In Parshat Shmot, we see a family of 70 turn into a vast nation. How did this happen so quickly?
In Shmot 1:7 we read: “And B’nai Yisrael paru, vayishretzu, vayirbu, vayaatzmu, b’meod meod, proliferated, swarmed, multiplied and grew more and more…”
Why were so many verbs needed to describe their rate of reproduction?
Ibn Ezra (1092-1167) comments that the women gave birth like a tree that bears fruit. They bore twins and more. He then explains that he knows of a woman who delivered four babies at a time (quadruplets) and that he heard from the doctors that a woman can handle delivering up to seven (septuplets).
Rashi quotes Midrash Tanchuma, Shmot 5, which states that they gave birth to six at a time (sextuplets).
Rashbam explains, “they were fruitful” in pregnancies, “they swarmed” with live births, the babies increased in size and they grew up.
Pharaoh attempted to devise a plan to ensure that they would not continue to multiply. Ibn Ezra points out that Pharaoh tried to “oppress him (the men) with burdens” (Shmot 1:11) in order to dry up their seed.
Pharaoh’s plan backfired as we see in sentence 12, “But the more the Egyptians oppressed him (B’nai Yisrael), the more he increased and spread…”
Rashi explains: Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) is saying: Pharaoh said “pen, lest he (Bnei Yisrael) increase” but I say, “ken, yes, they will increase.”
God’s intention was to make sure that the Jewish people would multiply and there was nothing that Pharaoh could do to change God’s plan. In fact, the more he tried to harm them, the more children they ended up producing.
May the Jewish people continue to be fruitful and multiply and fill up the State of Israel and may God make the pregnancies and births as easy and trouble free as they were in Egypt.