When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi
does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate
meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in
the varied meanings of a Biblical root.
In my article
Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at
I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation
using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples
The Hebrew root Nun-Vav-Ayin has
a basic meaning of rattle. It can therefore mean
- To physically rattle e.g. to rattle food in a sieve
- Cymbals, the musical instrument which achieves
its effect by rattling
- Human wandering which is poetically called
rattling of humans.
Frequently the underling unified theme in
our unified meanings is only conjecture.
But in this case we have a charming verse in which both of
the meanings of rattle and wander occur confirming
our hunch on a poetic analogy. Verse Am09-09
discussing the punishment of the Jews states
For, behold, I will command, and I will
make the house of Israel wander among all nations,
like grain is rattled in a sieve,
yet not even the least grain shall fall upon the earth.
Using the above Rashi we would translate Nu32-07,13a
And why do you rattle the heart of the people of Israel from going over to the land which the Lord has given them?
Thus did your fathers, ....
And the Lordís anger was kindled against Israel,
and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years,
until all the generation,
that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.
Notice how Moses also used the root Nun-Vav-Ayin
in the sense of both rattling and wandering.
This gives a rare moment of insight: We can appreciate how
the Prophet Amos borrowed Moses' Biblical pun and used it
in his own prophecies. Such cute insights enrich the Rashi