וימררהו ורבו. וַיְמָרְרוּהוּ אֶחָיו, וַיְמָרְרוּהוּ פּוֹטִיפַר וְאִשְׁתּוֹ, לְאָסְרוֹ; לְשׁוֹן וַיְמָרְרוּ אֶת חַיֵּיהֶם:
וימררהו ורבו AND THEY EMBITTERED HIM — His brothers dealt bitterly with him; Potiphar and his wife dealt bitterly with him, putting him into the dungeon. וימררהו is the same metaphor as וימררו 'וגו in (Exodus 1:14) “They made their lives bitter (וימררו )” (Genesis Rabbah 98:19).
ורבו. נַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ אֶחָיו אַנְשֵׁי רִיב. וְאֵין הַלָּשׁוֹן הַזֶּה לְשׁוֹן פָּעֲלוּ, שֶׁאִם כֵּן הָיָה לוֹ לִנָּקֵד "וָרָבוּ", כְּמוֹ הֵמָּה מֵי מְרִיבָה אֲשֶׁר רָבוּ וְגוֹ' (במדבר כ'), וְאַף אִם לְשׁוֹן רְבִיַּת חִצִּים הוּא כָּךְ הָיָה לוֹ לִנָּקֵד; אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן פּוֹעֲלוּ, כְּמוֹ שֹׁמּוּ שָׁמַיִם (ירמיהו ב'), שֶׁהוּא לְשׁוֹן הוּשַׁמּוּ; וְכֵן רוֹמּוּ מְּעַט, שֶׁהוּא לְשׁוֹן הוּרְמוּ, אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּשׁוֹן הוּרְמוּ וְהוּשַׁמּוּ עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים, וּלְשׁוֹן שֹׁמּוּ, רֹמּוּ, רֹבּוּ מֵאֵלֵיהֶם הוּא – מְשׁוֹמְמִים אֶת עַצְמָם, נִתְרוֹמְמוּ מֵעַצְמָם, נַעֲשׂוּ אַנְשֵׁי רִיב, וְכֵן דֹּמּוּ יֹשְׁבֵי אִי, כְּמוֹ נִדְמוּ, וְכֵן תִּרְגֵּם אֻנְקְלוֹס, וְנַקְמוֹהִי:
ורבו means his brothers became his adversaries (literally, men of strife). This verb is not a Kal form meaning they strove (with him) for were it so it should have been punctuated וְרָבוּ (from the root ריב), as in (Numbers 20:13) “These are the waters of Meribah, where the children of Israel strove (רָבוּ)”. And even if its meaning were “shooting arrows” (from the root רבה) it would have been punctuated in exactly the same way. It really has a passive force like (Jeremiah 2:12) שֹׁׁמּוּ שמים “Be astonished, O ye heavens” which is as much as הושמו; and likewise (Job 24:24) “They are exalted (רֹמּוּ) for a little while” which has the same meaning as הורמו except that הורמו and הושמו mean they are made to be exalted and astonished by others, whilst שמו and רמו and רבו denote that the actions arise out of the persons themselves: they make themselves to be astonished, they are exalted of their own accord, רבו means they became men of strife. A similar form is (Isaiah 23:2) “Be still (דֹּמּוּ) ye inhabitants of the isle” where דמו has the same meaning as the Nipal of נִדְמוּ ,דום. In this sense does Onkelos also translate it: ונקמהו “and they avenged themselves on him”.
בעלי חצים. שֶׁלְּשׁוֹנָם כַּחֵץ, וְתַרְגּוּמוֹ לְשׁוֹן וַתְּהִי הַמֶּחֱצָה, אוֹתָן שֶׁהָיוּ רְאוּיִים לַחֲלֹק עִמּוֹ נַחֲלָה:
בעלי חצים THE ARCHERS (literally, men who have arrows) — they were so called because their tongues were as arrows (Genesis Rabbah 98:19) (cf. Psalms 120:4). Onkelos translates it (חצים) by פלגותא taking it to be of the same root as המחצה in (Numbers 31:36) “And the half (המחצה) was” thus he takes בעלי חצים to mean “those who were destined to share with him the inheritance”.