By Rabbi Moshe Reiss, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bible Commentator
2 Samuel 3:12-15
Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.”
He said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.” Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.”
Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.
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Picture posted by Gary Tooze, DVDBeaver on 3 March 2011 - Cherie Mary Lunghi in Excalibur (John Boorman, 1981)
The first of David’s wives was Michal, the daughter of King Saul; followed by Ahinoam – mother of Amnon; Abigail – mother of Kileab; Maacah – mother of Absalom and Tamar and daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; Haggith – mother of Adonijah, Eglah mother of Ithream and Abital, mother of Shephatiah. David’s last wife was Bathsheba mother of Solomon.
David’s first marriage had been contracted in the days when he was a young hero at the court of King Saul. He was the ‘wonder boy’ shepherd who had overnight soothed Saul’s depressive nature and suddenly became a warrior - a slayer of giants. Saul first promised his older daughter Merab to David as a reward for having defeated the Philistines. Upon successfully completing his task David discovers that Saul, for no apparent stated reason, had married Merab off to another man - Adriel of Meholah  (1 Samuel 18:19). In fact Saul had expected that the Philistines would kill David. ‘Better than strike the blow myself let the Philistines do it’ (1 Samuel 18:17) and thus he never expected to have to marry David to Merab; he expected David to die. However David defeated the Philistines.
Saul first promised his older daughter Merab to David as a reward for having defeated the Philistines. Upon successfully completing his task David discovers that Saul, for no apparent stated reason, had married Merab off to another man - Adriel of Meholah  (1 Samuel 18:19).
Engraved by W.Artaud "Saul Representing his Daughter Merab to David", 1834, published in The Pictorial History of the Bible
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King Saul then offered David to marry his second daughter Michal. We are told that Michal, the King’s younger daughter loved David. This explicit statement is a unique instance in the Bible of a woman telling of her love to a man (1 Samuel 18:20,28). Interestingly enough no indication is made that this love was reciprocated on David’s part; only that he was quite willing to wed the princess in order to become the King’s son-in-law (noted three times (1 Samuel 18:18,23,26) and thus entering into the royal family. This will not make him an heir apparent; Jonathan is, but puts David in a powerful but dangerous position.
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Saul set a bride-price for the groom David to receive Michal; to risk his life harvesting the foreskins of 100 Philistines. Again Saul did not expect David to succeed; we are twice that ‘Saul expected David to be killed by the Philistines’ (1 Samuel 18:21,25). Again David succeeded in fact provided 200 foreskins. There is something humorous about King Saul’s demand of foreskins of Philistines known infamously in the Bible as the uncircumcised. When David marries Michal we are told ‘and Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David; and Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. And Saul was more afraid of David’ (1 Samuel 18:28-29). What an intriguing juxtaposition; Saul was more afraid of David because God and Michal favored David his son-in-law! He realized his daughter’s love was counter productive to his intent. In truth Saul was intuitively correct, David was indeed going to succeed him and displace Jonathan’s succession.
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When Saul later sought to slay David, Michal assisted her husband escape thereby risking her father’s unpredictable and often violent wrath (1 Samuel 19:11-13). Michal herself remains in the Palace. Did Michal expect her husband to return shortly? David, despite meeting with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:1-43) presumably near the palace does not return for her for many years.
Painting by Gustave Doré, 1865, posted by Sarah Patten on 19 October 2015, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Saul expected his daughter Michal to protect the ‘family dynastic business’ by being loyal to her father the King. What he realized was that her first loyalty was to her new husband. As the first King her father had no dynastic backing. Jonathan the heir presumptive had already accepted David as his brother and the likely heir to the throne (1 Samuel 18:3-4). Jonathan later made a covenant of protection between himself and David (1 Samuel 20:14-15). Both Michal and Jonathan would both protect David against Saul’s pursuit and violence. For reasons not clear at the moment David accepted that his connection to Jonathan would be more productive than connecting to Michal. Perhaps as we shall note later Michal could not bear children.
Michal Helps David Escape. Both Michal and Jonathan would both protect David against Saul’s pursuit and violence.
Picture posted by Mary Vee on Saturday, 24 March 2012
Years later after Saul’s death Michal figures in the negotiations aimed primarily at attaining reconciliation between Judea and other tribes (later known as the kingdom of Israel) who followed the Saulide dynasty. When Saul’s son Ishbosheth led the other tribes David was approached by Abner Ishbosheth’s military commander, for a union between the two sides. David demanded the return of Michal who he had long left home and who Saul had married off to Paltiel as one of his terms in the agreement. He sent the demand to Ishbosheth, with a reminder that ‘I acquired her for one hundred Philistine foreskins’ (2 Samuel 3:14); he had after all paid for her. Ishbosheth acceded to this demand seemingly giving David authority over him. Paltiel, Michal’s husband reacts with great dismay wailing and lamenting, he follows her part way of the journey back to David her first husband. David referred to Michal as his wife (2 Samuel 3:14) while the narrator refers to her as Paltiel’s wife (2 Samuel 3:15,16). The reader is informed of Paltiel’s reaction, however Michal’s reaction is significantly absent. The author created a tragic triangular symmetry telling us that Michal loved David and implicitly that Paltiel loved Michal but did not tell us either love was reciprocated. Shortly after Michal rejoined David we are told that he took ‘more concubines and wives; more sons and daughters were born to David (2 Samuel 5:13).
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Nothing more is said of Michal’s relationship with David until the great day when the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem. In a celebration of this occasion, complete with sacrifices and blasts of the shofar (a ram's-horn trumpet), the King himself leading, gird in the linen ephod worn by priests, whirls with all his might before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). It is the supreme moment of his life, and leads directly to his house being declared the dynasty of God (2 Samuel 7).
In a celebration of this occasion, complete with sacrifices and blasts of the shofar (a ram's-horn trumpet), the King himself leading, gird in the linen ephod worn by priests, whirls with all his might before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14).
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When Michal was brought back from Palti she was identified as the daughter of Saul, and not as the wife of David (2 Samuel 3:14). Earlier in 1 Samuel 19:11; 25:44 she was referred to as David’s wife. She is trapped in a dilemma of being the daughter of Saul the former King and her husband the present king. Saul and David had fought bitterly over the kingdom during her father’s lifetime and after his death fought a civil war for years to become the legitimate successor.
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Michal ‘looked out the window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord, and she loathed him in her heart’ (2 Samuel 6:16). As David came to bless his house/family she did not even wait for him to enter the palace, but stood in the doorway blocking him, in a stunning attack pouring out her rage and venom. In the first and only dialogue she has with David (in the text) she said: ‘Did not the king of Israel honor today - exposing himself in the sight of the servant’s female servant’s, as one of the riffraff (people who are not respectable) might expose himself!’ (2 Samuel 6:20).
These are very strong words to describe the feelings of the woman who had once loved David and risked her life for him. This is this remarkably scornful and sexually debasing language towards her husband and king from a once loving wife. She accuses him of exposing himself to the lowest of the low, the female servant’s of his male servants. The man is now the King of Israel, but she is noted as the daughter of Saul and not David’s wife.
An unknown artist’s depiction of David dancing about the ark. This seems to be what wearing an Ephod alone would be like.
Picture posted by Vicki on 16 August 2015
To what did Michal allude when she said he ‘exposed’ himself? While many commentators suggest David was scantily clad nothing in the text suggests that. David was wearing an ephod, the priestly robe. Did she resent his was not wearing a royal robe? He was associating with the riffraff (people who are not respectable), while she acts as was part of an aristocracy (the highest class in certain societies). That, unlike her father, he was not a king with legitimate, sovereign status? Did she consider that David had illegitimately usurped the kingship from her father and his descendants?
David’s supposed nakedness was not the issue.  Did Michal, perhaps, sense that he demanded her back, tearing her away from a loving husband, not out of love for her as a person but rather as valuable dynastic property and a pawn in his political game? Her inner conflict between her father and two husbands; one loving and one probably not seem clear.
David response to Michal was that the Lord had chosen him over her father and over her father’s house, and made him prince over all Israel. David added that he would find honor among those she had scorned (2 Samuel 6:21-22).
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All of this occurred when David brought the ark to Jerusalem in a celebration with 30,000 persons and danced before the Lord and sings an intoxicated hymn (1 Chronicles 16:8-36). Saul never chose to bring the Ark back after it was hijacked during the days of Samuel.
The only other significant incident involving Michal was when she saved David from her father using ‘teraphim’ (1 Samuel 19:13) to make up as if David were in the bed. ‘Teraphim’ are a form of household idol most notably used by Laban, Rachel’s father and Jacob’s enemy (Genesis 31:19-42). Rachel steals her father gods to presumably dilute his power (at least psychologically) against her husband Jacob. Rachel is the mother of Benjamin and ancestress of Michal, the loved wife of Jacob (Genesis 29:18). David from the tribe of Judah ancestress is Leah the despised wife of Jacob (Genesis 29:31). The author of the Books of Samuel chose to have Michal who is noted as loving David use ‘teraphim’ to save David and then have her criticize David when he is bringing the sacred ark to Jerusalem. Jacob loves Rachel and Michal loves David, unique incidents in the Hebrew Bible; both women use teraphim, idols, to help their beloved, each one of God’s favorites. The two love incidents connected with ‘teraphim’ and latter with the ark are intriguing juxtapositions (contrast).
Here is an artist's reconstruction of Genesis 31:19-42, the shrine of the ancestors in the house of Laban, Rachel's father.
Picture posted by S and C (Dr. Stephen L. Cook Virginia) on Wednesday, 16 August 2006 at 6:55 AM
The passage concludes (2 Samuel 6:23) with the remark that Michal remained childless all her life. There appears to be connection between the incident and this final statement, that she was barren as a punishment for her disrespect of her husband and King. However that may be incorrect. Michal lived with David at the palace before she helped him escape; she was then married by her father to Palti and lived with him for an unknown number of years. Michal had rejoined David when he resided in Hebron, he and his army then conquered Jerusalem, built a palace and had a successful war with the Philistines and brought the Ark to Jerusalem. These events all transpired during the period between Michal’s reunion with David and the incident over the Ark. This time is unspecified but several years probably ensued. Given that Michal lived with David known at the time to very fertile and with Paltiel it seems plausible that Michal may simply have suffered from infertility.
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We are told that ‘Michal’ and Adriel had five sons (2 Samuel 21:8); it is generally held by Jewish commentators that the name Michal is a scriptural error intended to read Merab, in as much as we are told Michal married Adriel (1 Samuel 18:19) and she had no children until the day of her death  (2 Samuel 6:23). 
"Dear Lord, We pray that we learned that to despise and laugh at others can cause defensive action being taken against us. Amen!"
Picture posted by Cristiano Ferrer on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 at 00:00 - Passion
 David's Wives: Love, Lust and Power, By Rabbi Moshe Reiss, email@example.com, Bible Commentator, http://www.moshereiss.org/articles/22_david.htm
 The Septuagint Codex Vaticanus does not include the Merab marriage proposal. P.K. McCarter suggests it may have come from a later redactor, ‘1 Samuel, a New Translation’ (N.Y., Doubleday, 1980) pg. 306-308.
 Prior to this we are told Saul loved David (1 Samuel 16:21), Jonathan loved David (1 Samuel 18:1,3) and all Israel loved David (1 Samuel 18:16); all using the same Hebrew root ‘ahava’. Thus the ‘ahava’ that Michal expressed to David may be different that the modern romantic love between a man and a woman.
 Cheryl Exum, Murder They Wrote, pg. 184, in Bach, Alice, ed., The Pleasure of Her Text, (Trinity Press, Philadelphia, 1990).
 One Talmudic sage suggested that David married both sisters, another that Michal later died in child birth, another that Michal adopted Merab’s children after her death (BT San. 19b).
 In the Masoretic text Michal is listed; some Septuagint codices state Merab, Solvang, Elna, K., ‘A Women’s Place is in the House’, JSOT #349 (Sheffield University, Sheffield, 2003) pg. 106. David allowed the five sons, noted as the sons of Adriel and Michal to be hanged (2 Samuel 21:8-9). It is clear David did not protect these grandchildren of Saul with the exception of Jonathan’s son, Mephishobet, whom he had committed to protect.
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1 Samuel 18:1,3 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A1%2C3&version=NIV
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1 Samuel 18:16 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A16&version=NIV
1 Samuel 18:17 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A17&version=NIV
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1 Samuel 18:20,28 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A20%2C28&version=NIV
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1 Samuel 18:18,23,26 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A18%2C23%2C26&version=NIV
1 Samuel 18:28-29 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+18%3A28-29&version=NIV
1 Samuel 19:11-13 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+19%3A11-13&version=NIV
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1 Samuel 20:14-15 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+20%3A14-15&version=NIV
2 Samuel 3:12-15 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+3%3A12-15&version=NIV
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