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Was Michal Paltiel’s Wife?

The issue is this: Michal, Saul’s daughter had originally been given to David as wife. The bride price had been 200 foreskins of the Philistines (recorded in 1 Sam 18). Later, however, Saul gives Michal to Paltiel (1 Samuel 25:44). Then, in 2 Samuel 3, David gets Michal back. The difficulty comes in verse 15-16, where the text calls Paltiel her אִישׁ (“ish”). This word could mean “man,” or it could mean “husband.” Most translations have “husband.” But was Paltiel really her husband? David says in verse 14 that Michal is his wife. Plainly he does not regard the union of Michal with Paltiel to be legitimate. Furthermore, in the second passage quoted above (1 Samuel 25:44), the text makes a point of saying that Michal was David’s wife even when she was “given” to Paltiel. I conclude that the union of Michal to Paltiel was forced on Michal without the consent of either Michal or David, and was thereore illegitimate. Therefore, in interpreting “ish” in 2 Samuel 3, I would say that there are two possibilities: either the text is ironic, saying in effect that Paltiel wasn’t really her husband, or the text is simply calling him temporarily what everyone else except David was calling him.

The implications of this passage for divorce are important. This passage cannot be used to justify the belief that a second union entered into without a proper divorce is legitimate. The passage, when properly interpreted, does not say that that union was proper. This might have application today to marriages where a divorce has happened in accordance with the will of both parties. In that case a second marriage does have to be called a true marriage. In this biblical case, Michal was ripped away from David and given to someone else. That second union was not a proper marriage, and so David could take her back again, if he forgave her any willingness on her part to enter into the second relationship. What do you all think?