Problem: Michal does and doesn't have children
Verses: 2 Samuel 6:23, 2 Samuel 21:8; Status: Weak

There seem to be conflicting accounts of whether Michal, daughter of Saul, ever had children. Here's 2 Samuel 6:23:

Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. (KJV)

And here's 2 Samuel 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: (KJV)

The reason I have to use the King James Version for these quotations is that most modern Bibles are united in declaring this to be a scribal error, and that the original manuscript probably referred not to Michal, but to her sister Merab. Even the NRSV, which does not normally make any effort to cover up contradictions, gives the following:

The king took the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite; (NRSV)

The notes to the NRSV base this on two Hebrew manuscripts and the Syriac translation, though the Masoretic text reads Michal.

Another factor in favour of this argument is that Michal was not married to Adriel; her sister Merab was. So it makes a lot of sense that these should be Merab's children. I think it is likely that the modern Bibles are correct.

Updated: Summer 2008

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