ABC:2 Samuel 21
Infidels.org claims a contradiction here, asking "How many children did Michal, the daughter of Saul, have?" TheThinkingAtheist.com also claims there is an error here in its section, "Did Michal have children?"
|“||2 Samuel 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
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:
This may be a scribal error though it appears only in newer manuscripts. As AIG authors Bodie Hodge and Jeremy Ham have pointed out, two ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint and Syriac do correctly have Merab's name in 2 Samuel 21:8 without the error.
Michal was after all given by Saul to another man in marriage after marrying David, but the man Michal was given to was not the "Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite" of 2 Samuel 21:8, but "Phalti, the son of Laish, which was of Gallim." (1 Samuel 25:44) Not until 2 Samuel 3:15 is David finally able to demand her release from Ishbosheth. The scribe apparently mixed up the names of Michal and Merab (who was supposed to have been given to David originally in marriage, but Saul didn't keep his word).
|“||1 Samuel 18:19 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.
20 And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.
Since it was Merab who was married to a Meholathite, and not apparently Michal, it would seem the scribe mixed up the names of Saul's daughters. Since both were engaged to be married to David and both given away to different men by Saul, and since both even have rather similar names, it's not hard to see how the scribe when copying from an older scroll may have made the mistake. This conclusion is also reached by CARM.
A possibility raised by Caleb Colley of Apologetics Press is that Michal raised the 5 children of her sister Merab given the phrasing of 2 Samuel 21:8, "brought up for." However, the passage's entire context seems to show that it was Merab being discussed in 2 Samuel 21:8, not Michal. After all, there would have been no need for David to go out and gather his own children (and Michal was his wife). The passage is referring to the children of Saul (e.g. Mephibosheth who was Jonathan's son) - David in other words was going out of his way to preserve Saul's remaining descendants after Saul and Jonathan had died.
Thus, while possible explanations exist, this does appear to be a scribal error, but not one which appears in the oldest manuscripts available to us.
- Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
- TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions.
- Hodge, Bodie & Ham, Jeremy (2010, July 23). Feedback: Did Michal Have Children or Not? Answers In Genesis. Retrieved from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/07/23/feedback-did-michal-have-children-or-not.
- Christian Apologetics Research Ministry. Did Michal have any children or not? Retrieved from http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/joshua-esther/did-michal-have-any-children-or-not.
- Colley, Caleb (2005). Did Michal have children? Apologetics Press. Retrieved from http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1498.