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MICHAL (mī'kăl, Heb. mîkhāl, a contraction of mîkhā’ēl, Michael). The younger daughter of King Saul of Israel (1Sam.14.49). Saul, insanely jealous of David, desired to kill him but, finding it impossible to do so by his own hands (1Sam.18.11), he tried trickery. He offered David his elder daughter Merab for his service against the Philistines, but changed his mind and gave her to another; then he learned that Michal loved David, so he offered her to David if he would give evidence of having killed a hundred Philistines. David killed two hundred and married Michal; but Saul hated him all the more. Once, when Saul sent some men to kill David, Michal helped him to escape (1Sam.19.11-1Sam.19.17), deceiving Saul’s officers by putting an idol in his bed. Though Michal truly loved David, she could not comprehend him, and so scoffed at him for rejoicing before the Lord (2Sam.6.16-2Sam.6.23). As a result, she never had a child.

MICHAL mī kəl (מִיכַ֥ל, a contraction of mikhā'ēl Michael, meaning: who is like God?, LXX, Μελχὸλ). Younger daughter of King Saul; wife of David.

After slaying Goliath, David’s growing popularity with the people so angered Saul (1 Sam 18:6f.) that he began to seek ways of destroying him. His scheming mind first hit upon the idea (18:17f.) of offering him Merab, his oldest daughter in marriage, hinting that all the dowry he would require would be his valor in fighting the Philistines, but secretly hoping that David would fall by the hand of the enemy. David did not take the hint, but excused himself (v. 18) on the ground of his lack of wealth and his family status. The king did not press the matter and Merab was given to Adriel, but Saul continued to scheme. Then one day when the news came to him that Michal, his younger daughter loved David, an idea (v. 20f.) took fire in his brain! He offered Michal in marriage to him, stipulating that the requirement would be the foreskins of one hundred Philistines. Saul was confident that his rival would be slain, but instead, David killed two hundred Philistines. He merely gained greater popularity out of the affair, married Michal, and continued to annoy the king. The young couple seemed suited to each other, and when Saul conceived another dastardly plan (19:10-17) to kill David, Michal shrewdly thwarted her father’s scheme and saved David’s life. When David finally was forced to flee for his life and became an outlaw with a price on his head, Saul gave Michal to Paltiel, son of Laish (25:44).

Years later, when Saul was dead and David was negotiating with Abner to obtain the entire kingdom, his first requirement was that Michal should be returned to him (2 Sam 3:12-16). Abner complied with his request, and despite the grief of Paltiel, Michal again became the wife of David. It seemed that the old rapport between the two was gone. It is possible that to David, who was now a successful man with many wives and enormous responsibility, she was no longer attractive. It may be that the inevitable difference between the boy-husband of Michal’s earlier years and the mature and occupied warrior of her later life was too much for her to take. Suffice it to say, that her stinging criticism (6:16, 20-23) in the episode of moving the Ark to Jerusalem destroyed what little regard he may have had left for her in his heart. Her rebuke and his retort brought to a painful close a romance that once sparkled and glistened with the eternal hope of youth. Michal’s romance with David, its bright beginning and its sorrowful ending, is a telling reflection of the fortunes of the house of Saul as found in 1 and 2 Samuel. In addition, she suffered the worst fate a Heb. woman could sustain—she died childless.

The only other mention of her name is prob. the error of a scribe who mistakenly wrote Michal when he should have written Merab (21:8).


W. Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, III (1872), 1920; The New Bible Commentary (1963), 272, 273, 284.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

John A. Lees