Polish language series: Rdz 20, Abraham w Gerarze

In your study of the Polish language through the book of Genesis, you have now reached Rdz 20. In this twentieth chapter, the subject is Abraham w Gerarze (Abraham in Gerar).

If you are arriving on this site for the first time, begin your study of the Polish language here (Rdz 1).

Read Rdz 20

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 20. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Wersety 1-3

  • mawiać (impf.), to be accustomed to saying
  • wysłać (pf.), to send

Review: powędrować (pf., to journey, to trek), stamtąd (from there), osiedlić się (pf., to settle), pomiędzy (between), przebywać (impf., to sojourn, to abide), żona (f., wife), siostra (f., sister), wobec (+ gen., in front of; wobec tego, this being so), król (m., king), ludzie (pl., people, men), zabrać (pf., to take away), noc (f., night), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), sen (m., dream, sleep), powiedzieć (pf., to say), umrzeć (pf., to die), powód (m., cause, reason; z powodu, on account of), kobieta (f., woman), mąż (m., husband).

There is a good deal of Polish vocabulary to review from these first verses, which, as usual, you will find listed above.

When Abraham soujourned in Gerar, he would say of his wife that she was his sister. In verses 1 and 2, you read: a gdy przebywał w Gerarze (and when he was sojourning in Gerar), mawiał o swej żonie Sarze (he would say about his wife Sarah): «jest ona moją siostrą» (“she is my sister”).

Note that the imperfective mawiać conveys the sense of saying something repeatedly; mawiał can be understood as meaning he was saying, he would say, he used to say. It is followed here by o (+ loc.), meaning about: mawiał o swej żonie Sarze (he would say about his wife Sarah, he used to say about his wife Sarah). You may wish to review the declension of Polish possessive pronouns.

From verse 2, wobec tego is to be understood as meaning this being so (literally, in front of this). You read that Abimelech sent for Sarah, believing her to be unmarried: wysłał [swoich] ludzi (he sent his men), by zabrali Sarę (to take Sarah). The men spoken of here are the servants of Abimelech whom he sent to bring Sarah unto him.

From verse 3, tej samej nocy means that same night, that very night. You read that God came to Abimelech in a dream that same night: przyszedł Bóg do Abimeleka we śnie (God came to Abimelech in a dream). In the remainder of the verse, you read that God says to Abimelech that he will die for he has taken a married woman. Work through this portion of text with the aid of the vocabulary listed above, if necessary.

Wersety 4-6

  • ukarać (pf.), to punish
  • śmierć (f.), death
  • niewinny, innocent, not guilty
  • prostota (f.), simplicity
  • serce (n.), heart
  • powstrzymać (pf.), to restrain, to hold back
  • dotknąć (pf.) się, to touch

Review: zbliżyć się (pf., to draw near), przecież (after all), brat (m., brother), ręka (f., hand), czysty (clean), wiedzieć (impf., to know), toteż (and so, therefore), wykroczenie (n., trangression, offence), przeciwko (against), dopuścić (pf., to permit, to let).

From these verses, it would be good to review the use of the instrumental in the following: ona jest moją siostrą (she is my sister) and on jest moim bratem (he is my brother). It may help if you considered the instrumental here as equating to the as of English: she is as my sister, he is as my brother.

From verse 4, understand: czy miałbyś także ukarać śmiercią ludzi niewinnych? (would you have to also punish with death innocent men?). The Polish for guilty is winny; its opposite, then — niewinny — means not guilty, innocent.

In these verses, Abimelech justifies his behaviour, and God states that he understands why he acted as he did. In verse 5, Abimelech says: uczyniłem to w prostocie serca i z rękami czystymi (I did this in the simplicity of [my] heart and with clean [innocent] hands).

In verse 6, God explains that, having known that Abimelech was not ill-intentioned, he disallowed Abimelech to transgress by touching Abraham’s wife. Work through the verse with the aid of the vocabulary listed above.

Wersety 7-9

  • zwrócić (pf.), to restore, to give back
  • prorok (m.) prophet
  • modlić (impf.) się, to pray
  • minąć (pf.), to go beyond, to leave behind
  • zwołać (pf.), to call together, to convene
  • opowiedzieć (pf.), to tell, to relate
  • przerazić (pf.) się, to be terrified
  • zawinić (pf.), to offend, to wrong
  • o mało, almost
  • doprowadzić (pf.), to bring about, to cause
  • powinien, ought, should

Review: człowiek (m., man; pl., ludzie), pozostać (pf., to remain, to stay), przy życiu (alive, let to live), na pewno (surely), bliski (m., near and dear person), nazajutrz (the following day), rano (in the morning), domownik (m., household member), wezwać (pf., to call in, to summon), poddany (m., subject), grzech (m., sin), postąpić (pf., to behave, to act), postępować (impf., to behave, to act).

God tells Abimelech, in verse 7, to return Sarah to Abraham: teraz więc zwróć żonę temu człowiekowi (now therefore return the wife to this man). He says that Abraham is a prophet: bo jest on prorokiem (for he is a prophet); note again the use of the instrumental here. God also says of Abraham: będzie się modlił za ciebie (he will pray for you, he will be praying for you).

In the remainder of verse 7, God says that if Abimelech does not return Sarah, he will surely die. Wiedz is the second-person singular imperative of the imperfective wiedzieć. You read: jeżeli zaś nie zwrócisz (if on the other hand you do not return [her]), wiedz, że na pewno nie minie śmierć ciebie (know that death will surely not pass over you) i wszystkich twoich bliskich (and all yours; and all those dear to you).

In verse 9, Abimelech asks Abraham: cóżeś nam uczynił? (what ever have you done to us?). He also asks him what offence he committed to earn such behaviour towards him. Cóż ci zawiniłem is to be understood as meaning what wrong did I do to you. In the final sentence of verse 9, you read: postąpiłeś ze mną tak, jak nie powinno się postępować (you have behaved towards me as one ought not to behave). Nie powinno się is to be understood as one ought not, one should not.

Wersety 10-13

  • bojaźń (f.), fear
  • zresztą, besides, in any case
  • mimo, in spite of, despite
  • kazać (impf.), to order, to command
  • wędrówka (f.), journeying, trekking
  • przysługa (f.), favour

Review: zapytać (pf., to ask), zamiar (m., intention), czynić (impf., to make, to do), odpowiedzieć (pf., to reply), myśleć (impf., to think), boży (divine, godly), zabić (pf., to kill), rzeczywiście (indeed, really), córka (f., daughter), ojciec (m., father), inny (different, other), matka (f., mother), zostać (pf., to become), wyruszyć (impf., to leave, to set out), dom (m., house, home), wyświadczyć (pf., to render, to show), dokąd (whereto), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come).

Abimelech asks Abraham, in verse 10, what his intention was: jaki miałeś zamiar (what intention were you having), czyniąc to (doing this)? In verse 11, Abraham replies: bo myślałem (for I was thinking): na pewno nie ma tu [u ludzi] bojaźni Bożej (surely here [amongst the people] there is not fear of God). He also mentions that he feared being killed on account of his wife.

In verse 12, Abraham explains that Sarah really is his sister (in fact, his half-sister); he tells Abimelech that they have the same father but a different mother. Understand: jest ona rzeczywiście moją siostrą (she is indeed my sister), jako córka ojca mego (as the daughter of my father), lecz innej matki (but of another mother).

From verse 13, wyruszyć na wędrówkę can be understood as to journey out (more literally perhaps, to set out in trekking). In the remainder of the verse, Abraham tells of the instructions that he had given Sarah regarding their relationship. Wyświadczysz mi przysługę can be understood as meaning you will do me the favour. As for gdy tam, dokąd przyjdziemy, this means when there where we shall arrive (that is, whenever we arrive somewhere). Będziesz mówiła do mnie is to be understood as you will say of me, you will be saying of me.

Wersety 14-18

  • dowód (m.), proof, evidence, token
  • bez (+ gen.), without
  • pomodlić (pf.) się, to pray
  • uzdrowić (pf.), to heal
  • niepłodność (f.), barrenness

Review: dać (pf., to give), owca (f., sheep), wół (m., ox), niewolnik (m., [male] slave, man servant), niewolnica (f., [female] slave, maidservant), kraj (m., land country), zamieszkać (pf., to settle), podobać się (impf., to appeal, to be pleasing), dawać (impf., to give), tysiąc (thousand), sztuka (f., unit, piece), srebro (n., silver), wina (f., guilt, fault, sin), wobec (before, in front of), potomstwo (n., offspring), dotknąć (impf., to afflict), łono (n., womb).

Work through these verses with the aid of the vocabulary listed above. From verse 15, understand: oto kraj mój przed tobą (behold my land before you): zamieszkaj, gdzie ci się podoba (settle wherever you like; literally, settle where it appeals to you). By this, Abimelech offers Abraham the possibility of dwelling wherever he likes in his land.

In verse 16, note the use of the genitive plural following tysiąc. In verse 18, dotknąć niepłodnością means to afflict with barrenness (that is, to render barren). Za Sarę can be understood as on account of Sarah, given that she had been taken into the house of Abimelech.

Recall that you have seen the adjectives płodny (fruitful, fertile) and niepłodny (barren), related to the feminine noun niepłodność found here; as you may have guessed, its opposite płodność means fertility, fruitfulness.