ABC:2 Samuel 21

From BibleStrength

Verse 8 claims a contradiction here, asking "How many children did Michal, the daughter of Saul, have?"[1] also claims there is an error here in its section, "Did Michal have children?"[2]

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.[3]

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).

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.[4]

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."[5] 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.


  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from
  2. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions.
  3. Hodge, Bodie & Ham, Jeremy (2010, July 23). Feedback: Did Michal Have Children or Not? Answers In Genesis. Retrieved from
  4. Christian Apologetics Research Ministry. Did Michal have any children or not? Retrieved from
  5. Colley, Caleb (2005). Did Michal have children? Apologetics Press. Retrieved from