Polish language series: Rdz 12, Bóg powołuje Abrama

A large amount of new Polish vocabulary appears in Rdz 12. Amongst this vocabulary are the cardinal directions in Polish, which you will study in the notes below for verse 8. This twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis deals with the following subject matter: Bóg powołuje Abrama (God appoints Abram) and Abram w Egipcie (Abram in Egypt). The imperfective verb powoływać means to appoint; the Polish for Egypt is the masculine noun Egipt.

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Read Rdz 12

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 12. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Wersety 1-3

  • rodzinny, family, domestic
  • dom (m.), house, home
  • ukazać (pf.), to show
  • rozsławić (pf.), to cover with glory
  • błogosławieństwo (n.), blessing
  • otrzymywać (impf.), to receive

Review: wyjść (pf., to exit, to go out), ojciec (m., father), kraj (m., land, country), wielki (great, large), naród (m., nation), stać się (pf., to become), złorzeczyć (impf., to curse).

God, in verse 1, tells Abram: wyjdź z twojej ziemi rodzinnej (go out from your homeland [literally, family land]) i z domu twego ojca (and from the house of your father) do kraju, który ci ukażę (unto the land which I shall show you). You have met the perfective verb ukazać before, but only as the reflexive ukazać się (to appear). For example, in Rdz 1:9, you encountered: i niech się ukaże powierzchnia sucha (and let the dry surface appear). Given that ukazać means to show, you might consider that a more literal meaning of the reflexive ukazać się is to show oneself.

Verse 2 begins: uczynię bowiem z ciebie wielki naród (for I shall make of you a great nation). God continues by saying that he will bless Abram and cover his name in glory. You then find in the text błogosławieństwem, which is the instrumental form of the nominative błogosławieństwo. You read: staniesz się błogosławieństwem (a blessing shall you become).

In verse 3, God says that he will bless those who bless Abram, and curse those who curse him: będę błogosławił tym (I shall bless those), którzy ciebie błogosławić będą (who will bless you), a tym (and those), którzy tobie będą złorzeczyli (who will curse you), i ja będę złorzeczył (shall I also curse). Tym: dative; literally, unto those. As for przez ciebie, this is to be understood as through you. God says: przez ciebie (through you) będą otrzymywały błogosławieństwo (shall receive a blessing) ludy całej ziemi (the people of the entire earth).

Wersety 4-6

  • pójść (pf.), to go
  • bratanek (m.), fraternal nephew
  • dobytek (m.), livestock; possessions
  • oba, both
  • posiadać (impf.), to own, to possess
  • służba (f.,), servants, domestic staff
  • nabyć (pf.), to obtain, to acquire, to buy
  • przybyć (pf.), to arrive
  • przejść (pf.), to traverse, to pass
  • pewien, a, one, a certain
  • miejscowość (f.), place, spot
  • koło (+ gen.), near
  • dąb (m.), oak
  • wówczas, then, at that time

Review: udać się (pf., to go, to proceed), droga (f., way, road), rozkazać (pf., to order, to command), zabrać (pf., to take away, to take along), oraz (also), wyruszyć (impf., to leave, to set out), mieszkać (impf., to live), Kananejczyk (m., Canaanite man).

Despite the large amount of vocabulary that may be new to you in this grouping of verses, you should be able to work through it with minimal help. A few pointers nonetheless:

Abram udał się w drogę, from verse 4, can be understood as meaning Abram set out. It is out of Haran that he went: wyszedł z Charanu. You read that Lot also went with him: a z nim poszedł i Lot. Obaj, from verse 5, is in masculine personal form; it means both (of them): jaki obaj posiadali (that both owned [were owning]). In verse 6, you read: Abram przeszedł przez ten kraj (Abram passed through this land) aż do pewnej miejscowości koło Sychem (as far as a certain place near Sichem), do dębu More (unto the oak of Moreh). Kananejczycy: pl., Canaanites.

You may wish to learn the following related vocabulary: bratanek (m., fraternal nephew), bratanica (f., fraternal niece), siostrzeniec (m., sororal nephew), siostrzenica (f., sororal niece).

Wersety 7-8

  • oddawać (impf.), to grant, to yield
  • przenieść (pf.) się, to move, to go over
  • wzgórze (n.), hill
  • rozbić (pf.), to pitch
  • zachód (m.), west

Review: potomstwo (n., offspring), zbudować (pf., to build, to construct), ołtarz (m., altar), stamtąd (from there), wschód (m., east), na wschód od (to the east of), namiot (m., tent), pomiędzy (between), również (also), wzywać (impf., to call upon), imię (n., name).

Ukazawszy się Abramowi, from verse 7, means having appeared unto Abram. God says: twojemu potomstwu (unto your offspring) oddaję właśnie tę ziemię (I grant this very land). Farther along in the verse, który mu się ukazał is to be understood as who had appeared unto him. In verse 8, you read: pomiędzy Betel od zachodu i Aj od wschodu (between Bethel on [from] the west and Hai on [from] the east).

You may now wish to learn the names of all four cardinal points: północ (f., north), południe (n., south), wschód (m., east), zachód (m., west).

In the following phrases, the cardinal points are in locative position: na północy (in the north), na południu (in the south), na wschodzie (in the east), na zachodzie (in the west).

As for this next set of phrases, the cardinal points are in the accusative: na północ (to the north), na południe (to the south), na wschód (to the east), na zachód (to the west). These can be followed by od, as in: na północ od (to the north of), na południe od (to the south of), na wschód od (to the east of), na zachód od (to the west of).

The adjective północny means northern; południowy means southern. Learn also the following: północny wschód (north-east), północny zachód (north-west), południowy wschód (south-east), południowy zachód (south-west). These translate literally from the Polish as northern east, northern west, southern east, southern west.

Wersety 9-13

  • zwinąć (pf.), to roll up, to fold up
  • strona (f.), side, way
  • głód (m.), famine
  • powędrować (pf.), to journey, to trek
  • Egipt (m.), Egypt
  • pewien, certain, some
  • ciężki, grievous, bad
  • urodziwy, attractive, comely
  • kobieta (f.), woman
  • skoro, as soon as
  • Egipcjanin (m.), Egyptian
  • zostawić (pf.), to leave
  • wieść (impf.) się, to fare
  • dzięki (+ dat.), thanks to
  • utrzymać (pf.), to remain, to persist

Review: wędrować (impf., to journey, to trek), miejsce (n., place, spot), nastać (pf., to come about), ów (that, the aforementioned), pozostać (pf., to remain, to stay), czas (m., time), zbliżać się (impf., to draw near), wiedzieć (impf., to know), powiedzieć (pf., to say), ujrzeć (pf., to see, to behold), zabić (pf., to kill), życie (n., life), mówić (impf., to say), siostra (f., sister), dobrze (well), wzgląd (m., account, consideration).

Zwinąwszy namioty, from verse 9, can be understood as meaning having broken camp or having set out (literally, having rolled up the tent; having folded up the tent). In the remainder of the verse, you read: Abram wędrował (Abram was journeying) z miejsca na miejsce (from place to place) w stronę Negebu (towards the Negev). The Negeb (Negev) is a desertic region of southern Israel.

In verse 10, you read that a famine in the land caused Abram to go down to Egypt. The wording aby tam przez pewien czas pozostać is to be understood as meaning in order to stay there for a while. Przez pewien czas means for a while, for some time, for a certain (amount of) time, etc.

Verse 11 begins: a gdy się już zbliżał do Egiptu (and as he was yet drawing near to Egypt; and as he was yet approaching Egypt). The reflexive verb in question here in the imperfective zbliżać się (to draw near, to come unto). You have already met this verb in your readings, as well as its perfective equivalent zbliżyć się; up to this point, however, you had only seen them used euphemistically to refer to the act of engaging in carnal relations (see Rdz 4:1 and Rdz 6:4).

In the remainder of verse 11, Abram says to his wife Sarai: wiem, że jesteś urodziwą kobietą (I know that you are a comely woman). Kobieta is the usual word for woman in modern Polish; niewiasta, which you have encountered in previous readings, is considered poetic.

Abram, in verse 12, continues to address his wife: skoro cię ujrzą Egipcjanie (as soon as the Egyptians will see you), powiedzą (they will say): to jego żona (this is his wife); i zabiją mnie (and they will kill me), a ciebie zostawią przy życiu (whereas you they will let live). Przy is followed by the locative. An Egyptian man is an Egipcjanin; an Egyptian woman is an Egipcjanka.

Mów, from verse 13, is the second-person singular imperative of the imperfective mówić. In this verse, Abram tells Sarai to say that she is his sister. The reason for this, he says, is: aby mi się dobrze wiodło (in order that it fare well for me) ze względu na ciebie (on account of you) i abym dzięki tobie utrzymał się przy życiu (and so that thanks to you I stay alive).

Wersety 14-16

  • przybyć (pf.), to come, to arrive
  • zauważyć (pf.), to notice, to observe
  • dostojnik (m.), dignitary
  • faraon (m.), pharaoh
  • chwalić (impf.), to praise
  • toteż, and so, therefore
  • dwór (m.), court
  • wynagrodzić (pf.), to reward, to recompense
  • sowicie, generously
  • owca (f.), sheep
  • wół (m.), ox
  • niewolnik (m.), male slave, manservant
  • niewolnica (f.), female slave, maidservant
  • oślica (f.), female donkey, jenny
  • wielbłąd (m.), camel

Review: piękny (beautiful, fine), przed (+ instr., in front of, before), otrzymać (pf., to receive).

Verse 14: zauważyli Egipcjanie (the Egyptians noticed), że Saraj jest bardzo piękną kobietą (that Sarai was [is] a very beautiful woman). Egipcjanin: m., Egyptian; Egipcjanie, pl., Egyptians.

In verse 15, you read: ujrzawszy ją dostojnicy faraona (the dignitaries of the Pharaoh having seen her), chwalili ją także przed faraonem (they also praised her before the Pharaoh).

In this grouping of verses, you find two impersonal past forms: zabrano (verse 15) and wynagrodzono (verse 16); these can be understood as meaning one took and one recompensed, respectively. Za nią, from verse 16, can be taken as because of her, for her sake.

Wersety 17-20

  • dotknąć (impf.), to afflict
  • otoczenie (n.), surroundings
  • kara (f.), punishment
  • wezwać (pf.) to call in, to summon
  • czemu, why
  • iść (impf.), to go
  • dworzanin (m.), courtier
  • żeby, in order that
  • odprowadzić (pf.), to escort, to march off

Review: cóż (what, what ever), dlaczego (why), wziąć (pf., to take), dać (pf., to give), rozkaz (m., command, order), granica (f., border).

Otoczenie (surroundings), from verse 17, is to be understood as referring to the men surrounding the Pharaoh: that is, his servants. In this same verse, zabranie is a verbal noun from the perfective zabrać. Wielkimi karami za zabranie Saraj can be understood as meaning with great punishments for the taking of Sarai.

In verse 18, the Pharaoh asks Abram: cóżeś mi uczynił? (what ever have you done to me?). He then asks him, in verse 19, why he said that Sarai was his sister; the Pharaoh had taken Sarai with the intention of making her his wife: dlaczego mówiłeś (why did you say [why were were you saying]): że to moja siostra (that “she is my wife”), tak że wziąłem ją sobie (such that I took her unto myself) za żonę? (as a wife; for wife). Farther along in verse 19, the Pharaoh says: zabierz ją i idź (take her and go); zabierz and idź are second-person singular imperatives from the perfective zabrać and imperfective iść.

In the final verse, you read that the Pharaoh gave the order to his courtiers to take Abram, his wife and all his possessions to the border: dał też faraon (the Pharaoh also gave) rozkaz dworzanom (the command to his courtiers), żeby Abrama i jego żonę (so that Abram and his wife; accusative), i cały jego dobytek (and all his possessions) odprowadzili [do granicy] (they march off to the border); that is, march off to the border Abram and his wife and all his possessions.