16:2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Since 1 the Lord has prevented me from having children, have sexual relations with 2 my servant. Perhaps I can have a family by her.” 3 Abram did what 4 Sarai told him.
1 tn Heb “look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) introduces the foundational clause for the imperative to follow.
sn The Hebrew expression translated have sexual relations with does not convey the intimacy of other expressions, such as “so and so knew his wife.” Sarai simply sees this as the social custom of having a child through a surrogate. For further discussion see C. F. Fensham, “The Son of a Handmaid in Northwest Semitic,” VT 19 (1969): 312-21.
3 tn Heb “perhaps I will be built from her.” Sarai hopes to have a family established through this surrogate mother.
4 tn Heb “listened to the voice of,” which is an idiom meaning “obeyed.”
sn Abram did what Sarai told him. This expression was first used in Gen 3:17 of Adam’s obeying his wife. In both cases the text highlights weak faith and how it jeopardized the plan of God.
5 tn Heb “Rachel.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“she”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
6 tn Heb “sons.”