Polish language series: Rdz 4, Kain i Abel

In this post, you will study the Polish text of the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis. Rdz 4 describes Cain’s killing of his brother Abel, as well as potomkowie Kaina (the descendants of Cain) and Set i jego potomstwo (Seth and his offspring). Potomkowie is the plural of the masculine noun potomek, meaning descendant. As for the neuter noun potomstwo (offspring, progeny), you first encountered it in the previous chapter.

If you are arriving on this site for the first time, begin your study of the Polish language here (Rdz 1). In your study of Polish, you will use the Biblia Tysiąclecia as your source text. You can read the text of this Bible entirely online.

Before you begin your study of Rdz 4, you must access the verses on biblia.deon.pl below:

Consult text only

Consult text and audio

Should the above links ever become unavailable, you will find an archived version of the text here.

Werset 1

  • zbliżyć (pf.) się, to draw near
  • począć (pf.), to conceive
  • urodzić (pf.), to bear
  • otrzymać (pf.), to receive, to get

In this first verse of chapter 4, you read that the man had carnal relations with his wife Eve. In English, the verb to know is used euphemistically to refer to this act; the Polish, on the other hand, does the same with zbliżyć się, meaning to draw near. You read: mężczyzna zbliżył się do swej żony Ewy (the man knew his wife Eve; literally, the man drew near to his wife Eve). Note the use of do here, followed by the genitive, with even the name Ewa in this position, as Ewy.

Eve conceived: ona poczęła, and she bore Cain: urodziła Kaina. Cain’s name in Polish is Kain. Eve says: otrzymałam mężczyznę od Pana (I got a man from the Lord). Using the perfective verb otrzymać, review the following verb endings (masculine forms first, followed by the feminine):

otrzymałem (I got)
otrzymałeś (you got)
otrzymał (he got)

otrzymałam (I got)
otrzymałaś (you got)
otrzymała (she got)

The noun początek, which you will remember from the expression na początku (in the beginning) from Rdz 1:1, is related to the perfective verb począć.

Werset 2

  • brat (m.), brother
  • pasterz (m.), shepherd
  • trzoda (f.), herd

Eve gives birth to a second son: Abel. Note the accusative forms taken by the names Kain and Abel in this and the previous verse: urodziła Kaina (she bore Cain), urodziła Abla (she bore Abel).

You will recall from Rdz 2:15 that the imperfective verb uprawiać means to till. From Rdz 3:18, you will also recall the feminine noun rola meaning soil, arable land.

Abel was a shepherd: Abel był pasterzem trzód (literally, Abel was a pastor* of herds), whereas Cain worked the ground: Kain uprawiał rolę (Cain was tilling the soil). Pasterzem is in instrumental form.

*pastor in the sense of shepherd

Wersety 3-5

  • niejaki, some
  • czas (m.), time
  • składać (impf.), to gather
  • ofiara (f.), offering
  • również, also
  • pierwociny (pl.), firstlings
  • tłuszcz (m.), fat
  • wejrzeć (pf.), to look, to regard
  • chcieć (impf.), to want
  • patrzeć (impf.), to look, to regard
  • smucić (impf.), to sadden
  • chodzić (impf.), to walk about
  • ponury, downcast, dreary
  • twarz (f.), face

In verse 3, po niejakim czasie is to be understood as after some time. You will recall from Rdz 3:18 that the plural płody means produce, in the sense of agricultural products. Roli is the genitive form of the feminine noun rola; you also encountered this noun in verse 2. You read, in verse 3, that Cain made an offering to God of the produce of the soil that he had tilled.

In verses 4 and 5, you read that Abel made an offering to God of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof; God regarded Abel’s offering, but Cain’s he did not. You read about the effect that this had on Cain: smuciło to Kaina bardzo (this was saddening Cain greatly) and chodził z ponurą twarzą (he was walking about with a downcast face).

Wersety 6-7

  • smutny, sad
  • gdyby, if
  • postępować (impf.), to act, to behave
  • pogodny, cheerful
  • jeżeli, if
  • grzech (m.), sin
  • leżeć (impf.), to lie
  • u (+ gen.), at
  • wrota (pl.), gate
  • czyhać (impf.), to lie in wait

You first saw the perfective verb zapytać (to ask) in Rdz 3:9. In verse 6, God asks Cain: dlaczego jesteś smutny? (why are you sad?). He also asks: dlaczego twarz twoja jest ponura? (why is your face downcast?).

Przecież (yet, though), from verse 7, was first encountered in Rdz 3:18. Gdybyś is the second-person singular form of gdyby; it means if you. Gdybyś postępował dobrze can be understood as if you were acting well. If Cain had done well, God says, then he would have a happy disposition: miałbyś twarz pogodną (you would have a cheerful face). Miałbyś (you would have), from the imperfective verb mieć (to have), is the masculine second-person singular of the conditional.

Będziesz postępował is the masculine second-person singular of the future tense. Nie będziesz dobrze postępował can be understood literally as you will not be acting well.

You then read: grzech leży u wrót i czyha na ciebie, which you will understand as meaning sin lies at the gate and lies in wait for you. In u wrót (at the gate), you find wrota in genitive position.

Nad nim is to be understood as over him, where nim is in instrumental form.

Werset 8

  • pole (n.), field
  • rzucić (pf.) się, to throw oneself
  • zabić (pf.), to kill

You first encountered the imperfective verb chodzić in verse 5. Cain says to Abel: chodźmy na pole (let us walk into the field). Chodźmy is the first-person plural imperative form. Compare this form to uczyńmy (let us make), encountered in Rdz 1:26.

The text continues: a gdy byli na polu (and when they were in the field). Consider the forms na pole and na polu: in the first, you find the accusative following na, whereas you find the locative in the second. The first conveys movement; the second conveys location.

Consider also the following:

a gdy był na polu
a gdy byli na polu

This eighth verse ends with: Kain rzucił się na swego brata Abla (Cain threw himself at [into] his brother) i zabił go (and killed him).

Werset 9

  • czyż = czy
  • stróż (m.), keeper, guardian

You first encountered the imperfective verb wiedzieć in Rdz 3:5, when you read wie Bóg (God knows). In the current verse now, you find nie wiem (I do not know), which is how Cain responds when asked by God where Abel is. Cain then adds: czyż jestem stróżem brata mego (am I the keeper of my brother)? Stróżem is in instrumental form. The genitive mego is a variant of mojego. You can consult the declension of Polish possessive pronouns here.

Wersety 10-12

  • cóż, what, whatever
  • krew (f.), blood
  • głośno, aloud, noisily
  • wołać (impf.), to call out
  • ku (+ dat.), towards, unto
  • rozewrzeć (pf.), to open
  • paszcza (f.), mouth, muzzle
  • wchłonąć (pf.), to soak up, to absorb
  • przelać (pf.), to shed
  • przez (+ acc.), through
  • już, anymore
  • więcej, more
  • plon (m.), yield, crop
  • tułacz (m.), wanderer
  • zbieg (m.), fugitive

In verse 10, God asks Cain what he has done. He says: cóżeś uczynił? He then says that Abel’s blood calls from the earth: krew brata twego głośno woła ku mnie z ziemi. Ku mnie is to be understood as unto me.

Learn the present tense conjugation of the imperfective verb wołać, paying attention to the endings:

wołam (I call; am calling)
wołasz (you call; are calling)
woła (he, she, it calls; is calling)
wołamy (we call; are calling)
wołacie (you call; are calling)
wołają (they call; are calling)

Usages to review from verses 11 and 12 include: więc (therefore), teraz (now), przeklęty (cursed, damned), dać (pf., to give).

Bądź przeklęty means be cursed or be damned, where bądź is the second-person singular imperative. You first encountered this wording in Rdz 3:14, when God cursed the snake. In the phrase na tej roli (in this soil), tej is the locative form of ta. Observe the following:

ten samochód (m., this car)
ta rola (f., this soil)
to pole (n., this field)

Still in verse 11, you read that the ground opened its mouth: rozwarła swą paszczę. The accusative swą is a variant of swoją, also accusative. Przelaną przez ciebie is to be understood as being shed on account of you.

In verse 12, the future tense będziesz uprawiał means you will be tilling. Note the accusative form of ta, which is tę. You read: gdy rolę tę będziesz uprawiał (when you will be tilling this soil). Farther along in the verse, ci is the dative form of ty. You read: nie da ci już ona (it will not give to you anymore). Ona stands in for the feminine rola.

At this point, it would be useful to review some of the future tense forms of imperfective verbs that you have encountered, observing their formation:

będziesz uprawiał (you will be tilling)
będziesz jadł
(you will be eating)
będziesz rodziła
(you will be bearing)
będzie panował (he will be ruling)
będzie rodziła
(she will be bearing)
będziecie znali (you [pl.] will be knowing)

In the final sentence of verse 12, God tells Cain that he will be a wanderer and fugitive on the earth. Note the use of the instrumental forms tułaczem and zbiegiem. The instrumental conveys the sense of as; a literal translation of tułaczem i zbiegiem będziesz is as a wanderer and as a fugitive shall you be.

Wersety 13-14

  • zbyt, too
  • kara (f.), punishment
  • znieść (pf.), to bear, to withstand
  • skoro, since, seeing that
  • wypędzać (impf.), to banish
  • ukrywać (impf.) się, to hide oneself
  • kto, who
  • spotkać (pf.), to come across

Cain says that his punishment is too great; you will perhaps remember having first encountered wielki (large, great) in Rdz 1:16. You read: zbyt wielka jest kara moja (too great is my punishment). Cain continues: abym mógł ją znieść (in order for me to bear it, in order that I may bear it). In abym mógł, you are dealing with the imperfective verb móc (to be able, may). The accusative stands in for the feminine kara.

Compare the following, all of which you have already encountered, paying attention to their formation:

abym mógł
aby rządziło
aby rządziły
aby świeciły
abyście zapełniały
abyście nie pomarli

In verse 14, you find a number of examples of the accusative mnie (from the nominative ja). Wypędzasz is the second-person singular of the present tense: you banish. You find the imperfective verb mieć used in the sense of must, to have to; mam się ukrywać przed tobą is to be understood as I have to hide myself before you (that is, from you). You will recall that przed (before, in front of) is followed by the instrumental.

mam się ukrywać
I have to hide myself

mam być tułaczem
I have to be (as) a wanderer

Verse 14 ends: każdy, kto mnie spotka (all who will come across me), będzie mógł mnie zabić (will have to kill me; that is, will kill me). You first encountered the perfective verb zabić in verse 8. As for każdy, you first encountered it in Rdz 2:19.

Wersety 15-16

  • ktokolwiek, anybody, whosoever
  • by, should, would
  • siedmiokrotny, sevenfold
  • pomsta (f.), revenge
  • ponieść (pf.), to suffer
  • też, also
  • znamię (n.), mark
  • odejść (pf.), to leave, to depart
  • zamieszkać (pf.), to settle

Mu, in verse 15, is the dative form of on: ale Pan mu powiedział (but the Lord said to him). God says that whoever kills Cain shall suffer a revenge seven times as great: ktokolwiek by zabił Kaina (whosoever should kill Cain) siedmiokrotną pomstę poniesie (a sevenfold revenge shall he suffer). Poniesie is the third-person singular.

In dał też Pan znamię Kainowi (the Lord also gave a mark to Cain; that is, the Lord put a mark on Cain), notice the use of the dative Kainowi. The remainder of verse 15 contains language that you have already encountered: aby go nie zabił (in order that he not kill him), ktokolwiek go spotka (whosoever will come across him).

In verse 16, you read that Cain left God and settled in the land of Nod, to the east of Eden. Usages to review from this verse include: po czym (thereupon), kraj (m., country, land), wschód (m., east), na wschód od (to the east of). Kain odszedł od Pana means Cain departed from the Lord.

Wersety 17-19

  • zbudować (pf.), to build, to erect
  • miasto (n.), city
  • syn (m.), son

Verse 17 contains a good deal of usages already encountered. The entire first sentence repeats language seen in verse 1. Note the accusative Henocha, from the name Henoch. In the second sentence of verse 17, you read that Cain built a city: zbudował miasto. He named it after his son Enoch: nazwał je imieniem swego syna (he named it after his son; literally, he called it as the name of his son). You will recall that the neuter imię means name; you find it here as imieniem, in instrumental position. Swego syna is in the genitive.

In verse 18, you find the masculine ojciec (father) in instrumental form, as ojcem. Henoch był ojcem Irada (Enoch was the father of Irad). In the remainder of the verse, był is not repeated but is understood: Irad (był) ojcem Mechujaela. The final part of the verse is to be understood as Metuszael zaś (był ojcem) Lameka.

In Rdz 2:15, you first encountered the perfective verb wziąć, meaning to take. Now, in verse 19, you read: Lamek wziął sobie dwie żony (Lamek took unto himself two wives). Sobie is in dative form; dwie żony is in the accusative.

Werset 20

  • praojciec (m.), forefather
  • mieszkać (impf.), to live
  • namiot (m.), tent

Mieszkający means living; its genitive plural form is mieszkających. Of Jabal, you read: on to był praojcem (he was the forefather) mieszkających (of those living) pod namiotami (under tents) i pasterzy (and of shepherds).

You have seen pod (under) before; it is followed by the instrumental.

pod sklepieniem (under the firmament)
pod namiotem (under the tent)
pod namiotami (under the tents)

You first encountered pasterz (shepherd) in verse 2. You find it in genitive plural position in the current verse.

Werset 21

  • pochodzić (impf.), to descend
  • wszyscy, all
  • grać (impf.), to play (instrument)
  • cytra (f.), kithara
  • flet (m.), flute

Brat jego means his brother.

Grać na cytrze means to play the kithara; grać na flecie means to play the flute. This expression uses na, followed by the locative. Similarly: grać na gitarze (to play the guitar), where the Polish for guitar is the feminine gitara.

The second half of this verse is to be understood as follows: od niego to pochodzą (from him descend) wszyscy grający na cytrze i na flecie (all those playing the kithara and the flute). Pochodzą is in the third-person plural.

Werset 22

  • kowal (m.), blacksmith
  • sporządzać (impf.), to make
  • narzędzie (n.), tool
  • brąz (m.), bronze
  • żelazo (n.), iron
  • siostra (f.), sister

Just as Kain becomes Kaina in the accusative, Tubal-Kain becomes Tubal-Kaina. You read that Tubalcain was a blacksmith: był on kowalem (he was a blacksmith), sporządzającym wszelkie narzędzia z brązu i z żelaza (making every tool of bronze and iron). In the same way that kowalem is in instrumental form, so too is sporządzającym, from sporządzający (making).

Werset 23

  • słuchać (impf.) to listen
  • nastawić (pf.), to direct
  • ucho (n.), ear
  • gotów, likely, willing
  • dorosły, adult
  • jeśli, if
  • zranić (pf.), to wound
  • siniec (m.), bruise

You have encountered the phrase do swej żony (unto his wife) before; now, in the current verse, you find the plural equivalent do swych żon (unto his wives). Do is followed by the genitive in both. Reminder: you can consult the declension of Polish possessive pronouns here. Ady and Silli are also in genitive form.

Słuchajcie is the second-person plural imperative form. You read: słuchajcie, co wam powiem (listen to what I shall say to you), żony Lameka (wives of Lamech). You will recall that the perfective verb  powiedzieć means to say, to tell, first encountered in Rdz 2:23. Wam is the dative form of wy.

You find another second-person plural imperative in nastawcie. You read: nastawcie ucha na moje słowa (direct your ears unto my words; that is, listen to what I shall say). You first encountered the neuter słowo (word) in Rdz 1:22.

From the remainder of the verse:

The perfective verb zabić, first seen in verse 8, means to kill. Człowieka dorosłego is in accusative form. You first encountered the neuter dziecko in Rdz 3:16. You will recall that the perfective verb zrobić means to make, to do.

Werset 24

  • pomścić (pf.), to avenge
  • raz (m.), time

In verse 15, you encountered siedmiokrotny, meaning sevenfold. You now find, in the current verse, its adverbial form siedmiokrotnie. The Polish for seventy-seven is siedemdziesiąt siedem. (You can study Polish cardinal numbers by following the link. You will also be looking at many Polish numbers in Rdz 5.) This verse is to be understood as if Cain shall have to be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-seven times.

Wersety 25-26

  • gdyż, because, for
  • inny, another
  • w zamian za (+ acc.), in place of
  • potomek (m.), descendant
  • zacząć (pf.), to start, to begin
  • wzywać (impf.), to call upon

In verse 25, you read that Adam knew his wife again: Adam raz jeszcze zbliżył się do swej żony. She bore him a son: ta urodziła mu syna (she bore a son unto him), to whom she gave the name Seth: któremu dała imię Set.

Eve says: gdyż dał mi Bóg (for God gave me) potomka innego (another descendant) w zamian za Abla (in place of Abel), którego zabił Kain (whom Cain killed).

In verse 26, Setowi (unto Seth) is the dative form of Set. Take note of the reflexive use in this verse. Whereas urodziła syna means she bore a son, urodził się syn means a son was born. In the remainder of the verse, you read that Seth named his son Enosz, and that one began to call upon the name of the Lord. Zaczęto is the impersonal past.