Did Michal Have Any Children? 2 Samuel 6:23, 21:8

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether Michal had any children. 2 Samuel 6:23 says that she did not, and 2 Samuel 21:8 says that she did.
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick Answer

    <p>There is a textual variant for 2 Samuel 21:8, and "Merab," is probably the better translation there, especially since Merab was the one who was married to Adriel (1 Samuel 18:19).</p>

    <h2>The argument</h2>

    <p>Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether Michal had children or not. For the verse that supposedly says that Michal had children, we will present both the NKJV and ESV translations, which are significantly different.</p>

    <h3>Michal did not have children</h3>

    <blockquote>
      <strong>2 Samuel 6:23</strong> - And Michal the daughter of Saul <strong>had no child to the day of her death</strong>.
    </blockquote>

    <h3>Michal had children</h3>

    <blockquote>
      <strong>2 Samuel 21:8 (NKJV)</strong> - So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of <strong>Michal</strong> the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite;
    </blockquote>

    <blockquote>
      <strong>2 Samuel 21:8</strong> - The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of <strong>Merab</strong> the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite;
    </blockquote>

    <h2>The solution</h2>

    <h3>"Bore to" and "Brought up" in the NKJV are the same Hebrew word</h3>

    <p>Although one possible solution could be the Michal simply "brought up" the children of Adriel, this is probably unlikely, since the verbs "bore to" and "brought up" in 2 Samuel 21:8 are the same Hebrew word. It's possible that the translators saw the problem with Michal bearing children in this verse and used another translation of the Hebrew word to "fix" the supposed problem.</p>

    <p>As we will see below, there is no contradiction that needs to be fixed in this manner.</p>

    <h3>Some ancient manuscripts say "Merab" instead of "Michael"</h3>

    <p>Some ancient manuscripts, namely, some copies of the Septuagint and the Syriac, say "Merab" in 2 Samuel 21:8 instead of "Michal."</p>

    <p>If this is the correct translation, and there is good reason to believe it is, then "Michal" is simply a copyist error and there is simply no contradiction between 2 Samuel 6:23 and 2 Samuel 21:8.</p>

    <h3>Merab was married to Adriel</h3>

    <p>It is extremely likely that "Merab" is the correct translation for 2 Samuel 21:8 because Merab was married to Adriel.</p>

    <blockquote>
      <strong>1 Samuel 18:19</strong> - But at the time when <strong>Merab</strong>, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, <strong>she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife</strong>.
    </blockquote>

    <p>It's very unlikely that Michal, who was David's wife, would have bore children to Adriel, who was not her husband.</p>

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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