Polish language series: Rdz 30, nowy układ Jakuba

In your study of the Polish language, you have now reached the thirtieth chapter of the book of Genesis. In Rdz 30, you will study the Polish language as it relates to the following: nowy układ Jakuba z Labanem (Jacob’s new agreement with Laban).

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 30, 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Should the above links ever become unavailable, you will find an archived version of the text here.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 1-3

  • zazdrościć (impf.), to envy, to be jealous
  • rozgniewać (pf.) się, to get angry
  • odeprzeć (pf.), to retort
  • odmawiać (impf.), to refuse, to deny

Review: widzieć (impf., to see), potomstwo (n., offspring), siostra (f., sister), mąż (m., husband), sprawić (pf., to cause, to bring about), dziecko (n., child), inaczej (otherwise), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), umrzeć (pf., to die), powiedzieć (pf., to say, to tell), niewolnica (f., handmaid, maidservant), zbliżyć się (pf., to draw near), urodzić (pf., to bear), kolano (n., knee), chociaż (at least), w ten sposób (thus, in this manner).

In verse 1, you read that Rachel, barren, envied her sister: zazdrościła swej siostrze (she envied her sister, she was jealous of her sister). She tells Jacob: spraw, abym miała dzieci (make it so that I have children). Rachel stresses the necessity of her having children by saying: bo inaczej przyjdzie mi umrzeć (for otherwise it will come upon me to die).

Angry, Jacob makes a retort in verse 2. Odparł is the masculine, third-person singular of the past tense of the perfective verb odeprzeć, meaning to retort. Jacob reminds Rachel that it is God who decides such matters: czyż to ja, a nie Bóg (do I, and not God), odmawiam ci potomstwa? (deny you offspring?; that is, is it me rather than God who denies you offspring?).

In verse 3, Rachel tells Jacob to produce offspring for her through her maidservant Bilhah. She says: zbliż się do niej (draw near to her; that is, have relations with her), aby urodziła dzieci na moich kolanach (in order that she bear children on my knees). You may wish to review the declension of Polish possessive pronouns.

Wersety 4-8

  • znowu, again, once more
  • nadludzki, superhuman, great
  • zwyciężyć (pf.), to win, to prevail

Review: żona (f., wife), począć (pf., to conceive), sędzia (m., judge), otoczyć (pf., to surround), opieka (f., care), wysłuchać (pf., to hear), nazwać (pf., to call), drugi (second), syn (m., son), walka (f., combat, struggle, fight), wieść (impf., to lead), przeto (consequently), imię (n., name).

Verse 4: dać za żonę (to give as wife); Jacob entered into concubinage with Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah.

Verse 6: jako sędzia (as judge). Bilhah conceives and gives birth to a son, whom Rachel names Dan; she then gives birth to a second son (verse 7), whom Rachel names Neftali.

From verse 8, understand Rachel’s words: nadludzką walkę wiodłam (I led [was leading] a great [superhuman] fight) z siostrą moją (against [with] my sister) i zwyciężyłam (and I have prevailed). Nadludzki is a compound of nad (over) + the adjective ludzki (human).

Of the imperfective wieść, familiarise yourself with the masculine and feminine of the past tense:

(masculine)
wiodłem (1.ps)
wiodłeś (2.ps)
wiódł (3.ps)
wiedliśmy (1.pp)
wiedliście (2.pp)
wiedli (3.pp)

(feminine)
wiodłam (1.ps)
wiodłaś (2.ps)
wiodła (3.ps)
wiodłyśmy (1.pp)
wiodłyście (2.pp)
wiodły (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Wersety 9-13

  • zwać (impf.), to call

Review: przestać (pf., to stop, to desist), rodzić (impf., to bear), wziąć (pf., to take), zawołać (pf., to call out, to exclaim), szczęśliwie (fortunately), szczęście (n., fortune), kobieta (f., woman), szczęśliwy (fortunate).

Now Leah does the same as did Rachel; having stopped giving birth, she gives her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob. Two sons are born: Gad and Aser. Verse 11: szczęśliwie (fortunately; with fortune). Verse 13: na moje szczęście (fortunately for me; literally, to my fortune); bo kobiety będą mnie zwały szczęśliwą (for women will call me fortunate).

Wersety 14-16

  • żąć (impf.), to reap, to harvest
  • pszenica (f.), wheat
  • mandragora (f.), mandrake

Review: pewien (a, certain, one), raz (m., time), wyjść (pf., to go out), pole (n., field), znaleźć (pf., to find), przynieść (pf., to bring), matka (f., mother), dość (enough), zabrać (pf., to take), chcieć (impf., to want), spać (impf., to sleep), wracać (impf., to return, to come back), wieczór (m., evening), naprzeciw (before, opposite), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), nabyć (pf., to buy, to obtain).

Verse 14: pewnego razu (one time, once; that is, on a certain occasion); wyszedłszy na pole (having gone out to the field); gdy żęto pszenicę (when one harvested the wheat; impersonal past); znalazł mandragory (he found mandrakes); przyniósł je swej matce (he brought them to his mother). Reuben finds mandrakes and gives them to his mother Leah; Rachel asks Leah to hand over the mandrakes.

Of the perfective znaleźć, familiarise yourself with the masculine and feminine of the past tense:

(masculine)
znalazłem (1.ps)
znalazłeś (2.ps)
znalazł (3.ps)
znaleźliśmy (1.pp)
znaleźliście (2.pp)
znaleźli (3.pp)

(feminine)
znalazłam (1.ps)
znalazłaś (2.ps)
znalazła (3.ps)
znalazłyśmy (1.pp)
znalazłyście (2.pp)
znalazły (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Familiarise yourself also with the masculine and feminine of the past tense of the perfective przynieść:

(masculine)
przyniosłem (1.ps)
przyniosłeś (2.ps)
przyniósł (3.ps)
przynieśliśmy (1.pp)
przynieśliście (2.pp)
przynieśli (3.pp)

(feminine)
przyniosłam (1.ps)
przyniosłaś (2.ps)
przyniosła (3.ps)
przyniosłyśmy (1.pp)
przyniosłyście (2.pp)
przyniosły (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

In verse 15, Leah says to Rachel: czyż nie dość (is it not enough), że mi zabrałaś mego męża (that you have taken from me my husband), i jeszcze chcesz zabrać mandragory mego syna? (and you want yet to take my son’s mandrakes?; that is, and now you also want to take my son’s mandrakes?).

Of the imperfective chcieć, learn the present tense:

chcę (1.ps)
chcesz (2.ps)
chce (3.ps)
chcemy (1.pp)
chcecie (2.pp)
chcą (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Still in verse 15, Rachel responds to Leah’s words: niechaj więc śpi z tobą tej nocy (may he then sleep with you tonight) za mandragory twego syna (in exchange for your son’s mandrakes). Śpi is the third-person singular of the present tense of the imperfective spać.

Verse 16: wieczorem (in the evening); wyszła Lea naprzeciw niego (Leah came out before [in front of] him). Leah tells Jacob to come unto her for she has hired him in exchange for her son’s mandrakes. Jacob has relations with her: spał z nią owej nocy (he slept [was sleeping] with her that night).

You may wish to consult this list of Polish prepositions, such as naprzeciw from verse 16, and review the grammatical case taken by each.

Wersety 17-24

  • wspaniały, magnificent, excellent
  • dar (m.), gift
  • pierwszeństwo (n.), precedence
  • zlitować (pf.) się, to take pity
  • hańba (f.), shame, disgrace
  • westchnąć (pf.), to sigh
  • oby, would to God, let us hope, may

Review: spełnić (pf., to fulfil, to accomplish), pragnienie (n., desire), piąty (fifth), nagroda (f., reward), oddać (pf., to yield, to grant), nazwać (pf., to call), obdarować (pf., to endow, to bestow), wreszcie (finally), córka (f., daughter), wysłuchać (pf., to hear), otworzyć (pf., to open), łono (n., womb), zdjąć (pf., to take away), dodać (pf., to add).

Leah, by way of her maidservant, has her fifth and sixth sons, named Issachar and Zabulon. You may wish to review Polish ordinal numbers, such as piąty and szósty from these verses. She also has a daughter, who is named Dina.

In verse 20, Leah says: obdarował mnie Bóg wspaniałym darem (God has bestowed me with a magnificent gift), teraz będę już miała pierwszeństwo u mego męża (now I shall take precedence with my husband), gdyż urodziłam mu sześciu synów (for I have born unto him six sons). The neuter noun pierwszeństwo means precedence, priority; mieć pierwszeństwo can be understood as to take precedence, to take priority.

Verse 22: Bóg zlitował się i nad Rachelą (God took pity on Rachel); otworzył jej łono (he opened her womb). The womb is imagined as being closed; it is God who opens it during intercourse (to allow for conception) and at the time of delivery (to allow the baby to be born).

Verse 23: zdjął Bóg ze mnie hańbę (God has taken the disgrace away from me).

Verse 24: Rachel names her son Józef. She then says: oby Pan dodał mi jeszcze drugiego syna (may the Lord add to me yet a second son).

Wersety 25-28

  • odgadnąć (pf.,), to guess
  • dzięki (+ dat.), thanks to
  • ustalić (pf.), to set

Review: zwolnić (pf., to relieve, to release), wrócić (pf., to return), mieszkać (impf., to live, to dwell), pozwolić (pf., to permit, to let), zabrać (pf., to take), służyć (impf., to serve), odejść (pf., to leave, to depart), wiedzieć (impf., to know), dobrze (well), odpowiedzieć (pf., to reply), darzyć (impf., to grant, to bestow), życzliwość (f., kindness), błogosławić (impf., to bless), dodać (pf., to add), zapłata (f., payment, wages).

Jacob requests that Laban release him now that he has completed his service. He asks to leave with his wives and children.

Verse 26: wiesz dobrze, jak ci służyłem (you know well how I have served you).

Of the imperfective wiedzieć, learn the present tense:

wiem (1.ps)
wiesz (2.ps)
wie (3.ps)
wiemy (1.pp)
wiecie (2.pp)
wiedzą (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Verse 27: obyś mnie darzył życzliwością (may you bestow me with kindness); odgadłem bowiem, że Pan błogosławił mi dzięki tobie (for I have guessed [that is; for I conjecture] that the Lord blessed me [was blessing me] thanks to you).

Verse 28: ustal mi twoją zapłatę (set me your wage), a ja ci ją dam (and I shall give it to you).

Of the verb dać, review the perfective future:

dam (1.ps)
dasz (2.ps)
da (3.ps)
damy (1.pp)
dacie (2.pp)
dadzą (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Wersety 29-32

  • pomnożyć (pf.) się, to multiply oneself
  • zatroszczyć (pf.) się, to attend to
  • opiekować (impf.) się, to care for, to look after
  • obejść (pf.), to inspect, to pass through
  • cętkowany, speckled, spotted
  • pstry, spotted, speckled
  • czarny, black
  • koza (f.), goat (female)

Review: sam (alone), dobytek (m., livestock; possessions), niewiele (not much, little), zanim (before), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), odkąd (since), musieć (impf., to have to, to be obligated to), rodzina (f., family), uczynić (pf., to do, to make), powiedzieć (pf., to say, to tell), nadal (as before), paść (impf., to feed, to pasture), stado (n., herd, flock), dzisiaj (today), wybrać (pf., to take out), jagnię (n., lamb, kid), spośród (from amongst), owca (f., sheep), koźlę (n., kid, young goat).

A new agreement is established between Jacob and Laban. These verses do no present anything particularly challenging in the grammar; the vocabulary, however, may present a certain challenge. With the aid of the vocabulary listed above, and the additional notes below, work your way through these verses.

Verse 30: miałeś bowiem niewiele, zanim przyszedłem (you had [were having] little before I arrived); odkąd zaś tu jestem (whereas since I have been here), pomnożył się on bardzo (it has increased greatly); muszę się zatroszczyć i o moją rodzinę (I must attend to my family).

Verse 31: cóż więc mam ci dać? (what must I give you?); nic mi nie dasz (you will not give me anything); uczyń mi tylko to, co ci powiem (do unto me only that which I shall say); będę nadal pasł twe stada (I shall feed your flocks as before); będę się nimi opiekował (I shall look after them).

In verse 32, Jacob says that he will pass through the flocks to separate all the speckled, spotted and black lambs from amongst the sheep, and all the spotted and speckled kids from amongst the goats: obejdę dzisiaj (I shall pass through today) wszystkie twe stada (all your flocks) i wybiorę z nich dla siebie (and I shall take out from them for myself) wszystkie jagnięta cętkowane, pstre i czarne (all the speckled, spotted and black lambs) spośród owiec (amongst the sheep) oraz koźlęta pstre i cętkowane (as well as the spotted and speckled kids) spośród kóz (amongst the she-goats). The verse ends with Jacob’s saying that those removed animals shall be his pay: niech one będą moją zapłatą (let them be my wages).

Mention should be made here of why Jacob wanted the parti-coloured animals. Sheep were generally white, and goats black or brown. Jacob proposed taking the young of these animals not fitting this pattern. As such, in the case of lost animals, disputes would be avoided in the future between them, as it would be clear to whom the animal belonged: if the sheep or goats were spotted or speckled, or if the sheep were black, they were Jacob’s; otherwise, they belonged to Laban. A distinction is to be made between spotted and speckled in the context of these verses: the spotted animals would have had larger patches on them, whereas the speckled animals would have been covered in smaller dots (source).

Wersety 33-36

  • uczciwość (f.), honesty, integrity
  • należeć (impf.) się, to be owing
  • skraść (pf.), to steal
  • kozioł (m.), goat (male)
  • sierść (f.), coat, fur
  • odległość (f.), distance
  • trzeba, one should, one ought
  • ciąg (m.), duration, course

Review: przekonać się (pf., to ascertain), przyjść (pf., to arrive, to come), obejrzeć (pf., to look, to inspect, to examine), uważać (impf., to consider), oddzielić (pf., to separate), cokolwiek (whatever, everything that), biały (white), ponadto (furthermore), wyznaczyć (pf., to fix, to assign), przejść (pf., to pass [through]), paść (impf., to feed, to pasture), pozostały (remaining).

Verse 33: po pewnym czasie (after a certain time); gdy bowiem przyjdziesz, aby obejrzeć to, co będzie mi się należało jako zapłata (for when you will come to see what will be owing to me as wages); możesz uważać za skradzione przeze mnie (you can consider as stolen by me).

Of the verb przyjść, learn the perfective future:

przyjdę (1.ps)
przyjdziesz (2.ps)
przyjdzie (3.ps)
przyjdziemy (1.pp)
przyjdziecie (2.pp)
przyjdą (3.pp)

1.ps = first-person singular
1.pp = first-person plural, etc.

Verse 35: tego samego dnia (on that same day). Note the use of both the masculine kozioł (male goat) and feminine koza (female goat): Laban oddzielił wszystkie kozły cętkowane i pstre (Laban separated all the speckled and spotted billygoats) oraz wszystkie kozy cętkowane i pstre (as well as all the speckled and spotted she-goats).

Verse 36: w ciągu (during, in the course of); trzeba było (one ought to have). You read of Laban: ponadto wyznaczył odległość (furthermore he fixed a distance), jaką trzeba było przejść w ciągu trzech dni (as one ought to have passed through in the course of three days) pomiędzy sobą a Jakubem (between him and Jacob). In other words, Laban set a distance of three days’ journey between him and Jacob.

Wersety 37-39

  • nazbierać (pf.), to gather
  • świeży, fresh
  • gałązka (f.), small branch
  • topola (f.), poplar
  • migdałowy, almond
  • platan (m.), plane
  • pozdzierać (impf.), to peel, to tear away
  • kora (f.), bark
  • prążek (m.), stripe
  • ostrugać (pf.), to peel
  • patyk (m.), stick
  • umocować (pf.), to fasten, to secure
  • poidło (n.), watering trough
  • przychodzić (impf.), to arrive, to come
  • parzyć (impf.) się, to mate, to pair
  • wskutek (+ gen.), on account of
  • przychówek (m.), young (livestock)
  • prążkowy, striped

Review: drzewo (n., tree), ukazać się (pf., to appear), koryto (m., trough), woda (f., water), widzieć (impf., to see), trzoda (f., herd, flock), pić (impf., to drink), zwierzę (n., animal), dawać (impf., to give), sierść (f., coat, fur).

Verse 37: Gałązka (small branch; twig) is the diminutive of gałąź (f., branch); Jakub nazbierał sobie świeżych gałązek (Jacob gathered unto himself fresh, [small] branches) topoli, drzewa migdałowego i platanu (of poplar, almond and plane trees; literally, of poplar, almond tree and plane). Jacob then peels the branches: pozdzierał z nich korę (he peeled the bark from them) w taki sposób, że (in such a way that) ukazały się na nich białe prążki (white stripes appeared in them).

Verse 38: tak ostrugane patyki (the sticks thus peeled; peeled in this way the sticks). Jacob positioned the peeled sticks by the watering troughs so that the animals would see them when they came to drink and mate. Also: gdy bowiem zwierzęta przychodziły pić wodę, parzyły się (for when the animals arrived [were arriving] to drink water, they would mate [were mating]). By placing these striped branches in front of the animals, Jacob hoped to have them produce parti-coloured offspring (source).

Verse 39: wskutek tego (on account of this, because of this); zwierzęta (…) dawały przychówek o sierści prążkowej, pstrej i cętkowanej (the animals gave; produced [were giving; producing] young of striped, spotted and speckled coats).

Wersety 40-43

  • pędzić (impf.), to drive
  • przodem, ahead
  • osobno, separately, apart
  • łączyć (impf.), to join, to unite
  • umieszczać (impf.), to place, to put
  • ponacinany, streaked
  • widoczny, visible
  • mocny, strong, robust
  • dostać (pf.) się, to fall, to be taken

Review: trzymać (impf., to hold, to keep), miejsce (n., place, spot), sztuka (f., unit, head [of cattle]), słaby (weak), kłaść (impf., to put, to set), stać się (pf., to become), człowiek (m., man), zamożny (wealthy), licny (numerous), niewolnica (f., maidservant), sługa (m., manservant), wielbłąd (m., camel), osioł (m., donkey, ass).

Jacob ensures that his breed would be robust by placing the streaked branches in front of only the strong animals when they conceived. He did not place the branches in front of the feeble when they conceived, so as to avoid having them produce streaked offspring; their normally coloured offspring would thus fall to Laban.

Verse 40: Jacob separates the white sheep, after which: pędził je przodem przed pstrymi i czarnymi (he drove them ahead before the spotted and speckled). Also: dla siebie zaś trzymał stada osobno (whereas for himself he kept [held] his flocks apart); nie łącząc ich ze stadami Labana (not joining them with the flocks of Laban).

Verse 41: a przy tym (in addition to this). In this verse, you read that Jacob placed the streaked branches before only the robust animals: Jakub umieszczał owe ponacinane patyki (Jacob placed those streaked sticks) na widocznym miejscu (in a visible place) przy poidłach (near the watering troughs) tylko wtedy, gdy miały się parzyć sztuki mocne (only then when the robust ones would mate). Sztuka here refers to an individual animal.

When the animals were feeble, Jacob did not expose the branches. In verse 42, you read: gdy zaś owce były słabe (whereas when the sheep were weak), patyków nie kładł (he did not put [was not putting] the sticks). In the remainder of the verse, you read that this was how Jacob devised getting the best, most robust specimens: w ten sposób (in this manner) sztuki słabe (the weak ones) miały się dostać Labanowi (would fall to Laban) a mocne — Jakubowi (and the strong [ones] to Jacob). It is in this way, as you read in verse 43, that Jacob became very wealthy.