And the angel of the LORD said unto her,
Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; because the LORD has heard your affliction.
Read Chapter 16
Didymus the Blind
At that time, giving birth to children was regarded as a matter of great importance in view of the multiplication of human beings, as we have explained—this, moreover, at a time when virginity and the teaching on virtue did not yet have much credibility. This is why even prayers were said for conception and they counted such a thing as giving birth among the blessings. So much for the literal explanation. As for the spiritual sense, it could be this: One who has begun to be educated according to God and who is at the introductory stage is like one in a gestation period. The Master’s word, however, makes him the promise that he will give birth, for masters who teach are often perspicacious when they see the efforts of their disciples and they acknowledge too their natural gifts. That the fruit of the womb is uncertain one can learn from a Gospel saying, when the Savior remarks, “Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days!” Such situations in fact are pre...