Polish language series: Rdz 17, przymierze obrzezania

In Rdz 17, or chapter 17 of the book of Genesis, God establishes a covenant of circumcision with Abram, who is renamed Abraham. The Polish for circumcision is the neuter noun obrzezanie. Przymierze obrzezania, then, means covenant of circumcision.

If you are arriving on this site for the first time, begin your study of the Polish language here (Rdz 1). In your study of Polish, you will use the Biblia Tysiąclecia as your source text. You can read the text of this Bible entirely online.

Before you begin your study of Rdz 17, you must access the verses on biblia.deon.pl below:

Consult text only

Consult text and audio

Should the above links ever become unavailable, you will find an archived version of the text here.

Wersety 1-2

  • jam jest = ja jestem
  • wszechmogący, omnipotent, all-powerful
  • służyć (impf.), to serve
  • nieskazitelny, unreproachable, unfaultable
  • chcieć (impf.), to want
  • niezmiernie, exceedingly, extremely

Review: ukazać się (pf., to appear), zawrzeć (pf., to establish, to contract), przymierze (n., covenant), pomiędzy (between), liczny (numerous), potomstwo (n., offspring).

The Polish for ninety-nine is dziewięćdziesiąt dziewięć. You may wish to review Polish cardinal numbers. In verse 1, you read that Abram was ninety-nine years old when God appeared to him and said what follows in the rest of the text.

Work through these first two verses of the chapter with the aid of the vocabulary listed above. You may wish to take note of the following: służ Mi (serve me), bądź nieskazitelny (be without reproach, be unreproachable, be without fault, etc.), chcę (I want).

Wersety 3-6

  • paść (pf.), to fall
  • mnóstwo (n.), multitude
  • odtąd, from now on, henceforth
  • nazywać (impf.) się, to be called

Review: oblicze (n., face), stać się (pf., to become), ojciec (f., father), naród (m., nation), lecz (but), imię (n., name), uczynić (pf., to make), sprawić (pf., to cause, to bring about), płodny (fruitful, fertile), pochodzić (impf., to descend), król (m., king).

In verse 3, you read: Abram padł na oblicze (Abram fell on his face). In other words, as a form of reverence, Abram got down on his hands and knees and put his forehead to the ground.

In verse 4, God tells Abram that he will become the father of a multitude of nations: staniesz się ojcem mnóstwa narodów. He continues by telling Abram that his name will be changed: nie będziesz więc odtąd nazywał się Abram (you will not therefore henceforth be called Abram). He tells him that his new name will be Abraham: imię twoje będzie Abraham.

In verse 6, God tells Abraham that he will make him exceedingly fruitful and that kings will descend from him. You read: sprawię, że będziesz niezmiernie płodny (I shall cause that you will be exceedingly fruitful), tak że staniesz się ojcem narodów (so that you will become the father of nations) i pochodzić będą od ciebie królowie (and kings will be descending from you).

Wersety 7-8

Review: zawierać (impf., to contract, to establish), trwać (impf., to last, to endure), pokolenie (n., generation), wieczny (eternal), oddawać (impf., to grant, to yield), przyszły (future), potomek (m., descendant), kraj (m., land, country), przebywać (impf., to sojourn, to abide), własność (f., ownership), na wieki (forever).

You read, in verse 7, that the covenant to be established by God with Abraham and his offspring will endure from generation to generation; the Polish for from generation to generation is z pokolenia w pokolenie. In this same verse, abym był Bogiem twoim means so that I am your God.

In verse 8, God tells Abraham: i oddaję tobie i twym przyszłym potomkom (and I grant you and your future descendants) kraj, w którym przebywasz (the land in which you sojourn). Będę ich Bogiem, from the end of the verse, means I shall be their God.

Wersety 9-11

  • zachowywać (impf.), to keep, to retain
  • polegać (impf.), to consist
  • obrzezać (pf.), to circumcise
  • obrzezywać (impf.), to circumcise
  • napletek (m.), foreskin, prepuce

Review: mężczyzna (m., man), ciało (n., flesh), znak (m., sign, mark).

Zachowujcie, from verse 9, is the second-person plural imperative form of the imperfective verb zachowywać. God tells Abraham and his future offspring to retain the covenant with him.

From verse 10, między Mną a wami means between me and you. Wami is the instrumental form of the second-person plural wy. God explains what the covenant entails; polega na tym, from farther along in the verse, is to be understood as consists of this, as in przymierze […] polega na tym (the covenant consists of this; the covenant entails the following). God then says to Abraham: wszyscy wasi mężczyźni (all your men) mają być obrzezani (have to be circumcised). Note the plural form mężczyźni, and the plural obrzezani which refers back to it. You may wish to review Polish possessive pronouns, such as the plural masculine personal wasi.

In verse 11, you read: będziecie obrzezywali (you will be circumcising) ciało napletka (the flesh of the foreskin) na znak przymierza waszego (as a sign of your covenant) ze Mną (with me).

Wersety 12-14

  • płeć (f.), gender
  • męski, male, masculine
  • lub, or
  • nabyć (pf.), to buy, to obtain
  • pieniądze (pl.), money
  • obcy (m.), stranger
  • obrzezanie (n.), circumcision
  • usunąć (pf.), to remove, to dismiss
  • społeczność (f.), community

Review: każdy (every), dziecko (n., child), dzień (m., day), sługa (m., servant), urodzić (pf., to bear), dom (m., house), na zawsze (forever), zerwać (pf., to break).

Każde wasze dziecko płci męskiej, from verse 12, is to be understood as meaning every male child of yours. More literally, it translates as your every child of male gender. God states what must occur when the male children turn eight days old: gdy będzie miało osiem dni (when he [the child] will have eight days), ma być obrzezane (he has to be circumcised). The neuter forms miało and obrzezane are used because they refer back to the neuter noun dziecko.

Still in verse 12, you also read that even the male servants are concerned by the covenant and must be circumcised: sługa urodzony w waszym domu (the servant born in your house) lub nabyty za pieniądze (or bought with money) […] ma być obrzezany (has to be circumcised). Note now the masculine forms urodzony, nabyty and obrzezany, which refer back to the masculine noun sługa.

In verse 14, God says that the male who is uncircumcised (note the negated form nieobrzezany) will be dismissed from Abraham’s community of people. The reason given for this is that he will have broken the covenant. Obrzezano is the impersonal past; nie obrzezano can be understood as meaning one has not circumcised. You read: mężczyzna, któremu nie obrzezano ciała jego napletka (the man unto whom one has not circumcised the flesh of his foreskin).

Wersety 15-18

  • nadal, as before
  • upaść (pf.), to fall
  • roześmiać (pf.) się, to burst into laughter
  • pomyśleć (pf.), to think
  • stuletni, hundred-year-old
  • albo, or
  • dziewięćdziesięcioletni, ninety-year-old
  • oby, oh that, may
  • przynajmniej, at least, anyway
  • opieka (f.), protection

Review: żona (f., wife), błogosławić (impf., to bless), dać (pf., to give), lud (m., people), twarz (f., face), zostać (pf., to become), zatem (and so, therefore), żyć (impf., to live), pod (under).

God tells Abraham, in verse 15, that his wife’s name is no longer Sarai: żony twej nie będziesz nazywał imieniem Saraj (you will not be calling your wife by the name Sarai). Her name henceforth is Sara (Sarah). Then, in verse 16, God tells Abraham that he will give him a son through Sarah.

From verse 3, you will remember having read: padł na oblicze (he fell on his face). Compare that now with the different vocabulary from verse 17, where you find: upadłszy na twarz (having fallen on his face). After having fallen on his face, Abraham burst out laughing: roześmiał się.

The reason for his laughter is made clear, in verse 17, from what Abraham thinks to himself: czyż człowiekowi stuletniemu (is unto a one-hundred-year-old man) może się urodzić syn (a son able to be born)? He continues: albo czy dziewięćdziesięcioletnia Sara może zostać matką (or is the ninety-nine-year-old Sarah able to become a mother)?

Wersety 19-21

  • ależ nie, nothing of the sort, why no
  • co do, as for, as regards
  • wysłuchać (pf.), to hear
  • książę (m.), prince

Review: przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), pobłogosławić (pf., to bless), wielkim (great, large), rok (m., year), pora (f., season, time).

From the beginning of verse 19, a Bóg mu na to is to be understood as meaning and at this God (said) unto him.

The son that Sarah will bear will be called Isaac. In verse 19, God says: żona twoja, Sara, urodzi ci syna (your wife, Sarah, will bear a son unto you), któremu dasz imię Izaak (to whom you will give the name Isaac).

From verse 20, dwunastu is the genitive form of dwanaście (twelve). Of Ishmael, you read that God says: on będzie ojcem dwunastu książąt (he will be the father of twelve princes). God also says: narodem wielkim go uczynię (I shall make him a great nation).

In verse 21, you understand that it is not with Ishmael that God will establish his covenant, but with Isaac. He says: moje zaś przymierze zawrę z Izaakiem (my covenant, however, I shall establish with Isaac). Za rok o tej porze is to be understood as next year in this season, in a year at this time.

Wersety 22-27

  • wypowiedzieć (pf.), to express
  • oddalić (pf.), się, to withdraw, to retire
  • domownik (m.), household member
  • ten sam, the very same
  • nakazać (pf.), to order, to command

Review: słowo (n., word), wziąć (pf., to take), zrodzić (pf., to beget).

In this final grouping of verses, you read that the circumcisions were undertaken and upon whom they were performed.

From both verse 23 and 26, tego samego dnia is to be understood as on that very day. Verse 26 begins: tego samego dnia zostali więc obrzezani (on that very day, [the following] therefore got circumcised).

In verse 27, you read: a wraz z nimi (and along with them) zostali obrzezani wszyscy jego domownicy (all his [male] household members got circumcised). You then come across słudzy in the text, which is the plural of the nominative singular sługa (servant).