Polish language series: Rdz 15, Ja jestem twoim obrońcą

In the Polish version of the fifteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, or Rdz 15, the subject matter is: zapowiedź licznego potomstwa i przymierze (announcement of numerous offspring and the covenant). You may need to review the following: zapowiedź (f., announcement), liczny (numerous), potomstwo (n., offspring), przymierze (n., covenant). As for the Polish Ja jestem twoim obrońcą in the title of this post, you will discover its meaning in the notes for the first verse below.

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Read Rdz 15

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 15. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Wersety 1-2

  • wydarzenie (n.), occurrence, event, incident
  • podczas (+ gen.), during
  • widzenie (n.), vision
  • obawiać (impf.) się, to be afraid
  • obrońca (m.), protector, defender
  • nagroda (f.), reward, prize
  • sowity, ample, lavish
  • kres (m.), end, limit
  • przyszły, future
  • spadkobierca (m.), heir
  • majętność (f.), fortune

Review: powiedzieć (pf., to say), skoro (since, given that, seeing that), zbliżać się (impf., to draw near), życie (n., life), potomek (m., descendant).

Po tych wydarzeniach, the text by which this first verse begins, is to be understood as following these events, after these occurrences, etc. You read that God spoke to Abram in a vision: podczas widzenia. In the remainder of this first verse, God tells Abram to have no fear for he is his defender: Ja jestem twoim obrońcą (I am your defender, I am your protector). In conjunction with the verb być, you find twój obrońca in instrumental position as twoim obrońcą. You may wish to review the declension of Polish possessive pronouns, such as twój.

Unlike the capitalised English I, Polish does not normally capitalise the j of ja; it is capitalised here, however, because it is God speaking.

Note how God addresses Abram in verse 1: Abramie ([O] Abram). Abram’s name is inflected here for the vocative case. You find more examples of the vocative in verse 2, when Abram calls out to God: o Panie (O Lord), mój Boże (my God).

After God tells Abram that his reward will be ample, Abram says, in verse 2: na cóż mi ona; by this, Abram makes an objection, as in what ever is it to me. He then goes on to say: skoro zbliżam się do kresu mego życia (given that I am drawing near to the end of my life), nie mając potomka (not having a descendant). The masculine noun Damasceńczyk means Damascan. In the remainder of verse 2, Abram says that his future heir is Eliezer the Damascan.

Wersety 3-5

  • dziedziczyć (impf.), to inherit
  • zdołać (pf.), to manage, to succeed

Review: ponieważ (because), zrodzić (pf., to beget), sługa (m., servant), zostać (pf., to become), usłyszeć (pf., to hear), słowo (n., word), lecz (but), pochodzić (impf., to descend), polecić (pf., to instruct, to command), wyjść (pf., to exit, to come out), namiot (m., tent), spojrzeć (pf., to look), policzyć (pf., to count), gwiazda (f., star), dodać (pf., to add), liczny (numerous).

In verse 3, Abram continues to speak of Eliezer, saying that the servant born in his house (u mnie, at my place, in my house), that is, Eliezer, is the one that becomes his heir. Ten właśnie zrodzony u mnie sługa mój is to be understood as this very slave of mine begotten in my house. It can be understood literally as: ten właśnie (this very) zrodzony u mnie (begotten at my place) sługa mój (my slave; slave mine).

God replies in verse 4: nie on będzie twoim spadkobiercą (it is not him who will be your heir), lecz ten po tobie dziedziczyć będzie (but the one after you will inherit), który od ciebie będzie pochodził (who will descend from you).

In verse 5, God commands Abram: spójrz na niebo i policz gwiazdy (look at the heaven and count the stars), jeśli zdołasz to uczynić (if you will manage to do this; that is, if you can). Of course, Abram will not be able to count the stars; God says: tak liczne będzie twoje potomstwo (your offspring will be just as numerous).

Wersety 6-8

  • uwierzyć (pf.), to believe
  • poczytać (pf.), to consider
  • zasługa (f.), credit, merit
  • wywieść (pf.), to take out, to lead out
  • własność (f.), possession, property
  • upewnić (pf.) się, to ascertain

Review: chaldejski (Chaldean), otrzymać (pf., to receive).

Abram believed what God had said, and God saw this as being to his merit: Pan poczytał mu to za zasługę (verse 6). In verse 7, God says: Ja jestem Pan, który ciebie wywiodłem z Ur chaldejskiego (I am the Lord who led you out of the Chaldean Ur), aby ci dać ten oto kraj na własność (in order to give you this very land for a possession).

Verse 8 begins: a na to Abram. This is to be understood as meaning and (in response) to this Abram (said). In the remainder of the verse, Abram asks how he can be certain of the fulfilment of the promise: o Panie, mój Boże (O Lord, my God), jak będę mógł się upewnić (how shall I be able to ascertain; that is, how shall I know), że otrzymam go na własność? (that I shall receive it for a possession?).

Wersety 9-11

  • trzyletni, three-year-old
  • jałowica (f.), heifer (young cow)
  • koza (f.), goat
  • baran (m.), ram
  • nadto, furthermore
  • synogarlica (f.), ring dove, turtle dove
  • poprzerąbywać (impf.), to chop
  • połowa (f.), half
  • przerąbać (pf.), to chop
  • ułożyć (pf.), to place, to put down
  • naprzeciw (+ gen.), opposite
  • porozcinać (impf.), to cut (open)
  • zlatywać (impf.) się, to flock, to come flying
  • drapieżny, predatory
  • odpędzić (pf.), to repel, to drive away

Review: wybrać (pf., to choose), gołębica (f., dove, pigeon), wzdłuż (lengthways, along the length), część (f., part, share, portion), ptak (m., bird), mięso (n., meat), zacząć (pf., to start, to begin), ptactwo (n., fowl).

Work through the text of verse 9 with the aid of the vocabulary listed above. Note: wybierz is the second-person singular imperative form of the perfective wybrać.

From Rdz 13:17, you will perhaps recall the following vocabulary: wzdłuż (lengthways, along the length), wszerz (breadthways, along the breadth). In that verse, you read: wstań i przejdź ten kraj wzdłuż i wszerz (arise and traverse this land lengthways and breadthways). Now, in verse 10 of the current chapter, you read: Abram poprzerąbywał je wzdłuż na połowy. From this, you will understand that he cut the gathered animals lengthways into halves. You then read that he placed the chopped portions opposite one another: przerąbane części (the chopped pieces) ułożył (he placed) jedną naprzeciw drugiej (the one opposite the other; that is, opposite one another).

From verse 11, ptactwo drapieżne (literally, predatory fowl) is to be understood as referring to birds of prey. Abram drove them away when they came in for the meat of the cut animals.

Wersety 12-14

  • słońce (n.), sun
  • chylić (impf.) się, to go down
  • zapaść (pf.), to sink
  • opanować (pf.), to seize, to grip
  • uczucie (n.), feeling
  • lęk (m.), fear
  • ogarnąć (pf.), to seize, to grip
  • przebywać (impf.), to sojourn, to abide
  • przybysz (m.), stranger, outsider
  • ciemiężyć (impf.), to oppress
  • zesłać (pf.), to send (from heaven)
  • zasłużony, just, due, deserved

Review: zachód (m., west), głęboki (deep), sen (m., sleep), wielki (great, large), ciemność (f., darkness), wiedzieć (impf., to know), dobrze (well), niewolnik (m., slave), (until), wreszcie (after all, at last), kara (f., punishment), naród (m., nation), dobytek (m., livestock; possessions).

With the aid of the vocabulary listed above, work through the text of verse 12. Note the following: ku zachodowi (towards the west); zapadł (he sank); w głęboki sen (into a deep sleep); uczucie lęku (feeling of fear); jak gdyby (as if, as though). You may wish to review the cardinal points in Polish (see the notes for verse 8).

This is not the first time you are encountering the Polish for deep sleep, which is głęboki sen. You may recall having met it near the beginning of your study, in Rdz 2:21, when God induced a deep sleep in Adam before taking one of his ribs.

In verse 13, you find the second-person singular imperative wiedz, from the imperfective verb wiedzieć. Wiedz o tym dobrze, iż means know about this well that or know of this well that; in other words, know well that. In the remainder of the verse, you read what it is that Abram is to know well: his descendants will sojourn in a land that is not theirs and where they will be oppressed for four hundred years: przez czterysta lat (for four hundred years) będą tam (there they shall be) ciemiężeni jako niewolnicy (oppressed as slaves).

God continues, in verse 14: aż wreszcie (until at last) ześlę zasłużoną karę na ten naród (I shall send down a deserved punishment unto this nation). Którego będą niewolnikami means of whom they (the descendants of Abram) will be slaves; these descendants will come out the land with a great deal of possessions.

Wersety 15-21

  • przodek (m.), ancestor, forefather
  • pokój (m.), peace
  • późny, late, advanced
  • starość (f.), old age
  • zejść (pf.), to go down
  • grób (m.), grave, tomb
  • pokolenie (n.), generation
  • dopełnić (pf.) się, to fill oneself
  • miara (f.), measure
  • niegodziwość (f.), wickedness, iniquity
  • zajść (pf.), to set
  • mrok (m.), darkness
  • nieprzenikniony, impenetrable
  • dym (m.), smoke
  • jakby, as if, as though
  • wydobywać (impf.) się, to emanate
  • piec (m.), furnace, oven, kiln
  • niby, as if, as though
  • goreć (impf.), to burn, to glow
  • pochodnia (f.), torch
  • przesunąć (pf.) się, to move, to pass

Review: odejść (pf., to leave, to depart), powrócić (pf., to return, to come back), czwarty (fourth), nastać (pf., to come about), ukazać się (pf., to appear), ogień (m., fire), zwierzę (n., animal), zawrzeć (pf., to establish, to contract), przymierze (n., covenant), rzeka (f., river), egipski (Egyptian).

In verse 15, you find two second-person singular, perfective future tense forms: odejdziesz (you will leave) and zejdziesz (you will go down). You read that Abram will depart to his forefathers in peace (w pokoju) and go down to his grave in a ripe old age. The Polish for ripe old age is późna starość.

In verse 16, you read that it is only in the fourth generation that Abram’s descendants will return; the “measure of iniquity” (that is, the amount or degree of wickedness) of the Amorites had yet to become full: twoi potomkowie (your descendants) powrócą tu (shall return here) dopiero w czwartym pokoleniu (only in the fourth generation), gdy już dopełni się (when will have filled itself) miara niegodziwości (the measure of iniquity) Amorytów (of the Amorites).

At the beginning of verse 17, you read: a kiedy słońce zaszło (and when the sun set) i nastał mrok nieprzenikniony (and impenetrable darkness came about). The verb used here for to set is the perfective zajść. You also read: ukazał się dym (smoke appeared) jakby wydobywający się z pieca (as though emanating from an oven) i ogień (and fire) niby gorejąca pochodnia (as though [it were] a burning torch) i przesunęły się (and they passed) między tymi połowami zwierząt (between those halves of animals).

Verse 18: wtedy to właśnie (right after this) Pan zawarł przymierze (the Lord established [his] covenant) z Abramem (with Abraham), mówiąc (saying). Zawarł is the masculine, third-person singular of the past tense of the perfective verb zawrzeć. God says: potomstwu twemu (to your offspring) daję ten kraj (I grant this land), od Rzeki Egipskiej (from the Egyptian River) aż do rzeki wielkiej, rzeki Eufrat (unto the great river, the river Euphrates). Rzeka Egipska translates literally as Egyptian River, where the adjective egipski is in feminine form as egipska to agree with the feminine noun rzeka. Following od, it takes its genitive form, which is Rzeki Egipskiej. Note that the adjective egipski is not normally capitalised; it is found capitalised here, however, because it forms part of a proper name.

Verses 19 and 20 mention the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites. All the Polish names of these peoples are found in instrumental form because they are used with the expression wraz z, meaning along with.