Genesis 16:2

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing: I pray you, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
Some might still be struck by the fact that Abraham had a relationship with his slave girl when he was already conversing with God, as it is written: “Sarah said to Abraham, ‘See now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid to make children from her.’ ” And this is exactly what happened. But we should consider first of all that Abraham lived prior to the law of Moses and before the gospel; adultery, it seems, was not yet prohibited at this time. The penalty for the crime goes back only to the time of the law, which made adultery a crime. So there is no condemnation for the offense that precedes the law but only one based on the law. Abraham then cannot be said to have violated the law since he came before the law. Though in paradise God had praised marriage, he had not condemned adultery. In fact, he does not wish the death of sinners, and for this reason he promises the reward without exacting the penalty. Indeed, God prefers to stimulate with mild proddings ...

Didymus the Blind

AD 398
The apostle saw in these women the type of the two covenants, in accordance with the rule of allegory, but since what the text narrates actually took place, the literal sense also deserves consideration. The saints entered the married life not to pursue pleasure but for the sake of children. There is in fact a tradition that says they would go with their wives only when the time was suitable for conception. They would not go with them during the lactation period, when they were nursing their young, or when they were with child, because they regarded neither of these times as suitable for coming together. When Sarah, therefore, who was wise and holy, had observed for a long time that in spite of coming together with her husband she was not conceiving, she abstained from conjugal relations, and since she knew that it was in the order of things that he should have children, she gave him her slave girl as a concubine. This shows the moderation (sophrosyne) and the absence of jealousy of Sa...

Didymus the Blind

AD 398
As for the anagogical [mystical] teaching, one could explain the text by recalling that Paul allegorically transposed the two women into the two covenants. Philo also used allegory here but giving the text another application: He understood Sarah to represent perfect virtue and philosophy, because she was a free woman and wife, of noble birth and living with her husband in lawful union. Now virtue lives with the wise man in lawful union so that he can give birth from her to a divine progeny: “Wisdom,” in fact, “begets a man of discernment.” In Scripture the devout and holy man is addressed with the words “your wife is like a fruitful vine …. Your children are like olive shoots around the table. So shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” Sarah then is allegorically transposed into perfect and spiritual virtue. Hagar, the Egyptian slave, symbolizes, according to Philo, the preliminary exercises (progymnasmata), and, in Paul, “the shadow” [of good things to come]. It is not possibl...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
May have. Hebrew, "may be built up "a metaphorical expression: so God is said to have built up houses for the Egyptian midwives, Exodus i. 21. (Menochius)

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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