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Genesis 16:2

2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Read Genesis 16:2 Using Other Translations

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.

What does Genesis 16:2 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Genesis 16:2

And Sarai said unto Abram, behold now, the Lord hath
restrained me from bearing
Or, "hath shut me up" F4; that is, her womb, as were the wombs of the house of Abimelech, ( Genesis 20:18 ) ; so that she could not conceive and bear children; she now at this age despaired of having children, perceiving very probably that it ceased to be with her after the manner of women; and this she refers to the will and power of God; for, as children are his gift, and an heritage from him, ( Psalms 127:3 ) , so it is his will and pleasure sometimes to withhold this blessing from those who are very desirous of them:

I pray thee go in unto my maid;
Hagar, the Egyptian before mentioned; her meaning is, that he would take her to wife, and use her as such:

it may be that I may obtain children by her;
for whatsoever were born of her handmaid, and in her house, were her own, and so she should account them, and especially as they would be her husband's, see ( Exodus 21:4 ) ; or, "may be builded by her" F5; for women, by bearing children, build up an house, see ( Ruth 4:11 ) ; hence a son in Hebrew is called "ben", from "banah", to build:

and Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai;
without consulting God about it, the proposal being agreeable to the flesh, which may be imputed to the infirmity of the good man; though it does not appear to arise from previous lust predominant in him; but both Sarai's proposal, and his compliance with it, might be owing to the eager desire of each after the promised seed; they both believed the promise, but did not know it, being not as yet revealed, that Abram should have a son by Sarai; so that Sarai knowing her own case and circumstances, might conclude it was to be by another, and by her handmaid; and Abram might reason and judge after the same manner, which inclined him to listen to her: Josephus F6 says, indeed, that Sarai moved this to Abram by the direction and order of God himself; and the Jewish writers say F7, that Abram hearkened to the Holy Spirit of God that was in her.


F4 (ynrue) "couclusit me", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Schmidt; "occlusit me", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.
F5 (hnba) "aedificatur", Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Schmidt, Cartwright; so Ainsworth.
F6 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 10. sect. 4.
F7 Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 45. fol. 2.)
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