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).

Read Rdz 4

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 4. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Werset 1

  • zbliżyć (pf.) się, to come unto, 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, to come unto. You read: mężczyzna zbliżył się do swej żony Ewy (the man drew near to his wife Eve; the man came unto his wife Eve; that is, the man knew his wife Eve). Following do, not only do you find the genitive in swej żony, but you also find it in Eve’s Polish name (Ewa), which becomes Ewy in the genitive.

Eve conceived: ona poczęła (she conceived), and she bore Cain: urodziła Kaina (she bore Cain). Cain’s name in Polish is Kain; it becomes Kaina in the accusative. Eve says: otrzymałam mężczyznę od Pana (I got a man from the Lord). Using the perfective verb otrzymać, review the following verb endings of the past tense:

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; his name is Abel. In the accusative, Abel becomes Abla.

Kain, Cain
urodziła Kaina
she bore Cain

Abel, Abel
urodziła Abla
she bore Abel

In the text of the verse, you read: a potem urodziła jeszcze Abla (and then she bore yet Abel), jego brata (his brother). Not only is the name Abel in the accusative as Abla, but so too is brat (brother) as brata; both Abel and brat are the same person.

Abel, Abel
urodziła Abla
she bore Abel

brat, brother
urodziła jego brata
she bore his brother

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.

trzoda, herd
pasterz trzód (pastor* of herds)
Abel był pasterzem trzód
Abel was a pastor* of herds
(that is, Abel was a shepherd)

rola, soil
Kain uprawiał rolę
Cain was tilling the soil
Cain used to till the soil

* pastor in the sense of shepherd

Wersety 3-5

  • niejaki, some, a certain
  • 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, after a certain time. You will recall from Rdz 3:18 that the plural płody means produce, in the sense of agricultural products, fruits of the land. You read: gdy po niejakim czasie (when, after some time) Kain składał (Cain was gathering) dla Pana (for the Lord) w ofierze (in the offering) płody roli (produce of the soil).

Then, in verse 4, of Abel you read: zaś Abel składał również (whereas Abel was also gathering) pierwociny ze swej trzody (the firstlings of his herds) i z ich tłuszczu (and of their fat), Pan wejrzał na Abla i na jego ofiarę (the Lord looked upon Abel and upon his offering). In other words, the Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering. He did not pay heed to Cain or his offering, however. In verse 5, you read: na Kaina zaś (whereas upon Cain) i na jego ofiarę (and upon his offering) nie chciał patrzeć (he did not want to look; he refused to look; that is, he refused to pay heed).

You read about the effect that this had on Cain: smuciło to Kaina bardzo (this was saddening Cain greatly) i chodził z ponurą twarzą (and he was walking about with a downcast face).

ponura twarz
downcast face

z ponurą twarzą
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 can be understood as meaning after all in verse 7. As for gdybyś (if you), this is the second-person singular form of gdyby (if). Przecież gdybyś postępował dobrze can be understood as after all, if you were acting well. If Cain had acted 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 imperfective future. You read: jeżeli zaś nie będziesz dobrze postępował (if however you will not be acting well; if however you will not act well).

The verse continues: grzech leży u wrót (sin lies at the gate) i czyha na ciebie (and lies in wait for you). In u wrót (at the gate), you find wrota (gate) in genitive position as wrót.

From the remainder of the verse, nad nim is to be understood as over him, where nim is in instrumental form following nad. Recall that the imperfective verb panować means to rule. You read: a przecież ty masz nad nim panować (although you must rule over him; although you shall rule over him). The imperfective verb mieć (to have) followed by an infinitive can be be understood as to have to, must. Masz (you have) is the second-person singular of the present tense of mieć. Mieć panować can be understood as must rule, to have to rule, shall rule.

Werset 8

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

This verse begins: rzekł Kain do Abla (Cain said to Abel), brata swego (his brother). Not only is Abel in the genitive after do as Abla, so too is brat swój in the genitive as brata swego; both Abel and brat swój are the same person.

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. Compare chodźmy (let us walk) with 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 two 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, with the accusative, conveys movement: na pole, into the field. The second, with the locative, conveys location: na polu, in the field.

Consider also the following:

a gdy był na polu
when he was in the field

a gdy byli na polu
when they were in the field

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

Werset 9

  • czyż, emphatic form of 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. You can consult the declension of Polish possessive pronouns here, such as mój, found in this verse as the genitive mego (and which is more commonly expressed as mojego).

Wersety 10-12

  • cóż, what, whatever
  • krew (f.), blood
  • głośno, loudly, in a loud voice
  • 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.), by
  • nie… już, no more, not 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? (what ever have you done?). Cóż means what (ever); cóżeś is its second-person singular form. Note that uczynił is not marked with the second-person singular ending here (uczyniłeś) because this ending is contained in cóżeś.

God then says that Abel’s blood calls from the earth: krew brata twego (the blood of your brother) głośno woła (calls out loudly) ku mnie (unto me) z ziemi (from the earth).

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: która rozwarła swą paszczę (which opened its mouth). The accusative swą is a variant of swoją, also accusative. You then read: aby wchłonąć krew brata twego (in order to soak up the blood of your brother).

Przelany (shed) is formed from the perfective verb przelać (to shed). Because krew is a feminine noun, przelany becomes przelana to agree with it; in the accusative, przelana becomes przelaną. You read: aby wchłonąć krew brata twego (in order to soak up the blood of your brother), przelaną przez ciebie (shed by you). Both krew and przelaną are accusative forms; krew is the same in the nominative and accusative.

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 this soil you will be tilling; that is, when you will till this soil). Farther along in the verse, ci (unto you) is the dative form of ty (you). You read: nie da ci już ona (it will no longer give you) więcej plonu (more crop; more yield). Ona stands in for the feminine rola.

At this point, it would be useful to review some of the imperfective future forms 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. You read: tułaczem ([as] a wanderer) i zbiegiem (and [as] a fugitive) będziesz (shall you be) na ziemi (on the earth).

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 that I be able to bear it). In abym mógł, you are dealing with the imperfective verb móc (to be able, can). The accusative stands in for the feminine kara.

móc, to be able
aby mógł
in order that he be able
abym mógł
in order that I be able

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 (me), from the nominative ja (I). 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
I must hide myself

mam być tułaczem
I have to be a wanderer
I must be a wanderer

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

Understand verse 14 as follows: skoro mnie teraz wypędzasz (seeing as you now banish me) z tej roli (from this soil), i mam się ukrywać przed tobą (and I must hide myself from you), i być tułaczem i zbiegiem na ziemi (and be a wanderer and fugitive on the earth), każdy, kto mnie spotka (whoever will come across me; all who will come across me), będzie mógł mnie zabić (will be able to kill me).

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 (unto him) in verse 15, is the dative form of on (he): ale Pan mu powiedział (but the Lord said unto 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 of the perfective future.

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 (unto Cain). 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, after which), kraj (m., country, land), wschód (m., east), na wschód od (to the east of). You read: po czym Kain odszedł od Pana (thereupon Cain departed from the Lord) i zamieszkał w kraju Nod (and settled in the land of Nod), na wschód od Edenu (to the east of Eden).

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 called it by the name of his son). You will recall that the neuter imię means name; you find it here as imieniem (by the name) in instrumental position. Swego syna is in genitive form.

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

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. The verse ends: imię jednej (the name of one) było Ada (was Adah), a drugiej — Silla (and of the second [was] Zillah). Jednej is the genitive of the feminine jedna (one [woman]); drugiej is the genitive of the feminine druga (second [woman]). Note the neuter o ending of the verb to agree with the neuter noun imię: imię było (the name was).

Werset 20

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

This verse begins: Ada urodziła Jabala (Adah bore Jabal).

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

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

The verse begins: brat jego (his brother) nazywał się Jubal (was called Jubal).

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 of the present tense of the imperfective pochodzić.

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 all tools of bronze and of iron). In the same way that kowalem is in instrumental form, so too is sporządzającym, from sporządzający (making).

The verse ends: siostrą Tubal-Kaina (the sister of Tubalcain) była Naama (was Naamah). Note that siostra is in instrumental position here as siostrą. You have now seen a number of examples of the instrumental applied to a noun when used in conjunction with the verb być.

Werset 23

  • słuchać (impf.) to listen
  • nastawić (pf.), to direct
  • ucho (n.), ear
  • gotów, prepared, ready
  • 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 the genitive (their nominative forms are Ada and Silla).

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 (unto you) is the dative form of wy (you).

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. You read: gotów jestem (I am prepared) zabić człowieka dorosłego (to kill an adult man), jeśli on mnie zrani (if he will wound me), i dziecko (and a child)jeśli mi zrobi siniec (if he will make unto me a bruise; that is, if he bruises me).

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.)

Pomszczony (avenged) is formed from the perfective verb pomścić (to avenge).

This verse is to be understood as follows: jeżeli Kain miał być pomszczony siedmiokrotnie (if Cain was to be avenged sevenfold), to Lamek siedemdziesiąt siedem razy (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 (Adam yet again; Adam once more) zbliżył się do swej żony (came unto his wife). She bore him a son: ta urodziła mu syna (this one bore unto him a son), whom she named Seth: któremu dała imię Set (unto whom she gave the name Seth).

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

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. You read: Setowi również urodził się syn (unto Seth also was born a son; that is, a son was also born unto Seth).

You read that Seth named his son Enos (Enosz, in its Polish form): Set dał mu imię Enosz (Seth gave to him the name Enos). You also read that one began to call upon the name of the Lord: wtedy zaczęto wzywać imienia Pana (then one began to call upon the name of the Lord). Zaczęto is the impersonal past; zaczęto wzywać can be understood as meaning one began to call upon.