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.

Genesis 16:2 in Other Translations

KJV
2 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.
ESV
2 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.
NLT
2 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.
MSG
2 Sarai said to Abram, "God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her." Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.
CSB
2 Sarai said to Abram, "Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps I can have children by her." And Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Genesis 16:2 Meaning and Commentary

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.


FOOTNOTES:

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.)

Genesis 16:2 In-Context

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;
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.
3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.
4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”

Cross References 2

  • 1. Genesis 29:31; Genesis 30:2
  • 2. Genesis 19:32; Genesis 30:3-4,9-10