Polish language series: Rdz 4, Kain i Abel

In the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis, Cain kills his brother Abel. Other subjects include: potomkowie Kaina (the descendants of Cain); Set i jego potomstwo (Seth and his offspring). Potomkowie is the plural of the masculine noun potomek, meaning descendant. The neuter potomstwo means offspring, progeny.

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Read Rdz 4

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Werset 1

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

Review: mężczyzna (m., man), żona (f., wife), Pan (m., Lord).

The man has carnal relations with his wife Eve. In English, the verb to know is traditionally used to refer to this act; the Polish, on the other hand, does the same with zbliżyć się, meaning to draw near, to approach. Mężczyzna zbliżył się do swej żony Ewy: the man drew near to his wife Eve; that is, they had carnal relations. Following do, not only do you find the genitive in swej żony, but you also find it in the Polish version of Eve’s name: Ewa. Eva becomes Ewy in the genitive.

Eve conceives and bears Cain: a ona poczęła (and she conceived) i urodziła Kaina (and bore Cain). The Polish version of Cain’s name is Kain, which 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: masculine, otrzymałem (I got); otrzymałeś (you got); otrzymał (he got); feminine, otrzymałam (I got); otrzymałaś (you got); otrzymała (she got).

Werset 2

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

Review: potem (then), urodzić (pf., to bear), jescze (yet, still), uprawiać (impf., to till), rola (f., soil).

Eve gives birth to a second son: Abel. In the accusative, Abel becomes Abla. Observe: Kain; urodziła Kaina (Cain; she bore Cain); Abel; urodziła Abla (Abel; she bore Abel).

A potem urodziła jeszcze Abla, jego brata: and then she bore yet Abel, 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. Observe: Abel; urodziła Abla (Abel; she bore Abel); brat; urodziła jego brata (brother; she bore his brother).

Abel was a shepherd: Abel był pasterzem trzód (literally, Abel was a pastor* of flocks), whereas Cain worked the ground: Kain uprawiał rolę (Cain tilled [was tilling, used to till] the soil). Observe the following: trzoda (flock); pasterz trzód (pastor* of flocks); Abel był pasterzem trzód (Abel was a pastor* of flocks; that is, Abel was a shepherd). *Pastor in the older sense of shepherd. Pasterzem is in instrumental form.

Because uprawiać is an imperfective verb, it conveys the ongoing nature of an action; uprawiał: he was tilling, he used to till.

Wersety 3-5

  • niejaki, some, a certain
  • czas (m.), time
  • składać (impf.), to put forth
  • ofiara (f.), offering, sacrifice
  • 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 go (walk) about
  • ponury, downcast, dreary
  • twarz (f.), face

Review: płody (pl., fruits of the land), trzoda (f., flock).

Verse 3: Po niejakim czasie is to be understood as after some time, after a certain amount time. Gdy po niejakim czasie (when, after some time) Kain składał (Cain put forth [was putting forth]) dla Pana (to [for] the Lord) w ofierze (in the offering) płody roli (the fruits of the land [the produce of the soil]). Składać w ofierze is to be taken as meaning to offer up; literally, to put forth in the offering.

Verse 4: Zaś Abel składał również (whilst Abel also put forth [was putting forth]) pierwociny ze swej trzody (the firstlings of his flocks) 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).

Verse 5: Na Kaina zaś (whereas upon Cain) i na jego ofiarę (and upon his offering) nie chciał patrzeć (he would not look [was not wanting to look]). In other words, the Lord paid heed to Abel, but not to Cain. The text continues: smuciło to Kaina bardzo (this saddened [was saddening] Cain greatly) i chodził z ponurą twarzą (and he went about [was going about] with a downcast face). Consider: ponura twarz (downcast face); z ponurą twarzą (with a downcast face).

Wersety 6-7

  • smutny, sad
  • przecież, after all, yet
  • 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

Review: zapytać (pf., to ask), dlaczego (why, for what reason), twarz (f., face), ponury (downcast, dreary), dobrze (well, right), panować (impf., to rule).

Verse 6: Pan zapytał Kaina: the Lord asked Cain. He asks: dlaczego jesteś smutny (why are you sad) i dlaczego twarz twoja jest ponura? (and why is your face downcast?).

Verse 7: Gdybyś means if you; at its root is gdyby (if), to which the second-person singular marker has been attached. The Lord says to Cain: przecież gdybyś postępował dobrze (after all, if you were acting right) 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. As for będziesz postępował, this is the masculine, second-person singular of the imperfective future: jeżeli zaś nie będziesz dobrze postępował (if, however, you are not acting [will not be acting] right) 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. In 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, and panować nad means to rule over. You read: a przecież ty masz nad nim panować (and yet you are to rule over him). The imperfective verb mieć (to have) followed by an infinitive functions like the English to have to, but can also take on the sense of shall, to be to. Masz (you have) is the second-person singular of the present tense of mieć.

Werset 8

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

Review: brat (m., brother), chodzić (impf., to go, to walk).

Rzekł Kain do Abla, brata swego: Cain said to Abel, 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 the fifth verse. Cain says to Abel: chodźmy na pole (let us go into the field). Chodźmy is the first-person plural imperative.

The text of this verse 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).

Cain kills his brother: 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

Review: wtedy (then), zapytać (pf., to ask), gdzie (where), brat (m., brother), odpowiedzieć (pf., to respond), wiedzieć (impf., to know).

You first encountered the imperfective verb wiedzieć in Rdz 3:5, where you encountered wie Bóg (God knows). In the current verse, you now find nie wiem (I do not know), which is how Cain responds when asked by God where Abel is:

Gdzie jest brat twój, Abel?
Where is your brother, Abel?

Nie wiem.
I do not know.

Cain adds: czyż jestem stróżem brata mego? (am I the keeper of my brother?). Stróżem is in instrumental form. Consult: Declension of Polish possessive pronouns (such as mój, found in this verse as the genitive mego [and more commonly expressed as mojego]).

Wersety 10-12

  • cóż, what, what ever
  • 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 więcej, no more
  • plon (m.), yield, crop
  • tułacz (m.), wanderer
  • zbieg (m.), fugitive

Review: brat (m., brother), ziemia (f., earth, ground), więc (so, therefore), teraz (now), przeklęty (cursed, damned), rola (f., soil), uprawiać (impf., to till), dać (pf., to give).

Verse 10: Cóżeś uczynił?: what ever have you done?; cóż means what (ever), and cóżeś is its second-person singular form. Uczynił is not marked with the second-person singular ending as uczyniłeś — the second-person singular marker is contained instead in cóżeś. Abel’s blood calls out to God: krew brata twego (the blood of your brother) głośno woła (calls out loudly) ku mnie (unto me) z ziemi (from the ground). 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).

Verse 11: 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. Bądź więc teraz przeklęty na tej roli: be now cursed therefore in this soil. In na tej roli (in this soil), tej is the locative form of ta. Która rozwarła swą paszczę: which opened its mouth. The accusative swą is a variant of swoją, also accusative. 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. Aby wchłonąć krew brata twego, przelaną przez ciebie (in order to soak up the blood of your brother, shed by you). Both krew and przelaną are accusative forms; krew is the same in both the nominative and accusative.

Verse 12: The future 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 till this soil [when this soil you will be tilling]). Ci (unto you) is the dative form of ty (you): nie da ci już ona więcej plonu (unto you it shall no longer yield any crop). Ona stands in for the feminine rola. God tells Cain that he is to be a wanderer and fugitive on the earth; note the use of the instrumental forms tułaczem and zbiegiem: tułaczem i zbiegiem (as a wanderer and as a fugitive) będziesz na ziemi (shall you be on the earth). 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).

Wersety 13-14

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

Review: wielki (great, large), teraz (now), rola (f., soil), przed (before, in front of), tułacz (m., wanderer), zbieg (m., fugitive), ziemia (f., earth, land), każdy (each, every), zabić (pf., to kill).

Verse 13: Cain says that his punishment is too great: zbyt wielka jest kara moja (too great is my punishment), abym mógł ją znieść (that I may bear it [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. Consider the following: móc (to be able); aby mógł (in order that he be able); abym mógł (in order that I be able). Observe 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.

Verse 14: You find here 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 are banishing. You meet the imperfective verb mieć followed by an infinitive, where it takes on the sense of must, to have to. Recall that przed (before, in front of) is followed by the instrumental. You can understand this verse 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 am to 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 meet me; all who will come across me), będzie mógł mnie zabić (will be able to kill me). Consider the following: mam się ukrywać (I have to hide myself; I must hide myself; I am to hide myself); mam być tułaczem (I have to be a wanderer; I must be a wanderer; I am to be a wanderer).

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

Review: ale (but), powiedzieć (pf., to say), zabić (pf., to kill), dać (pf., to give), spotkać (pf., to meet, to come across), po czym (then, thereupon), kraj (m., country, land), wschód (m., east).

Verse 15: Mu (unto him) is the dative form of on (he): ale Pan mu powiedział (but the Lord said to him). God interjects with o, nie (not so) and says: 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 of the verb ponieść. In dał też Pan znamię Kainowi (the Lord also put a mark on Cain [gave a mark to Cain]), note the use of the dative Kainowi (unto Cain). Aby go nie zabił, ktokolwiek go spotka: in order that whosoever met him not kill him; lest whosoever met him should kill him.

Verse 16: Cain leaves the presence of the Lord and settles in the land of Nod, to the east of Eden. 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, town
  • syn (m.), son

Review: zbliżyć się (pf., to draw near, to approach), żona (f., wife), począć (pf., to conceive), urodzić (pf., to bear), nazwać (pf., to name, to call), imię (n., name), syn (m., son), ojciec (m., father), wziąć (pf., to take), jeden (one), drugi (second, other).

Verse 17: The entire first sentence repeats language met in the first verse of this chapter. Note the accusative Henocha, from the name Henoch. In the second sentence, 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). The neuter imię means name; you find it here as imieniem (by the name) in instrumental position. Swego syna is in genitive form.

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 (Irad was the father of Mehujael), a Mechujael (był) ojcem Metuszaela (and Mehujael was the father of Methusael). The final part of this verse can be taken as follows: Metuszael zaś (był ojcem) Lameka (whereas Methusael was the father of Lamech).

Verse 19: Lamek wziął sobie dwie żony: Lamek took unto himself two wives. Sobie is in dative form; dwie żony is in the accusative. The text of this verse continues: imię jednej (the name of the one) było Ada (was Adah), a drugiejSilla (and of the other {was} Zillah). Jednej is the genitive of the feminine jedna (the one {woman}); drugiej is the genitive of the feminine druga (the other {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

Review: urodzić (pf., to bear), pod (under), pasterz (m., shepherd).

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 [it was he] the forefather) mieszkających (of those living) pod namiotami (under tents) i pasterzy (and of shepherds). Pasterz (shepherd) is in genitive plural position as pasterzy. Pod (under) is followed by the instrumental: pod sklepieniem (under the firmament); pod namiotem (under the tent); pod namiotami (under the tents).

Wersety 21-22

  • nazywać się (impf.), to be called
  • pochodzić (impf.), to descend
  • wszyscy, all
  • grać (impf.), to play (instrument)
  • cytra (f.), kithara
  • flet (m.), flute
  • kowal (m.), blacksmith
  • sporządzać (impf.), to make
  • narzędzie (n.), tool
  • brąz (m.), bronze
  • żelazo (n.), iron
  • siostra (f.), sister

Verse 21: Brat jegonazywał się Jubal: his brother was named Jubal. Grać na cytrze means to play the kithara; grać na flecie means to play the flute. These expressions use na, followed by the locative. (Related: grać na gitarze (to play the guitar), where the Polish for guitar is the feminine gitara.) The text of this verse continues: od niego to pochodzą (it is from him that 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.

Verse 22: Just as Kain becomes Kaina in the accusative, Tubal-Kain becomes Tubal-Kaina. You read that Tubal-Cain 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. Siostrą Tubal-Kaina była Naama: the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. Note that siostra is in instrumental position 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.

Wersety 23-24

  • słuchać (impf.), to listen, to heed
  • nastawić (pf.), to direct
  • ucho (n.), ear
  • gotów, prepared, ready
  • dorosły, adult
  • jeśli, if
  • zranić (pf.), to wound
  • siniec (m.), bruise
  • pomścić (pf.), to avenge
  • siedmiokrotnie, sevenfold
  • raz (m.), time

Review: żona (f., wife), powiedzieć (pf., to say), słowo (n., word), zabić (pf., to kill), człowiek (m., man), jeśli (if), dziecko (n., child), zrobić (pf., to make, to do), jeżeli (if).

Verse 23: You have encountered before do swej żony (unto his wife); in the current verse, you now find its plural equivalent do swych żon (unto his wives). Do is followed by the genitive in both. Consult: Declension of Polish possessive pronouns (such as the genitive swej and swych). Ady and Silli are also in genitive position; their nominative forms are Ada and Silla. Słuchajcie is a second-person plural imperative: słuchajcie, co wam powiem (listen to what I shall say to you; heed that which I shall say to you), żony Lameka (O wives of Lamech). Wam (unto you) is the dative form of wy (you). You find another second-person plural imperative in nastawcie: nastawcie ucha na moje słowa (direct your ears unto my words). From the remainder of the verse: gotów jestem (I am prepared) zabić człowieka dorosłego (to kill an adult man), jeśli on mnie zrani (if he wounds me [will wound me]), i dziecko (and a child)jeśli mi zrobi siniec (if he bruises me [will make unto me a bruise]).

Verse 24: You encountered siedmiokrotny (sevenfold) in verse 15; you now find, in the current verse, its adverbial form siedmiokrotnie. The Polish for seventy-seven is siedemdziesiąt siedem. (Consult: Polish cardinal numbers. You will be looking at many Polish cardinal 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 is to be avenged sevenfold), to Lamek siedemdziesiąt siedem razy (then Lamech seventy-seven times).

Wersety 25-26

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

Review: raz (m., one time), jeszcze (yet), zbliżyć się (pf., to draw near, to approach), żona (f., wife), urodzić (pf., to bear), syn (m., son), dać (pf., to give), imię (n., name), mówić (impf., to say), potomek (m., descendant), zabić (pf., to kill), również (also), urodzić się (pf., to be born), wtedy (then), Pan (m., Lord).

Verse 25: Adam knows his wife again: Adam raz jeszcze (Adam yet again; Adam once more) zbliżył się do swej żony (drew near to his wife). She bore him a son: ta urodziła mu syna (she [this one] bore to him a son), whom she named Seth: któremu dała imię Set (to whom she gave the name Seth). 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). Jak mówiła means as she was saying.

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 (to Seth also was a son born). Seth named his son Enos (Enosz, in its Polish form): Set dał mu imię Enosz (Seth gave him the name Enos). Wtedy zaczęto wzywać imienia Pana: then men began (then one began) to call upon the name of the Lord. Zaczęto is the impersonal past: one began.