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Did Michael, Daughter of Saul, Have Children?

Posted May 5, 2011

Hi M____,

Thank you for your question concerning this apparent contradiction in scripture. Here again are those two verses:

2Sa 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. 

2Sa 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.

As is pointed out below ""Had no child unto the day of her death" may mean simply "had no child henceforward." Here is the sequence of events:

1Sa 25:44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

This is 1 Samuel, which ends with the death of King Saul after giving David's wife, Michal, to another man.

Several years later, in 2 Samuel, we are told David demanded his wife back, but this was after running from Saul for several years and then finally being established as the king.

2Sa 3:12 And Abner [King Saul's captain of the host] sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land? saying also, Make thy league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee.
2Sa 3:13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul's daughter, when thou comest to see my face.
2Sa 3:14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
2Sa 3:15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.

After being established as the king of all of Israel, David sends to Shiloh, and after making some very serious mistakes in the handling of the ark of God, He finally brings the ark into Jerusalem. It is at this joyous time that King David dances before the ark, and Michal despises her husband and accuses him of exposing himself to the women of Jerusalem. It is at this point that we read:

2Sa 6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
2Sa 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
2Sa 6:16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
2Sa 6:17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
2Sa 6:18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.
2Sa 6:19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.
2Sa 6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
2Sa 6:21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.
2Sa 6:22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
2Sa 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

It is much later that we encounter this story where Michal is said to have "brought up five sons" of her older sister Merab. It is these five sons of Merab, who Michal had "brought up", who are delivered to the Gibeonites to be hanged. It is obvious that "Adriel, the son of Barzillai" had five sons by Merab, who had apparently died before King David demanded to have Michal back. These were not Michal's sons at all but were the sons of her sister who she "had brought up for Adreil the son of Barzallai the Meholathite [Michal's brother in law].

These children were all born while David was hiding from King Saul.

"...and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:"

We know this to be the case because of these verses which tell us of how popular David was with all Israel after he killed Goliath. But they also tell us that King Saul's daughter Merab, was promised to David, before she was given to Adriel, by whom the five sons in question were born.

1Sa 18:16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
1Sa 18:17 And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
1Sa 18:18 And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?
1Sa 18:19 But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.
1Sa 18:20 And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
1Sa 18:21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

So the statement that "Michal had no children" is obviously to be understood as being children of her own, not the children of her sister and brother in law who we are told Michal had "brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:" her brother in law, whose wife, Michal's sister, Merab, had apparently died.

There are several scriptures just like this one which are always resolved when it is realized that there are many facts surrounding the alleged discrepancy, which must be made known in order to see what is the Truth. But there are time when the Hebrew letters involved are so similar that a sleight scribal error can completely change the name or object under consideration.

Here is what 'Alleged Discrepancies of The Bible' has to say about these two verses:

"Michal's sons, 2Sa 21:8 and 2Sa 6:23 ("Had no child unto the day of her death" may mean simply "had no child henceforward."  Ewald and DeWette say, with the greatest probability, that Michal, in the first passage, is a copyist's mistake for Merab)."

There are human scribal errors in the copying of the Bible, but no such error ever takes away from "the sum of God's Word".

Psa 119:160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

I hope this helps you to see that Michal had been taken by her father, King Saul, and given to another man and that the children mentioned had been born to Merab and Adriel, Michal's sister and brother in law, and were called Michal's children only because she had "brought them up for Adriel" her brother in law.

Above all, I pray this all serves to demonstrate that the Word of God is always, in its sum, to be our rock, and all men are to be considered liars when they dare to, in any way, belittle or contradict the sum of God's Word.

Your brother in Christ,