Polish language series: Rdz 38, Juda i Tamar

In Rdz 38, or the Polish version of the thirty-eighth chapter of the book of Genesis, you will read about Judah and Tamar (Juda i Tamar).

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Read Rdz 38

To read the Polish text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Biblia Tysiąclecia and consult Rdz 38. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Wersety 1-5

  • zajść (pf.), to drop in, to turn in
  • nastąpić (pf.), to take place

Review: czas (m., time), opuścić (pf., to leave), brat (m., brother), wędrować (impf., to journey, to trek), ku (+ dat., towards), dolina (f., valley), pewien (a, one, certain), mieszkaniec (m., inhabitant), miasto (n., town, city), imię (n., name), ujrzeć (pf., to see), córka (f., daughter), nosić (impf., to bear), wziąć za żonę (pf., to take as wife), zbliżyć się (pf., to draw near, to come unto), począć (pf., to conceive), urodzić (pf., to bear), syn (m., son), dać (pf., to give), jeszcze raz (one more time), nazwać (pf., to name, to call), znów (again), poród (m., birth, delivery).

Verse 1: w owym czasie (at that time). In this first verse of the chapter, you read that Judah left his brothers, journeyed towards the Hebron valley (only “valley” is mentioned in the text) and went unto (zaszedł do, called in at, dropped in at) a man named Hirah (imieniem Chira, by the name of Hirah), who lived in Adullam. You may wish to review the declension of the masculine brat:

Declension of brat (m.)

sing. pl.
nom. brat bracia
gen. brata braci
dat. bratu braciom
acc. brata braci
instr. bratem braćmi
loc. bracie braciach
voc. bracie bracia

Verse 2: Kananejczyk (m., Canaanite). Judah sees the daughter of a certain Canaanite named Szua (Shuah). Understand: pewnego Kananejczyka (of a certain Canaanite), noszącego imię Szua (bearing the name Shuah); note that noszącego is in the genitive, connecting it with the genitive pewnego Kananejczyka — Shuah, then, is a man’s name; it is not the name of the daughter. Judah marries Shuah’s daughter (her name is not given) and has intimate relations with her; recall that, in this context, zbliżył się do niej (he drew near to her; he came unto her) refers to sexual intercourse.

Verses 3-5: Judah’s wife conceives three times and bears three sons. Review: poczęła (she conceived), urodziła syna (she bore a son). The first son is named Er (któremu dano imię Er, unto whom one gave the name Er), the second is named Onan (nazwała go Onan, she named him Onan) and the third is named Shelah (dała mu imię Szela, she gave him the name Shelah). From verse 5, ten jej poród means this birth of hers and refers to the third birth which took place in Kezib (Chezib).

Wersety 6-11

  • dopełnić (pf.), to perform
  • obowiązek (m.), duty
  • szwagier (m.), brother-in-law
  • ilekroć, whenever, every time
  • unikać (impf.), to avoid, to escape
  • zapłodnienie (n.), fertilisation
  • synowa (f.), daughter-in-law
  • wdowa (f.), widow

Review: pierworodny (firstborn), ponieważ (given that), oko (n., eye), zły (evil), zesłać (pf., to send down [from heaven]), śmierć (f., death), iść (impf., to go), potomstwo (n., offspring), sprawić (pf., to cause, to bring about), zbliżać się (impf., to draw near, to come unto), czynić (impf., to do, to make), zamieszkać (pf., to settle), dom (m., house), ojciec (m., father), dorosnąć (pf., to grow [up]), myśleć (impf., to think), umrzeć (pf., to die), również (also), odejść (pf., to leave, to depart).

In verses 6 and 7, you read that Judah’s firstborn son Er was evil in the sight of the Lord: w oczach Pana (in the eyes of the Lord); the Lord thus killed him: Pan zesłał na niego śmierć (the Lord sent death down to him). Er’s wife was called Tamar.

Judah, in verse 9, tells his second son Onan to fulfil his responsibilities as brother-in-law to Tamar: idź do żony twego brata (go to the wife of your brother) i dopełnij z nią obowiązku szwagra (and perform with her a brother-in-law’s duty). In doing so, Judah says, his brother Er would have offspring: a tak sprawisz, że twój brat będzie miał potomstwo (and thus you will bring about that your brother will have offspring). Review the present tense of the imperfective iść, and consider also its imperative forms:

Present tense

idę (1.ps)
idziesz (2.ps)
idzie (3.ps)
idziemy (1.pp)
idziecie (2.pp)
idą (3.pp)

Imperative

idź (2.ps)
niech idzie (3.ps)
idźmy (1.pp)
idźcie (2.pp)
niech idą (3.pp)

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

Verse 9: Onan wiedząc, że potomstwo nie będzie jego (Onan, seeing that the offspring will not be his); that is, the firstborn son would not be called a son of his but of his brother Er. As such, Onan used to spill his seed so as not to impregnate Tamar: ilekroć zbliżał się do żony swego brata (every time that he used to draw near to the wife of his brother), unikał zapłodnienia (he used to avoid fertilisation). Note that you find here the imperfective zbliżać się, whereas in verse 2 it was rather the perfective zbliżyć się.

Compare:

zbliżył się do niej (perfective)
he drew near to her

zbliżał się do niej (imperfective)
he was drawing near to her
he used to draw near to her

English does not always employ the imperfective when Polish does; whereas in Polish an imperfective might be used, English may more naturally employ the perfective, but with the sense of the imperfective understood through context. For example, he went there every day employs the perfective, but the imperfective is understood (he was going there every day, he used to go there every day, he kept going there every day, etc.).

In the remainder of verse 9, you read: aby nie dać potomstwa swemu bratu (in order to not give any offspring to his brother).

In verse 10, you read that Onan was killed by God for the spilling of his seed, which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Then, in verse 11, Judah tells Tamar to live as widow until his son Shelah is older: zamieszkaj jako wdowa w domu twego ojca (settle as a widow in the house of your father) aż do czasu, gdy dorośnie mój syn Szela (until the time when my son Shelah will grow up). Also: niech nie umrze on (may he not die).

Wersety 12-15

  • strata (f.), loss
  • teść (m.), father-in-law
  • otulić (pf.) się, to wrap oneself up
  • szczelnie, tightly
  • zasłona (f.) veil
  • zasłonięty, veiled

Review: wiele (many, a lot of), rok (m., year), umrzeć (pf., to die), zapomnieć (pf., to forget), nieco (a little, somewhat), udać się (pf., to go, to proceed), przyjaciel (m., friend), strzyc (impf., to shear), owca (f., sheep), powiedzieć (pf., to say), zdjąć (pf., to take off), szata (f., garment), wdowa (f., widow), usiąść (pf., to sit down), brama (f., gate), miasto (n., town, city), leżeć (impf., to lie), droga (f., way, road), wiedzieć (impf., to know), choć (although), dorosnąć (pf., to grow [up]), ujrzeć (pf., to see), pomyśleć (pf., to think), nierządnica (f., harlot), twarz (f., face).

Verse 12: po wielu latach (after many years); zapomniawszy nieco o swej stracie (having forgotten somewhat about his loss); wraz ze swym przyjacielem (along with his friend); gdzie strzyżono jego owce (where one was shearing his sheep; where his sheep were being sheared). Also: Adullamita (m., Adullamite; that is, an inhabitant of Adullam; see verse 1); Timna (Timnath).

Declension of rok (m.)

sing. pl.
nom. rok lata
gen. roku lat
dat. rokowi latom
acc. rok lata
instr. rokiem latami
loc. roku latach
voc. roku lata

Declension of owca (f.)

sing. pl.
nom. owca owce
gen. owcy owiec
dat. owcy owcom
acc. owcę owce
instr. owcą owcami
loc. owcy owcach
voc. owco owce

Verse 13: a gdy powiedziano Tamar (and when one said to Tamar; and when it was said to Tamar).

Verse 14: zdjęła (she took off); otuliwszy się szczelnie zasłoną (having wrapped herself up tightly with a veil). Tamar goes and sits near the gate of Enaim to prostitute herself; she covers her face as was customary amongst harlots. Of the gate, you read: które leżało przy drodze do Timny (which was lying by the way to Timnath). The final sentence of this verse is to be understood as follows: wiedziała bowiem (for she was knowing [that is, for she understood, for she recognised]), że choć Szela już dorósł (that although Shelah already grew up [that is, had already grown up]), nie ona będzie mu dana za żonę (she will not [that is, she would not] be given to him as wife).

Verse 15: Judah sees Tamar and takes her for a harlot because her face was covered. You first encountered nierządnica in Rdz 34:31.

Wersety 16-19

  • skręcić (pf.), to turn
  • przysłać (pf.), to send
  • koźlątko (n.), (little) kid, goatling
  • zastaw (m.), pledge, deposit
  • sygnet (m.), signet ring
  • sznur (m.), cord
  • przywdziać (pf.), to put on
  • wdowi, (relating to a) widow

Review: pozwolić (pf., to permit, to let), wiedzieć (impf., to know), synowa (f., daughter-in-law), zapytać (pf., to ask), powiedzieć (pf., to say), stado (n., herd), jakiś (some), dopóki (until), laska (f., staff, rod), ręka (f., hand), stać się (pf., to become), brzemienny (pregnant), wstać (pf., to arise, to get up), odejść (pf., to leave, to depart), zdjąć (pf., to take off), zasłona (f., veil), szata (f., garment).

Judah asks to lie with Tamar without knowing her identity. In verse 16, Tamar says to Judah: co mi dasz za to, że się zbliżysz do mnie? (what will you give me in exchange for coming unto me?; literally, what will you give me for this, that you will come unto me?).

Familiarise yourself with the masculine and feminine of the past tense of the imperfective wiedzieć:

(masculine)
wiedziałem (1.ps)
wiedziałeś (2.ps)
wiedział (3.ps)
wiedzieliśmy (1.pp)
wiedzieliście (2.pp)
wiedzieli (3.pp)

(feminine)
wiedziałam (1.ps)
wiedziałaś (2.ps)
wiedziała (3.ps)
wiedziałyśmy (1.pp)
wiedziałyście (2.pp)
wiedziały (3.pp)

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

Verse 17: Judah offers Tamar a kid from the herd; koźlątko is the diminutive of the neuter koźlę. Tamar asks for some sort of pledge (that is, a deposit to confirm his intention to send a kid): ale dasz jakiś zastaw, dopóki nie przyślesz (but you will give some pledge until you will send [it]).

Verse 18: jakiż zastaw mam ci dać? (what pledge must I give you?). Tamar asks for his signet, cord and staff. The signet ring would have been worn around his neck on a cord. You read that Judah gives the requested items to her; they lie together and Tamar conceives: stała się przez niego brzemienną (she became pregnant by him).

After her encounter with Judah, Tamar leaves, removes the veil and puts her widow garments back on (verse 19). Understand: przywdziała swe szaty wdowie (she put on her widow garments); you are dealing here with the adjective wdowi.

(nominative)
szata wdowia (widow garment)
szaty wdowie (widow garments)

(accusative)
przywdziała swą (swoją) szatę wdowią
przywdziała swe (swoje) szaty wdowie

Review the declension of Polish possessive pronouns.

Wersety 20-23

  • tamtejszy, local, of the place
  • sakralny, sacral, consecrated
  • zatrzymać (pf.), to retain, to keep
  • narazić (pf.) się, to expose oneself
  • kpina (f.), mockery, ridicule, scoffing

Review: posłać (pf., to send), koźlątko (n., kid, goatling), przyjaciel (m., friend), odebrać (pf., to take away, to get), zastaw (m., pledge, deposit), kobieta (f., woman), znaleźć (pf., to find), pytać (impf., to ask), zatem (therefore), mieszkaniec (m., inhabitant), nierządnica (f., harlot), siedzieć (impf., to sit, to be seated), droga (f., way, road), odpowiedzieć (pf., to reply), wrócić (pf., to return), oby (would to God, may).

Verse 20: przez swego przyjaciela Adullamitę (by [way of] his friend the Adullamite); aby odebrać zastaw od owej kobiety (in order to get [back] the pledge from that woman).

Verse 21: nierządnica sakralna (consecrated harlot); the Adullamite asks the men of the place where in Enaim he can find the harlot who was sitting by the way. The residents respond: nie było tu nierządnicy sakralnej (there was not any consecrated harlot here).

Verse 23: niech sobie zatrzyma (let her retain [it] unto herself; that is, let her keep it); Judah prefers the pledge remain with her rather than, by making enquiries, expose themselves to ridicule: obyśmy się tylko nie narazili na kpiny (may we only not expose ourselves to scoffings). Remainder of verse: posłałem jej koźlątko (I sent the kid to her); nie mogłeś jej znaleźć (you could not find her).

Wersety 24-26

  • około, around, about
  • czyn (m.), deed
  • nierządny, debaucherous
  • spalić (pf.), to burn
  • przedmiot (m.), object, article, thing
  • pieczęć (f.), seal
  • sprawiedliwszy, more righteous

Review: miesiąc (m., month), donieść (pf., to inform), synowa (f., daughter-in-law), nawet (even), powód (m., cause, reason), wyprowadzić (pf., to bring forth), wyprowadzać (impf., to bring forth), posłać (pf., to send), teść (m., father-in-law), kazać (impf., to order, to command), powiedzieć (pf., to say), mężczyzna (m., man), należeć (impf., to belong), dodać (pf., to add), rozpoznać (pf., to recognise, to discern), czyje (whose), sygnet (m., signet), sznur (m., cord), laska (f., staff, rod), poznać (pf., to recognise, to know), bo przecież (for after all, because), chcieć (impf., to want), już więcej (no more), żyć (impf., to have relations).

Verse 24: po około trzech miesiącach (after about three months) doniesiono Judzie (one informed Judah; it was informed unto Judah). What is told to Judah is that his daughter-in-law Tamar had become a harlot and even fallen pregnant by way of her debauchery: z powodu czynów nierządnych (on account of the debaucherous deeds). Judah calls for her to be brought forth and burnt: wyprowadźcie ją i spalcie (bring her forth and burn [her]).

Verse 25: a gdy ją wyprowadzano (and when one was bringing her forth; and when she was being brought forth). So as not to bring public shame upon Judah, Tamar sends unto her father-in-law to reveal that the harlot was in fact her: posłała do swego teścia (she sent unto her father-in-law) i kazała powiedzieć (and had be said [and ordered to say]). Also: przez tego mężczyznę (by [way of] this man), do którego te przedmioty należą (unto whom these articles belong); niechaj rozpozna, czyje są (may he discern whose they are).

Verse 26: ona jest sprawiedliwsza ode mnie (she is more righteous than me); Juda już więcej z nią nie żył (Judah was no longer having [sexual] relations with her). You encountered another example of żyć used in the sense of to have (sexual) relations in Rdz 26:10.

sprawiedliwysprawiedliwszynajsprawiedliwszy
sprawiedliwasprawiedliwszanajsprawiedliwsza
righteousmore righteousmost righteous

Familiarise yourself with the imperfective past tense of chcieć, in its masculine and feminine forms:

(masculine)
chciałem (1.ps)
chciałeś (2.ps)
chciał (3.ps)
chcieliśmy (1.pp)
chcieliście (2.pp)
chcieli (3.pp)

(feminine)
chciałam (1.ps)
chciałaś (2.ps)
chciała (3.ps)
chciałyśmy (1.pp)
chciałyście (2.pp)
chciały (3.pp)

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

Wersety 27-30

  • okazać (pf.) się, to turn out
  • rączka (f.), (little) hand
  • zawiązać (pf.), to tie, to bind
  • tasiemka (f.), ribbon
  • cofnąć (pf.), to draw back
  • przedrzeć (pf.) się, to break forth
  • przejście (n.), passage

Review: nadejść (pf., to approach, to come), czas (m., time), poród (m., birth, delivery), bliźnię (n., twin), zacząć (pf., to start, to begin), rodzić (impf., to give birth), dziecko (n., child), wyciągnąć (pf., to extend), położna (f., midwife), czerwony (red), urodzić się (pf., to be born), pierwszy (first), wyjść (pf., to come out, to exit), łono (n., womb), brat (m., brother), powiedzieć (pf., to say), dlaczego (why, what for), dać (pf., to give), imię (n., name), nazwać (pf., to name).

With the aid of the vocabulary listed above, work your way through these final verses of the chapter. Note the following:

Verse 28: jedno z dzieci (one of the children); the neuter jedno is used because dziecko is a neuter noun. As for rączka, this is the diminutive form of ręka (f., hand).

Verse 30: po nim (after him); na którego rączce (on the little hand of whom).