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Explaining Romanian Grammar in Matthew 2:20

If you have been following the blogs about the Romanian grammar in Matthew, you will know that we have talked about a lot of prophecies that were fulfilled around the time of Jesus’ birth. You will also know that Joseph got up and took off for Egypt with Mary and Joseph at the prompting of an angel who visited his dream warning him that King Herod was trying to kill Jesus. King Herod didn’t kill Jesus, but history records that he actually did kill all the baby boys two years old and under in the area around Bethlehem and Jerusalem. He was busy trying to protect his throne and it caused him to commit mass murder. The prophets knew this would happen too. Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15 (written between 730-580 B. C.) where Jeremiah says that the children of the Hebrew mothers would be killed and the mothers would be crying so bad they couldn’t be comforted. Jesus was born in 4 B. C., so this killing of babies happened while he was still a toddler, but Jesus was safe because Joseph had taken him to Egypt. The Bible isn’t clear about exactly how long Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt, but while they were in Egypt, Joseph had another dream. An angel was in his dream again. It seems that Joseph dreamed a lot about angels.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I think it would behoove us a little to stop and ask ourselves what exactly was happening to Joseph. What is an angel? The book of Hebrews helps us to answer this question. Hebrew 1:7 says, “In speaking of the angels, He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.” Again in Hebrews 1:14, it says, “Are not angels ministering spirits to serve those who will inherit salvation.” Looking at these verses, I get the feeling that “wind and flames of fire” are natural occurrences, and when Joseph went to sleep, it was a natural occurrence. Think about it. Have you ever gone to sleep thinking about a problem and you weren’t sure of the answer, but you woke up the next day with the answer. That is what we call, “sleeping on it,” so what happened to Joseph felt natural to him. The verses in Hebrews also say angels are spirits sent to minister to us, or help us. God was helping Joseph sort through his problems in his sleep. Joseph dreaming of angels is not really as strange as it sounds. Now that we have a better idea what was happening to Joseph, we are ready for verse 20 of Matthew 2 because it tells us what the angel told Joseph in his dream when he was in Egypt.

Erau in Egipt. (They were in Egypt.)Photo by Alexis Azabache on Pexels.com

Matei 2:20: si-i zice: ,,Scoala-te, ia Puruncul si pe mama Lui si du-te in tara lui Israel, caci au murit cei ce cautau sa ia viata Pruncului.”

si-i zice: = “And he tells him.” “Si” should have a comma attached to the bottom of the “s.” When there is a comma on the bottom of an “s,” it is an “sh” sound in English. “Si” means “and,” and is pronounced like the word “she.”* “Si-i” is a contraction of “si” and “il.” The word “il” is an indirect object pronoun that is used before the verb that means “to him.” “Zice” comes from “a zice.” “A zice” means “to say” or “to tell.” “Zice” is simple present tense third person singular, and the pronoun embedded in it is “he” (el). “Zice” is pronounced “zeechay.” Whenever there is an “e” after a “c” in Romanian, the “c” becomes the English “ch.” When you see just a simple “i” in Romanian, it sounds like “ee.” If there is simple an “e,” then it is pronounced “ay.” The “z” is pronounced the same as English. After this short clause, you see a colon (:), and that means that something is following.

Scoala-te! (Get up!)Photo by Ivan Oboleninov on Pexels.com

,,Scoala-te, = “Get up!” The two commas at the beginning here are not actually commas. They are quotation marks. In Romanian, they put the first set of quotation marks on the line, and the second set at the top like we do in English. This means someone is talking, and we are getting the exact words. We already know it is the angel talking to Joseph in his dream while he is in Egypt. “Scoala” comes from “a se scula.” “A se scula” means “to get oneself up.” The “te” after “scoala” must be there to make it grammatically correct because of the “se” in “a se sucla.” The “te” means “yourself.” “Scoala-te” is in second person singular simple present tense, so basically, the angel said, “get yourself up” or “get up.”

Isus era copil mic in Egipt. (Jesus was a toddler in Egypt.)Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

ia Pruncul = “take the baby.” The word “ia” comes from “a lua” which means “to take.” When we see “ia,” it is conjugated into second person singular simple present tense. This “ia” is pronounced “yah.” “Pruncul” means “the baby.” The “ul” on the end is the masculine definite article, “the.” This means it is a particular baby, Jesus. “Prunc” means “baby,” so we know that Jesus still wasn’t very old when Joseph was told to take him out of Egypt. My daughter was only four years old when we left Romania, and she was fluent in Romanian and English. My brother was 2 years old when we left England and when to Morocco, and in no time, he was speaking Arabic a long with English. Babies really pick language up! They have a knack, and Jesus may have been speaking not only the languages his parents were speaking which were Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, but he may also have picked up Egyptian. I have seen little kids all over the glove doing amazing things with language that adults can’t do, and they never studied.

si pe mama Lui = “and His mother.” Again, we have “si” that needs a comma on the bottom of the “s,” is pronounced like our word “she,” and means “and,” a connecting conjunction.* Next, we have “pe” which usually means “on,” but here it is used as a signal word to tell you that a direct object is coming that is a person. “Pe” is pronounced “peh.” The word “mama” is almost an international word for “mother.” Mothers are called “mama” in many countries. Even in Korea they call their mothers “oma.” When babies in Japan say “umama,” the Japanese claim the babies are calling for their mother goddess. However, the rest of the world knows that “mama” means “mother.” “Lui” is a possessive pronoun meaning “his.” The person who translated the Romanian Bible capitalized it just as the capitalized “Pruncul” because they are talking about Jesus. In English, “his” would come before “mama,” but in Romanian, they often put the possessive pronouns after the noun.

si du-te = “and take youself” or “go.” You still have that “si” here, and I have given instructions twice on its meaning and pronunciation above.* In Romania, they often say “take yourself” when they tell someone to go. If I am going, I might say “ma duc” which means “I take myself.” The word “du” or “duc” comes from “a se duce” meaning “to take oneself.” Again, that “te” is a reflexive pronoun meaning “yourself.”

Du-te in tara lui Israel. (Go to the country of Israel.)Photo by Toa Heftiba Şinca on Pexels.com

in tara lui Israel = “to the country of Israel.” In Romanian, when we use the word “to,” they would often use “in.” It is just a difference in word choice between the two languages. They have words that mean “to,” but when they go somewhere, they don’t use “la” which means “to” in Romanian, but “in.” It is not pronounced the same as our English “in,” but in most places, it means the same thing. The difference in the pronunciation is the “i.” The “i” should have an inverted “v” over it, and it isn’t pronounced like any English vowel. It is said down in the throat like a grunt: “ugh” in the throat.

“Tara” means “country.” The “t” in “tara” should have a comma attached to the bottom of it. This means that “tara” is pronounced “tsahrah.” “In tara” is a prepositional phrase with “in” as the preposition and “tara” as the object of the preposition. I already told you above that “lui” means “his,” but it can also mean “of.” Since it is place between “tara” and “Israel,” it means “of,” another preposition. “Israel” is the object proper noun of the preposition “lui” (of), so “lui Israel” is a prepostitional phrase.

Rege Irod, cel rau barbatul, a murit. (King Herod, the bad man, died.) Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

caci au murit = “Because they have died.” “Caci” should have a mark over the “a” that looks like a smile on a happy face or a parenthesis laying on its side “(.” This makes that “a” pronounced like “uh.” Never pronounce it “ah.” The “i” after the second “c” makes the “c” into a “ch” so “caci” is pronounced: “cuhch.” The final “i” may be barely heard. “Caci” means “because.” “Au murit” comes from “a muri” (to die). “Au murit” is in third person plural present perfect compus tense. We don’t have this tense in English. Present perfect compus can be used either as simple present tense or present perfect tense in English. I translated it as present perfect tense. Present perfect tense begins in the past and continued until now. It is a kind of past tense. “Au” and the “t” on the end of “au murit” is what makes it prespent perfect compus tense. “Au” tells you it is third person plural, “they.” This means that more than King Herod must have died. King Herod had died, and perhaps some of the soldiers who were killing the babies too since the pronoun is “they.”

Atunci cei ce cautau sa iau viata lui Isus nu mai au facut. (Then, the ones who had looked to take the life of Jesus didn’t do it anymore.)Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

cei ce cautau = “those that searched.” “Cei” is pronounced “chay-ee.” Remember, if there is an “e” or an “i” after a “c” in Romanian, the “c” is pronounced like an English “ch.” “Cei” means “those.” This is the subject of the verb “au murit” (they died). The subject often comes after the verb in Romanian because there is not an exact word order like in English. In Romanian, you put whatever word you think is the most important first. The translator must have thought that the fact that they died was more important than “cei” (those), the subject. “Ce” is pronounced “chay.” In a question, “ce” means “what,” but in the middle of the sentence like it is here, it means “that.” It is a relative pronoun that begins a relative clause that functions like an adjective here telling about the people who died. Both the vowels in the first part of “cautau” and in the second part are pronounced the same. the first part of the word is pronounced like the English word “cow,” and the vowels in “tau” are pronounced the same: “cowtow.” “Cautau” comes from “a cauta” which means “to search for” or “to look for.” “Cautau” is in the Romanian imperfect past tense which is equivalent to our simple past tense and “cautau” is in third person singular, so the pronoun imbedded is “they.”

sa iau viata Pruncului = “to take the baby’s life.” “Sa iau” comes from “a lua” which means “to take.” “Sa iau” is the infinitive form, “to take,” that is used inside the sentence. “Sa iau” is pronounced “sah yow” with that “ow” being like the “ow” in “cow.” “Viata” is pronounced “vee-ah-tsa” and means “life.” There should be a comma attached to the bottom of the “t” in “viata” that makes it sound like “ts.” “Viata” is the direct object noun of “sa iau” (to take). The “a” on the end of “viata” (life) tells you that “viata” is feminine, and the “a” also doubles as a feminine “the,” the definite article meaning it is a particular life. “Pruncului” tells you which particular life. “Prunc” alone means “baby.” the “ul” toward the end of “pruncului” is the masculine definite article “the” meaning it is a particular baby. The “lui” attached to the end of “pruncului” is like an apostrophe “s” in English. The life belongs to the baby. When “lui” was before the noun, it means “of.” When “lui” was after the noun and a separate word, it means “his.” Here, connected to the end of the noun, as I said, it is like an apostrophe “s.” It is the baby’s life.

Let’s put this verse all together: And he said to him, “Get up! Take the baby and his mother and go to the country of Israel because the ones who searched to take the life of the baby have died.

Iosif era un barbat bun pe care au avut grifa de famia lui. (Joseph was a good man who took care of his family.) Photo by Mena Fox on Pexels.com

Wow! I bet Joseph was relieved! He had been able to protect Jesus, and the danger seemed to be over. Joseph was a good father who protected his family. Now a days, many men take off and say, “this is too much for me!” leaving the mother alone to fend for the kids, but there was nothing selfish about Joseph. He took care of his family. God gave Jesus a wonderful earthly father. The men now a days in America and other countries too need to be using Joseph as their example of how to be a good father. Joseph wouldn’t have had all the dreams about angels if he wasn’t always trying to figure out how to take good care of his family. We have an epidemic in America that came from the hippies. They said, “If it feels good, do it!” I am sure it wasn’t easy for Joseph to have to take care of a baby everyone was trying to kill. He didn’t have a train or a car to take him to Egypt and back. At the most, they may have ridden donkeys or camels. However, many people draw pictures and put Mary on the donkey with Jesus which means Joseph had to walk all that way if the pictures were right. How many men would do that today? It couldn’t’ have been easy or felt good. Joseph was committed to doing the right thing, and God was helping him by sending him messages when he slept. If he didn’t care what God thought, God wouldn’t have helped him, but he cared. God can only help you if you are trying to do the right thing.

I hope you are having fun with the Romanian as well as the Bible story here.

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