Here is a small passage from my Japanese Bible, where a king is summoning his servants.

さて、彼は...帰って来ると、...[僕]{しもべ}を呼んで来させ、...。 最初の者が...。二番目の者が来て...

Why is it referring to the second servant as 二番目の者 instead of the more intuitive (at least to me) 二人目? Is this derogatory somehow, or is it essentially relating [僕]{しもべ} to a 番人, and 番人 are simply counted with ~番?

Are there other acceptable times to count people this way?

  • 2
    Doesn't “二番目” simply mean “the second”? Or do you mean to ask “二つ目” (this second object)?
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 21:24
  • Here is a related article that might be useful: related article Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


I think 「二番目」 just means "second" as "second in order" which is not really a counter of people but a way of expressing order, including order of people. The king first calls a servant and then calls the second (in order servant).

Quickly looking in the internet, I found some other examples of applying 「二番目」 to people:

二番目の女から本命彼女になる方法 (link)

二番目の男でもいい、と告白されました。 (link)


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