Polish language series: Rdz 9, Noe przeklina Kanaana

You will now study the Polish text of Rdz 9, or the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis, where you continue to read about przymierze Boga z Noem (God’s covenant with Noah). You will also read about Noah’s anger in the episode of his drunkenness: Noe przeklina Kanaana, a błogosławi Sema (Noah curses Canaan and blesses Shem). The imperfective verb przeklinać means to curse, whereas the imperfective błogosławić means to bless.

If you are arriving on this site for the first time, begin your study of the Polish language here.

Read Rdz 9

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 9. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Wersety 1-2

  • bać się (impf.), to be afraid, to fear
  • lękać się (impf.), to be afraid, to fear
  • oddać (pf.), to grant, to yield
  • władanie (n.), command

Verse 1 does not present any new usages. God blesses Noah and his sons; he tells them to be fruitful and multiply so as to people the earth. Review: pobłogosławić (pf., to bless), syn (m., son), mówić (impf., to say), płodny (fruitful, fertile), mnożyć się (impf., to multiply oneself), zaludnić (pf., to people). Abyście zaludnili ziemię: in order that you people the earth.

From verse 2, review: zwierzę (n., animal), ptactwo (n., fowl), powietrzny (air, aerial), poruszać się (impf., to move), ziemia (f., earth), ryba (f., fish), morski (marine, sea). Niechaj się was boi i lęka is to be understood as let fear and dread you (each of what was just mentioned). You also read: wszystko, co się porusza na ziemi (everything that moves on the earth) i wszystkie ryby morskie (and all the sea fishes) zostały oddane (were granted; were delivered) wam (unto you) we władanie (in [your] command). 

Was (accusative) and wam (dative) are declensions of wy (you; second-person plural). Note also the following:

oddać (pf., to grant)
oddany (m.)
oddana (f.)
oddane (n.)

zostały oddane
they were granted
they got granted

In zostały oddane, you are not dealing with the singular neuter oddane, but a plural form. There are two plural forms: oddani (masculine personal) and oddane (other). You are dealing with the “other” form here.

Wersety 3-5

  • przeznaczyć (pf.), to assign, to intend
  • mięso (n.), meat
  • upomnieć się (pf.), to lay claim

In verse 3, you read that everything that moves and lives is given to man as food. Jest przeznaczone is to be understood as is assigned, is intended. From the wording dla was na pokarm, meaning for you as food, you will remember that the masculine noun pokarm means food; following dla, you find the genitive was. From this same verse, you will also recall that the Polish for plant is the feminine noun roślina, and that the adjective zielony means green. Tak jak rośliny zielone: just like the green grasses, daję wam wszystko: I give you everything.

The language in verse 4 will remind you of that which you studied in Rdz 2:17 and Rdz 3:3. Mięso z krwią życia means meat with the blood of life. You have encountered the genitive życia (from the nominative neuter życie) a number of times now in your readings, a few examples of which include:

pierwiastek życia (element of life)
tchnienie życia (breath of life)
krew życia (blood of life)

In the first sentence of verse 5, upomnę się o waszą krew is to be understood as I shall lay claim to your blood. In this same sentence, you find the phrase przez wzgląd na (on account of, for the sake of); in Rdz 8:21, you saw a similar phrase: ze względu na. Recall that wzgląd is a masculine noun meaning account, consideration. In the remainder of this sentence, you read that God will demand it (that is, the blood) at the hand of every animal. Recall that krew (blood) is a feminine noun.

First sentence: upomnę się o waszą krew (I shall lay claim to your blood) przez wzgląd na wasze życie (for the sake of your life)upomnę się o nią (and I shall lay claim to it) u każdego zwierzęcia (amongst every animal).

Second sentence: upomnę się też (I shall also lay claim) u człowieka (amongst man) o życie człowieka (to the life of man) i u każdego (and amongst each)o życie brata (to the life of [his] brother).

Wersety 6-7

  • ludzki, human
  • zaludniać (impf.), to people
  • władza (f.), power, rule

You first encountered the perfective verb przelać (to shed) in Rdz 4:11. Because krew is a feminine noun, human blood is krew ludzka in Polish. The first part of verse 6 is to be understood as: [jeśli] kto przeleje krew ludzką (whoever sheds human blood). You then read: przez ludzi ma być przelana krew jego (by man must be shed his blood). In other words, whoever sheds the blood of man shall have his own blood shed by man. In the remainder of verse 6, you read the reason for this: bo człowiek został stworzony (for man was created) na obraz Boga (into the image of God).

The first half of verse 7 repeats language that you have already studied. In the second half, you find two second-person plural imperatives: zaludniajcie (from the imperfective verb zaludniać) and miejcie (from the imperfective verb mieć). You read: zaludniajcie ziemię (people the earth) i miejcie nad nią władzę (and have rule over it).

Wersety 8-11

  • zawierać (impf.), to establish, to conclude
  • przymierze (n.), covenant, alliance
  • domowy, domesticated
  • żaden, no, not any
  • niszczyć (impf.), to destroy

God addresses Noah and his sons to establish his covenant. From verse 9, recall that the neuter noun potomstwo means offspring. Ja zawieram przymierze means I establish a covenant. God then says with whom the covenant is established: z wami i z waszym potomstwem (with you and with your offspirng). In the remainder of verse 9, które po was będzie is to be understood as who after you shall be (that is, who will come after you).

From verse 10, review the following: polny (of the field, rural), przy (+ loc., next to; przy was can be understood as with you), wyjść (pf., to exit). Take note of all the instrumental forms following z (or ze), meaning with.

From verse 11, recall that the perfective verb zgładzić means to wipe out, to put to death. You read: tak iż nigdy już nie zostanie zgładzona (such that never again shall be wiped out) wodami potopu (by the waters of a flood) żadna istota żywa (any living creature).

zostały zgładzona
it (she) was wiped out
it (she) got wiped out

zostanie zgładzona
it (she) will be wiped out
it (she) will get wiped out

Also: już nigdy nie będzie (no more shall [there] be) potopu niszczącego (any flood destroying) ziemię (the earth).

Wersety 12-15

  • dodać (pf.), to add
  • znak (m.), sign
  • wieczny, eternal
  • łuk (m.), bow, arc
  • kłaść (impf.), to put, to set
  • obłok (m.), cloud
  • między (+ instr.), between
  • rozciągnąć (pf.), to stretch, to spread out
  • wspomnąć (pf.), to remember
  • zawrzeć (pf.), to establish, to conclude
  • zniszczenie (n.), destruction

In verse 12, God speaks of znak przymierza (sign of the covenant). God’s covenant is for all time: na wieczne czasy (for eternal times).

The bow of which God speaks in verse 13 is a rainbow: łuk mój kładę na obłoki (my bow I set in the clouds). This bow is to serve as a sign of the covenant: note the use of the instrumental znakiem: aby był znakiem przymierza (in order that it be [as] a sign of the covenant). You will see more examples of the instrumental following the verb być in the verses ahead. Między Mną a ziemią translates as between me and the earth.

From verse 14, remember that the perfective verb ukazać się means to appear. From this verse, gdy rozciągnę obłoki means when I shall spread out the clouds, and gdy ukaże się ten łuk means when this bow will appear. Na obłokach: in the clouds.

Recall that the neuter noun jestestwo means living creature. In verse 15, you read: wtedy wspomnę na moje przymierze (then I shall remember my covenant), które zawarłem z wami (which I have established with you) i z wszelką istotą żywą (and with every living creature), z każdym człowiekiem (with every man); i nie będzie już nigdy (and [there] shall no more be) wód potopu (any waters of the flood) na zniszczenie żadnego jestestwa (in the destruction of every living creature).

Wersety 16-17

  • patrzyć (impf.), to look

These two verses contain a number of usages already studied in the last grouping of verses above. Patrząc na niego, from verse 16, is to be understood as (whilst) looking at it, (whilst) looking upon it. The neuter noun ciało, in addition to body, also means flesh. Wszelka istota żyjąca w każdym ciele means every creature living in each flesh. Verse 17: jakie są na ziemi (that are on the earth).

Wersety 18-19

Review: wyjść (pf., to exit), ojciec (m., father), zaludnić się (pf., to be peopled, to people itself).

The nominative plural of syn (m., son) is synowie (sons); note, however, the use of the instrumental plural synami in conjuction with the verb być in the following: synami Noego byli Sem, Cham i Jafet (the sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth), Cham był ojcem Kanaana (Ham was the father of Canaan). Ojcem is the instrumental form of ojciec.

Ci is the masculine personal plural of the nominative ten. In verse 19, you read: ci trzej byli synami Noego (these three were the sons of Noah). Trzej is the masculine personal of trzy (three). Farther along in the verse, od nich is to be understood as from them.

Wersety 20-21

  • rolnik (m.), husbandman, farmer
  • winnica (f.), vineyard
  • napić się (pf.), to have a drink
  • wino (n.), wine
  • odurzyć się (pf.), to get intoxicated
  • leżeć (impf.), to lie

Review: zasadzić (pf., to plant), nagi (naked), namiot (m., tent).

In verse 20, you read that Noah was a husbandman. Take note of yet another example of the instrumental: Noe był rolnikiem (Noah was a husbandman). It was Noah who was the first to plant a vineyard: on to pierwszy zasadził winnicę (it was him first planted a vineyard; he was the one first planted a vineyard).

Napić się wina means to have a drink of wine; similarly, napić się wody means to have a drink of water. In verse 21, you read that Noah drank wine and became intoxicated: Odurzył się [nim], he got intoxicated by it. He was lying naked in his tent: leżał nagi w swym namiocie.

Wersety 22-23

  • ujrzeć (pf.), to see, to behold
  • nagość (f.), nakedness
  • poza (+ instr.), out(side) of
  • płaszcz (m.), cloak
  • trzymać (impf.), to hold on to
  • ramię (n.), shoulder
  • tył (m.), back (of human body)
  • przykryć (pf.), to cover
  • odwracać (impf.) to turn round

Having seen the nakedness of his father (ujrzawszy nagość swego ojca), Ham, in verse 22, tells his brothers about it: powiedział o tym (he told about this) dwu swym braciom (unto his two brothers). His brothers were outside the tent: którzy byli poza namiotem (who were outside the tent).

From verse 23, review the following: wziąć (pf., to take), wejść (pf., to enter), twarz (f., face), widzieć (impf., to see). Shem and Japheth took a cloak: wzięli płaszcz (they took a cloak). Holding the cloak on their shoulders (trzymając go na ramionach, holding it on [their] shoulders), they went backwards into the tent: weszli (they entered) tyłem (by [their] back; that is, backwards) do namiotu (into the tent). They covered their naked father: przykryli nagość swego ojca (they covered the nakedness of their father).

You also read: twarzy zaś swych nie odwracali (whereas their faces did not turn around [were not turning around]), aby nie widzieć nagości swego ojca (so as not to see the nakedness of their father).

Wersety 24-25

  • obudzić się (pf.), to awaken
  • odurzenie (n.), intoxication
  • dowiedzieć się (pf.), to find out
  • młodszy, younger
  • najniższy, lowest
  • sługa (m.), servant

In verse 24, you read that Noah awakens (awaken is a euphemism here for sober up): Noe obudził się (Noah awakened) po odurzeniu (after his intoxication) winem (by wine). Młodszy (younger) is the comparative form of młody (young).


You read: kiedy […] dowiedział się (when he found out), co uczynił mu (what had done unto him) jego młodszy syn (his younger son).

In verse 25, Noah curses Canaan. Recall that przeklęty means cursed, damned: niech będzie przeklęty Kanaan (may Canaan be damned). Noah also says: niech będzie (may he be) najniższym sługą (the lowest servant) swych braci (of his brothers). Najniższy (lowest) is the superlative form of niski (low).


Wersety 26-29

  • błogosławiony, blessed
  • i… i, both… and
  • przestrzeń (f.), space
  • zamieszkać (pf.), to settle, to dwell

Review: sługa (m., servant), duży (large), namiot (m., tent).

Curses and blessings continue. Verse 26: niech będzie błogosławiony Pan (may the Lord be blessed), Bóg Sema (the God of Shem); niech Kanaan będzie sługą Sema (may Canaan be the servant of Shem).

Verse 27: niech Bóg da i Jafetowi dużą przestrzeń (may God give to Japheth both large space) i niech on zamieszka (and may he dwell) w namiotach Sema (in the tents of Shem), a Kanaan niech będzie mu sługą (and may Canaan be a servant unto him).

Recall from Rdz 3:22 that wiek is a masculine noun meaning age. In verses 28 and 29, you read that Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood (po potopie) and died at the age (w wieku) of nine hundred and fifty years. You may wish to review Polish cardinal numbers.