MICHAL (Heb. מִיכַל), the youngest daughter of King *Saul (Sam. 14:49), who loved *David and was given to him in marriage after he had killed 200 Philistines (in the Septuagint – 100). Michal's father had insisted on this as the condition for the marriage contract – "a hundred Philistines' foreskins," instead of a dowry (18:27–29), hoping of course that David would lose his life in the attempt to collect them. Michal, who loved David, was given to him instead of *Merab the elder, who had been promised to him but had been given to *Adriel the Meholathite (17:15; 18:17–20).

Michal demonstrated her loyalty to David in deceiving her father's messengers, who had been sent to murder David in his own home (19:17ff.). By the time Saul's messengers discovered the deceit, David had had time to escape. Later Saul gave Michal to *Paltiel son of Laish from Gallim (25:44). When David reigned in Hebron, he asked Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul, to bring Michal back apparently under pressure from Abner, who was about to defect to David. He did in fact take her from her husband and restore her to David (II Sam. 3:12–16). No doubt the demand was politically motivated, at least in part. David was trying to induce Israel (the northern tribes) to follow the example of Judah and accept him as its king (II Sam. 2:5–7), and his marriage to a daughter of Saul who might become the mother of his successor would be an added inducement to the men of Israel to act upon his suggestion. When David leaped and danced in front of the Ark as it was brought to Jerusalem, Michal jeered that he had exposed himself "as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself." David answered her in anger, referring to his being chosen as king, "above thy father, and above all his house" (6:16, 20–23). Michal remained childless (6:23). The masoretic text of II Samuel 21:8 mentions five children of Michal by *Adriel of Meholah, but the latter was in fact the husband of Merab (see above). Some versions (LXX, the Syriac; cf. Sanh. 19b) have Merab here instead of Michal.

[Samuel Abramsky]

In the Aggadah

Michal's love for David is compared to that of Jonathan; whereas the latter saved David from Saul outside the palace, Michal did so inside the palace (Mid. Ps. 59:1). She is identical with Eglah (mentioned in II Sam. 3:5 as David's wife), and was so called because like a heifer (eglah) she refused to accept the yoke of her father (Mid. Ps. 59:4). This love was returned. Although David married Merab after Michal's death he continued to refer to "My wife, Michal" (II Sam. 3:14; Sanh. 19b). Michal's marriage to Palti (I Sam. 25:44) was illegal, since she was already bethrothed to David (Sanh. ibid.), and she had no marital relations with him (ibid.). She is stated to have worn tefillin (Er. 96a).

When rebuking David (II Sam. 6:20), Michal made a forceful comparison between the modesty which Saul displayed when covering his feet (I Sam. 24:4), and David's behavior (Num. R. 4:20); it was on account of this criticism that she was punished with childlessness (Sanh. 21a).


Bright, Hist, 172, 176–7, 186; de Vaux, Anc Isr, index, S.V. Mikal; Morgenstern, in: ZAW, 49 (1931), 54–55; Stoebe, in: ZAWB, 77 (1958), 224–43; EM, S.V. incl. bibl.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.