When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain
the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar
words both of whose meanings we already know.
The following Hebrew words all refer to
reproduce, [plant/fruit reproduction; a few at a time]
swarm, [insect reproduction; many at a time]
teem, overflow [fish reproduction; many at a time but not nuisances like insects]
In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach,
which can be found on the world-wide-web at
we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting
Rashi comments. The following translation of verse
embeds the Rashi translation
YIDGU means teeming.
The Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads;
and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them teem and overflow in the midst of the earth.
Rashi explains the basic idea: Swarm, means
to have many; teem, means to have many. What we have added to
the understanding of Rashi is the citation
of three Rashis together and the supplementation with nuanced synonyms from English. This
approach enables us to naturally see the difference between swarm and teem.
We have therefore brought in the Rashis on the Hebrew words PRU, SHIRTZU
as well supplied the English synonyms fruitful, swarm, teem. This
use of English captures the nuance of teem - welcome proliferation vs.
swarm - unwelcome proliferation.