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MERAB (mē'răb, Heb. mērav, perhaps increase). The older daughter of King Saul, her sister being Michal. After David killed Goliath, the women sang his praises (1Sam.18.7) and aroused Saul’s jealousy. Saul sought to have David killed by the Philistines and so promised him Merab as wife if he would fight valiantly; however, he then gave Merab to another man; but Michal loved David, and to win her David killed two hundred Philistines. In 2Sam.21.8 by an early copyist’s error “Michal” is written for “Merab,” as the context clearly shows. NIV follows the context and uses “Merab.” Merab’s five sons were killed by the men of Gibeon.

MERAB mĭr’ ăb (מֵרַ֔ב, LXX Μεροβ, meaning uncertain; from a chief, is a likely derivation). The record states (1 Sam 14:49) that Saul had two daughters, Merab the first-born and Michal the younger. Merab was promised to David (18:17) but when the time came for David to marry the girl, for some unknown reason she was given to Adriel the Meholathite (v. 19). It seems likely that the reason lay in Saul’s neurotic behavior in all his dealings with his rival David. The RSV is correct in following two Heb. MSS and the VSS (LXX, etc.) in reading Merab (2 Sam 21:8) where the Heb. has Michal. The context also demands the change.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)