectives, but its flexion only has singular forms (since the number is singular, of course). Masculine and neuter forms build on a stem of ἑν. And the masculine nominative form takes the sigma case ending (not the zero morph ending), which causes the nu to drop off and a compensatory lengthening of the vowel to εἱ. The feminine form has a root of μι, and is declined like any 1st declension ριε stem (D1.1).

Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
   Singular Only
Nominative εἷς μία ἕν
Accusative ἕνα μίαν ἕν
Genitive ἑνός μιᾶς ἑνός
Dative ἑνί μιᾷ ἑνί


The Greek Adjective Meaning
"Two"

Two remains the same for all genders. It is basically indeclinable, but also has a couple of other case forms which were used, and even two forms for the dative case.


The Greek Adjective Meaning
"Three"

The number three declines like the plural forms of a 3-3 type adjective, and its stem is τρι. When either the ες or ας case ending is joined, the result will be the same, τρεῖς. This means the nominative and accusative forms for masculine and feminine genders will be the same, but the neuter will have a different nominative and accusative case form. Then all three genders will have the same genitive and dative forms.

Case Masculine/Feminine Neuter
   Plural Only
Nominative τρεῖς τρία
Accusative τρεῖς τρία
Genitive τριῶν τριῶν
Dative τρισί(ν) τρισί(ν)


The Greek Adjective Meaning
"Four"

The number four also declines just like any other 3-3 adjective. The stem is τεσσαρ, but may change to τετταρ at times.

Case Masculine/Feminine Neuter
   Plural Only
Nominative τέσσαρες τέσσαρα
Accusative τέσσαρας τέσσαρα
Genitive τεσσάρων τεσσάρων
Dative τέσσαρσι(ν) τέσσαρσι(ν)

Alternative forms may be:

Case Masculine/Feminine Neuter
   Plural Only
Nominative τέτταρες τέτταρα
Accusative τέτταρας τέτταρα
Genitive τεττάρων τεττάρων
Dative τέτταρσι(ν) τέτταρσι(ν)



The Greek Adjectives Meaning
"Five" to "One Hundred"

Greek numbers from five to one hundred are indeclinable:

  • Five:   πέντε
  • Six:  ἕξ
  • Seven:   ἑπτά
  • Eight:   ὀκτώ
  • Nine:   ἐννέα
  • Ten:   δέκα
  • Eleven:  ἕνδεκα
  • Twelve:   δώδεκα
  • Thirteen:   τρεῖς καὶ δέκα
  • Fourteen:   τέτταρες καὶ δέκα
  • Fifteen:   πεντεκαίδεκα
  • Sixteen:   ἑκκαίδεκα
  • Seventeen:   ἑπτακαίδεκα
  • Eighteen:   ὀκτωκαίδεκα
  • Nineteen:   ἐννεακαίδεκα
  • Twenty:   εἴκοσι (ν)
  • Thirty:   τριάκοντα
  • Forty:   τεσσαράκοντα
  • Fifty:   πεντήκοντα
  • Sixty:   ἑξήκοντα
  • Seventy:   ἑβδομήκοντα
  • Eighty:   ὀγδοήκοντα
  • Ninety:   ἐννενήκοντα
  • One Hundred:   ἑκατόν

The Greek Adjectives Meaning
"Two Hundred" to "Ten Thousand"

The rest of the numbers are declined like ordinary (2-1-2) adjectives -- but only the plural forms of the flexion, of course.

Number Masculine Feminine Neuter
200 διακόσιοι διακόσιαι διακόσια
300 τριακόσιοι τριακόσιαι τριακόσια
400 τετρακόσιοι τετρακόσιαι τετρακόσια
500 πεντακόσιοι πεντακόσιαι πεντακόσια
600 ἑξακόσιοι ἑξακόσιαι ἑξακόσια
700 ἑπτακόσιοι ἑπτακόσιαι ἑπτακόσια
800 ὀκτακόσιοι ὀκτακόσιαι ὀκτακόσια
900 ἐνακόσιοι ἐνακόσιαι ἐνακόσια
1,000 χίλιοι χίλιαι χίλια
10,000 μύριοι μύριαι μύρια


Examples of Numbers in the GNT

εἴκοσι τέσσαρας   = 24   (Rev 4:4)

τριάκοντα   = 30   (Mat 13:8)

τεσσεράκοντα καὶ δύο   = 42   (Rev 11:2)

ἐξήκοντα   = 60   (Mat 13:8)

ἑβδομήκοντα δύο   = 72   (Lk 10:1)

ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων   = 84   (Lk 2:37)

ἑκατόν   = 100   (Mat 13:8)

ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τεσσάρων   = 144   (Rev 21:17)

τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα   = 430   (Gal 3:17)

ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ   = 666   (Rev 13:18)

χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα   = 1,260   (Rev 11:3)

χιλίων ἑξακοσίων   = 1,600   (Rev 14:20)

τετρακισχίλιοι   = 4,000   (Mat 15:38)

πεντακισχίλιοι   = 5,000   (Mat 14:21)

δώδεκα χιλιάδες   = 12,000   (12 thousands, Rev 7:5)

ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τέσσαρες χιλιάδες   = 144,000   (Rev 7:4)

δισμυριάδες μυριάδων   = 200 million   (i.e. 20000 X 10000, Rev 9:16)


Greek Ordinals

Greek ordinals are adjectives which indicate the order or succession of persons or things ("first, second, third ..."). Each ordinal must agree in gender, number and case with the noun it modifies. As an example, the masculine, feminine and neuter flexions of the ordinal πρῶτος are provided in a table beneath this paragraph. But only the nominative singular forms are shown for the rest of the ordinals in the chart below that, because they all decline in basically the same way, according to a 2-1-2 pattern. The lexical form is the nominative singular masculine form (the first form displayed), normally ending in ος. The nominative singular feminine form usually ends in η, and a nominative singular neuter form usually ends in ον.

The flexions of the ordinal πρῶτος are:

Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
   Singular
Nominative πρῶτος πρώτη πρῶτον
Accusative πρῶτον πρώτην πρῶτον
Genitive πρώτου πρώτης πρώτου
Dative πρώτῳ πρώτῃ πρώτῳ
   Plural
Nominative πρῶτοι πρῶται πρῶτα
Accusative πρώτους πρώτας πρῶτα
Genitive πρώτων πρώτων πρώτων
Dative πρώτοις πρώταις πρώτοις


The other ordinals would be declined in a similar way. Some of these are:

Value Masculine Feminine Neuter
First πρῶτος πρώτη πρῶτον
Second δεύτερος δεύτερα δεύτερον
Third τρίτος τρίτη τρίτον
Fourth τέταρτος τετάρτη τέταρτον
Fifth πέμπτος πέμπτη πέμπτον
Sixth ἕκτος ἕκτη ἕκτον
Seventh ἕβδομος ἑβδόμη ἕβδομον
Eighth ὄγδοος ὀγδόη ὄγδοον
Nineth ἔνατος ἐνάη ἔνατον
Tenth δέκατος δεκάτη δέκατον
Eleventh ἑνδέδατος ἑνδεδάτη ἑνδέδατον
Twelfth δωδέκατος δωδεκάτη δωδέκατον
Thirteenth τρίτος καὶ δέκατος τρίτη καὶ δεκάτη τρίτον καὶ δέκατον
Fourteenth τέταρτος καὶ δέκατος τετάρτη καὶ δεκάτη τέταρτον καὶ δέκατον
Twentieth εἰκοστός εἰκοστή εἰκοστόν
Thirtieth τριακοστός τριακοστή τριακοστόν
Hundredth ἑκατοστός ἑκατοστή ἑκατοστόν
Two
Hundredth
διακοσιοστός διακοσιοστή διακοσιοστόν
Thousandth χιλιοστός χιλιοστή χιλιοστόν
Ten
Thousandth
μυριοστός μυριοστή μυριοστόν


Adverbial Forms of Greek Numbers

These adverbs are mostly used to modify verbs, in the way we could use the English adverb "twice" to modify the verb "knocked" in the sentence, "He knocked twice." Since an adverb has only one form, there is no declension to worry about. It should perhaps be mentioned that many of these adverbs have a κις suffix.

  • Once:  ἅπαξ
  • Twice:  δίς
  • Three Times:  τρίς
  • Four Times:  τετράκις
  • Five Times:  πεντάκις
  • Six Times:  ἑξάκις
  • Seven Times:  ἑπτάκις
  • Eight Times:  ὀκτάκις
  • Nine Times:  ἐνάκις
  • Ten Times:  δεκάκις
  • Eleven Times:  ἑνδεκάκις
  • Twelve Times:  δωδεκάκις
  • Thirteen Times:  τρισκαιδεκάκις
  • Fourteen Times:  τετταρακαιδεκάκις
  • Twenty Times:  εἰκοσάκις
  • Hundred Times:  ἑκατοντάκις
  • Thousand Times:  χιλιάκις
  • Ten Thousand Times:  μυριάκις

Numerals

Although modern Greeks use the same Arabic numerals we do (i.e., "1, 2, 3 ..."), the Greeks in the koine period used a system based on the Greek alphabet, which was the Ionic system. However, it used characters from the more ancient alphabet, as well as the 24 charcters used in the koine Greek alphabet: the stigma Ϛ = 6 (or else the digamma, which is sometimes called a vau, Ϝ = 6); the koppa Ϙ = 90; and the sampi Ϡ = 900. Before the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, another system (Attic system) of numerals was mostly used, but the following system would have been employed during the time of the apostles:

Character Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ϛ Ζ Η Θ
Value 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Character Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ϙ
Value 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

Character Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω Ϡ
Value 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900

Therefore, when you see the books in the GNT titled ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Α, ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Β and ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Γ, those titles mean "John 1," "John 2" and "John 3."

The numbers 1,000 to 9,000 used the characters for the numbers 1 to 9, but added tick (an iota) as ether superscript or subscript.

Character ιΑ ιΒ ιΓ ιΔ ιΕ ιϚ ιΖ ιΗ ιΘ
Value 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000

Character ιΑ ιΒ ιΓ ιΔ ιΕ ιϚ ιΖ ιΗ ιΘ
Value 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000

When a number greater than 9,000 was required, the Greeks expressed it as a multiple of 10,000. The multiplier 10,000 seems to have been represented by another obsolete Greek character, the san (Ϻ = 10,000). (Note: For those who do not have computers which display the Unicode Greek san character, the upper-case san looks like the upper-case Mu, except the "v" in the middle only goes down half way, not all the way to the bottom line, like it does with the mu.) When another character from the Greek alphabet was written above the san (or sometimes in front of it), this would indicate that the raised number (or preceding number) was the multiplicand, which was to be multiplied by 10,000. Therefore, if I understand this system correctly, the following numbers would be indicated by this system:

Char. Α
Ϻ
Β
Ϻ
Γ
Ϻ
Δ
Ϻ
Ε
Ϻ
Ϛ
Ϻ
Ζ
Ϻ
Η
Ϻ
Θ
Ϻ
Value 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 80,000 90,000

Char. Ι
Ϻ
Κ
Ϻ
Λ
Ϻ
Μ
Ϻ
Ν
Ϻ
Ξ
Ϻ
Ο
Ϻ
Π
Ϻ
Ϙ
Ϻ
Value 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 500,000 600,000 700,000 800,000 900,000

Char. Ρ
Ϻ
Σ
Ϻ
Τ
Ϻ
Υ
Ϻ
Φ
Ϻ
Χ
Ϻ
Ψ
Ϻ
Ω
Ϻ
Ϡ
Ϻ
Value 1,000,000 2,000,000 3,000,000 4,000,000 5,000,000 6,000,000 7,000,000 8,000,000 9,000,000

Numbers greater than 10, which were not mutiples of 10, were written as combinations of the above. For example, the numbers from 11 to 19 were:

Characters ΙΑ ΙΒ ΙΓ ΙΔ ΙΕ ΙϚ ΙΖ ΙΗ ΙΘ
Value 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Some other sample numbers would be:

Characters ΚΔ ΟΒ ΡΜΔ ΧΞϚ ΙΔϺιΔ ιΖΡΟΕϺιΕΩΟΕ
Value 24 72 144 666 144,000 71,755,875

The last number in the above table (71,755,875) was duplicated from the website document "http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/HistTopics/Greek_numbers.html" and is attributed to an ancient Greek by the name of Aristarchus.



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