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Why does 2 Samuel 6:23 say Michal was barren to the day of her death, but 2 Samuel 21:8 says 'the five sons of Michal?'


2 Samuel 6:23

NKJV - 23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

Clarify Share Report Asked May 28 2015 Data Oluwatoyin Ajibose

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Michal had no children of her own (II Sam 6:23). She had no children before the incident where she scorned King David for dancing before the ark, and no children after. The force of the passage seems to be that it was because Michal had despised David in her heart (I Chron 5:29) that she was afflicted with barrenness.

The children in II Sam 21:8 are the sons of Merab, Michal's older sister and the eldest daughter of Saul. It was Merab who was married to Adriel the Meholathite (I Sam 1:18-20). Michal was never married to Adriel, but rather to King David, and for a time to Paltiel (I Sam 18:18-29, I Sam 25:44, II Sam 3:15).

[See eBible topic: https://ebible.com/questions/8527-why-did-david-seek-to-take-back-michal-as-wife-after-she-was-wed-to-paltiel for more detail.]

II Sam 21:8 has a couple different readings in different manuscripts, varying from 'the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul whom she bore to Adriel' to 'the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul whom she brought up for Adriel' to the even more detailed, 'And the five sons of Merab which Michal the daughter of Saul brought up'.

Names in the various manuscript are Michal (Hebrew), Merab (Chaldee), and Nadab (Syriac/Arabic).

Yet regardless of which variation is correct, Jewish tradition holds that "Merab brought them forth, and Michal brought them up, therefore they were called by her name." This is a likely theory, supported by the Jewish Talgum, and explains the verse.

If Merab at some point died, and Michal 'brought up' the sons on behalf of her sister, then Michal would have become the foster mother to the five sons. This is supported by the Jewish Targum, where the rendering is 'the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite'.

This practice of becoming a foster mother or nurse has a notable example in Naomi (Ruth 4:16), where Naomi takes in the child of Ruth, and her neighbors say, "A son has been born to Naomi!"

Hagar is another example. Sarah believed she could build her own family through Abraham begetting a child with Hagar (Gen 16:1-3).

Even if Merab had not died, Michal was the more prominent of the sisters. Despite being younger, she is the one that became the first wife of King David. In Hebrew narratives, often a person or relation is replaced by a relative more 'prominent' in the minds of the listeners. For examples: 'Goliath' is used in II Sam 21:19 in place of one of Goliath's brothers, in Jer 32:7 'uncle' is used instead of cousin, in genealogies 'son' is often used instead of grandson, etc.

These are not errors, just an artifact of Hebrew culture and literary style.

May 29 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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