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Merab and Michal
by Wayne Blank
"the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal"
The family of King Saul:
"Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal: And the name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam" (1 Samuel 14:49-50 KJV)
Michal was, in effect, the consolation prize (actually, the consolation trap - Saul didn't really want David as a son in law; he wanted David to get himself killed in battle while meeting the king's conditions for the marriage, first to Merab, then to Michal). David was originally intended to have married Saul's older daughter Merab, but she was given to marry another man instead. So, Saul offered his younger daughter, Michal, to David as a replacement, a proposition that Michal herself very much desired:
"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 ... 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."
David was zealously successful in battle; he killed twice as many Philistines (that is, Palestinians - see Palestine) that Saul had asked for:
"Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men ... And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife."
As Saul's hatred and fear of David grew, Saul's attempts to kill David became more direct. When Saul tried to have David assassinated, Michal saved her husband from her father:
"Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped." (1 Samuel 19:11-12 KJV)
After David fled, Michal did not see him for a number of years. During that time, it apparently seemed to everyone that the political situation had ended their marriage, so David began marrying other women, while Michal was given to marry another man:
"And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives."
After David won the civil war (one of numerous wars fought among the Israelites, the Children of Jacob - see The Civil War), and replaced Saul as King of Israel, David demanded his wife Michal back. They were not divorced, at least as far as David was concerned. Saul had simply given her in marriage to another man, since he viewed her marriage to David merely as a sham, a failed trap to get David killed:
"Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker."
By that time, perhaps fueled primarily by the reality that she was just one of his wives, Michal viewed David with alienation and contempt. The day that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem marked the end of their relationship. When she rebuked him for behaving in an undignified manner while celebrating its arrival, he made plain his alienation and contempt for her in return:
"So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of The Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of The Lord came into the City Of David [see also Who, What or Where Is Zion?], 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."
Fact Finder: Which of Michal's brothers was a very close and trusted friend of David?