Category Archives: Royalty

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Michal: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Call her a pawn but could Michal wanted to go back to David? Conflicts have arisen about this since she spent more time with Patil than with David. Or some say she really wanted to go back—others go beyond that and say she just wanted to go to be associated with the king.

It was unsafe to be rescued or escape. Not just for her ad David, but for others. Did she soften hearts or was hers hardened with she was with those who probably despised David? Did she keep some people from chasing after him? To answer that last question, yes. Yes she did by staying.

There was too much bloodshed in her country already. After he father and three of her brothers were killed, Saul’s house and David’s house engaged in a long war—what was the expected outcome? Land? To get loyal subjects? Included in the winner’s package was Michal. Have we ever realized that part of this war was fought for her? She was used as a pawn and bait.  She was a girl worth fighting for.

She was a very valuable pawn but maybe a little more powerful than we think. But how do you really stop of war?

David proved to have more advantages as the war with Saul’s house continued. (2 Samuel 3:1) He was the one who declared he wanted Michal back. (2 Samuel 3:14) And she went. It wasn’t a simple walk though. She stilled had security guards—most notably her husband, Phaltiel (2 Samuel 3:16)

I assume that spending so much time with the Benjaminites made her care more for them. Whatever she felt about Patil, her strong connection with the other Benjaminites mattered. Too many kin and members of her tribe were dead. Israelites who weren’t part of either Benjamin or Judah were suffering from the two tribes’ conflicts.

When Michal was offered to go back with David, she accepted. It’s very possible she might have fought against it. Was she physically forced? I’m not saying she went back willingly, but it was a duty she completed for the sake of a nation. She was a peace offering but had little peace herself.

There’s a void of what happened between Ish-bosheth’s death and Israel accepting David as king but it would be interesting to know how David succeeded. Swords, arrows, alliances, and good advisors helped but who really brought the civil war to a close? With her hard work, smart moves, and sacrifice, Michal was the woman who put David on the throne.

Matthew 5: 9
2 Samuel 3

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Michal: Relationship Rumors and Allegiances

Okay, the ever popular question surrounding Jonathan and David:Was Jonathan gay?

I don’t know the answer to that. But I wonder how Michal felt about the close relationship of her husband and brother.

I see the Princess Caroline of England (1713-1757) relating somewhat to Michal in this case. Caroline was childless and unmarried which caused grief—especially when it came for her love toward a certain Lord Hervey. He was married, bisexual, had affairs with the ladies at court and possibly with Caroline’s brother.

Now I think David was a noble man who followed God’s commands—including polygamy. It’s a known fact that many people in the Bible struggled with it. Though David was lawfully married to his other wives (before the real craziness), it would be difficult to know of his other wives with children. I also don’t believe David was gay, but he recognized Jonathan’s love publicly: “thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26). That may have also had a crushing effect on her heart has well.

Princess Caroline died suddenly but her goodness and sadness was well-known.

As for Michal, she still lived long after Saul and her brothers died. It’s hard to imagine how she managed. She wasn’t returned to David after Saul’s death. Rather, war went on between the houses of Saul and David—started by her cousin Abner and David’s nephew, Joab.

Abner put her surviving brother Ishbosheth on the throne. It wasn’t until Ishbosheth accused Abner of taking Saul’s concubine, Rizpah, for himself that Abner decided to switch allegiances to David, the stronger house.

David sent messengers to Abner to bring him “Michal, Saul’s daughter,” and Ishbosheth that said, “Deliver me my wife Michal” to seal the deal with Abner.

And, oh, what went on when Michal found out she had to go also sparks debate…

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Michal: The Battle of Gilboa

I can’t stress enough how impossible it was for Michal and David to reunite with each other. How could she find David who was on the run? Jonathan would have made a good ally as he was also helping preserve David’s life—but was also busy serving Saul and country. He didn’t seem to have the time to fully help her. How could Jonathan drag his sister through battles to reach David where she could be killed? It was so risky. We find out just how risky it was for Saul, Jonathan, and Israel’s best soldiers during the Battle of Gilboa.

The Israelites lost at the Battle of Gilboa. The Philistines’ main strategy was to go for the leaders. They “followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons.” (1 Samuel 31.: 2) Saul was literally the main target. Archers shot him, and his wounds were fatal. The Israelites were losing, and to Saul, it was pointless to go on. He asked his armor bearer to kill him with his sword, but the armor bearer couldn’t bring himself to kill his king. An Amalekite fulfilled Saul’s death wish. After Saul died, the armor bearer killed himself with the sword. (2 Samuel 1: 8-10)

Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua and choicest men were slain by the Philistines. This battle is full of blood and loyalty—people did care for their king and country. Even Jonathan, whom Saul had nearly killed times, fought beside his father. Jonathan, who “loved David like his own soul,” protected showed he would have died for David, (1 Samuel 18:3 ) but he still loved his father and fought for the same cause. As part of the army, he also had made allegiance to Saul that he would die for him. He ended up dying with him. Jonathan “So Saul died, and his three sons, and his amour bearer, and all his men, that same day together.” (1 Samuel 31:6). In David’s psalm, How Are the Mighty Fallen, “In their death, they were not separated.” (2 Samuel 1:23)

“How Are the Mighty Fallen” can be seen as a form of propaganda with an objective to get Saul supporters on David’s side. It is genuine as David showed compassion to Jonathan and Saul at past moments when it would have been easy to kill Saul.

David didn’t want Gath (home of the Philistines) to know the details of Saul’s death “lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice” (2 Samuel 1:20). He wants Israel to know of a mighty king’s death. In contrast to the daughters of the Philistines, he says, “ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel” (2 Samuel 1:24) He’s telling Israel to look at the wonderful things Saul did for them, and if gossip comes up about him (which always does with royalty), the talk among gossips should be positive.

This psalm could also be reaching out to Michal. How fast did it reach her and how was it received? The psalm expresses a range of emotions into already mixed feelings she held towards her father. Saul did look after her while taking away who she valued most. Now that person was praising Saul which raised confusion. Yet the death of her father and three brothers would have taken a greater toll on her than the rest of the country. She was living in an area extremely loyal to Saul who would have met their king and kinsmen’s death with more distress than the other tribes of Israel.

David really wanted Israel to know—especially the Benjaminites and Michal—that he was very sad over the death of Saul. The song is beautiful, but who was nearer to comfort her? Patil and others who were loyal to Saul, and in a literal sense, closer to her than David. It was the perfect setup for Michal to be manipulated. Michal probably heard David’s song, but it didn’t totally reach out to her. The sorrow David expressed is touching, but could the song have fell flat to a wife who made sacrifices for him?

David finishes his psalm mourning the loss of Jonathan. Michal would have been sad over his death too, but as David’s wife, there was a possibility that she was offended by a particular line about David and Jonathan’s relationship: “Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26) Michal was tough, but that line could have put her over the edge. Her father had died in a shameful way, and three brothers were killed in that same battle. Could such losses ever be forgotten?

 

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Michal: David’s Calf?

Another heartbreaking moment of Michal’s story is when we read the list of David’s wives and children. Michal’s name is not mentioned anywhere. However, according to Jewish tradition, she is present in this list with a son. See if you can guess:

“Now these were the sons of David, which were born unto him in Hebron;
The firstborn Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
The second Daniel, of Abigail the Carmelitess:
The third, Absalom the son of Maachah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur:
The fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith:
The fifth, Shephatiah of Abital
The sixth, Ithream by Eglah his wife.”

Did you use the process of elimination? Well, it’s the last one mentioned.

Eglah.

At first is seems rather far-fetched, and I think it’s almost too good to be true. However, I do like the reasoning of rabbis and some other reasons from myself.

Rabbis say that Michal has to be included on this list according to laws of kingship and the cap Nathan put on the limit of David’s wives.

Besides math, there’s etymology going on.

Eglah means heifer. A calf.

Here are some insights from others and myself about Michal being Eglah:

  • Michal was David’s favorite wife. According to rabbi Louis Gibzberg, Eglah could have been David’s pet name for Michal because he valued her as a prized calf.
  • Rabbi  Mordechai Torczyner refers to midrashes that offer the Michal Eglah connection. One midrash says Michal trembled like a calf because she wanted Saul to think she was afraid of David (Midrash Shemuel 22:4) Another midrash says Michal is like a wild calf since she wouldn’t accept the yoke of her father (Midrah Tehillim 59:4).
  • If indeed Michal is also known as Eglah, there’s another comparison between her and great, great, etc. grandmother, Rachel. Eglah means “calf” and Rachel means “ewe.” Both valued animals.
  • The last backup is the very definition of “heifer.” The basic definition: “female cow who hasn’t given birth to a calf.”  There are variants which expound such as the Oxford Dictionaries’ addition of: “or has borne only one calf. ”

My verdict of the Michal is Eglah theory:
I still go back and forth if Michal is Eglah. I can only conclude that I believe Michal was David’s most valuable wife for various reasons.

 

 

Sources
1 Chronicles 3:1-3

Deuteronomy 17:17

2 Samuel 12

“Michal, daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah” by Tamar Kadari  http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/michal-daughter-of-saul-midrash-and-aggadah, (Visited on September 19, 2015)

The Family of David in The Legends of the Jews, Vol. 4 by Louis Ginzberg

On-line Tanach Class:
Michal by Mordechai Torczyner, http://ohave.tripod.com/chumash/michal.htm  (Visited on September 19, 2015)

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/english/heifer (Visited on September 19, 2015)

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American Girl Rooting for the Queen

Queen Elizabeth has always been there. Growing up, it was as simple as the sky is blue. My mom explained how she was a figurehead when I asked the power of the Queen. I’d see the Queen on TV from time to time. It was the 90s—not the happiest decade for royals. Every morning in sixth grade, my class would watch some of the daily news. “Have you noticed Queen Elizabeth never smiles?” asked my teacher.

Huh. I thought she did but since I didn’t see her too often I repeated that comment at home. My mom said, “What? I’ve seen her smile!”

Shame on me. I should have known that! Yes, I too have seen her smile—quite a bit actually. In the last five years of my life, I’ve studied intensely the lives of royals. Elizabeth wears a variety of expressions. Whatever expression on her face, she seems to be pondering something. While researching her past or current events, it’s quite difficult to paint an exact portrait of the Queen. When I see her, I think of how she’s proven so many people wrong.

The American Girl Collection books make me proud to be an American girl and draw close to history. Without American Girl, I wouldn’t be as patriotic as I am today or passed the A.P. U.S. history exam. Anyway, I also wouldn’t have loved the Queen so much. We can thank Happy Birthday, Molly, by Valerie Tripp, for that.

Molly, who grows up during World War II,  makes friends with an English girl, Emily, who’s come to America for safety. Emily, shows her pictures of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as little girls and then as young women contributing to the war effort. Like Molly, this reader is in awe. A little girl grows up to be something spectacular thanks to hard work. She’s awesome! I mean who would have predicted  Elizabeth to reign for at least 63 years?

However long the Queen reigns, we won’t know fully her impact until years later. Perhaps many generations down the road.

 

Feautured Image: Stamp of Elizabeth’s Coronation by Edmund Dulac. June 3, 1953

Source:
Happy Birthday, Molly by Valerie Tripp

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Michal: Michal In the Movies

Since we’re on the subject of Michal’s appearance and that she’s due to be in three screen  productions this year, I thought I’d briefly talk about her appearance on screen as a young woman. The three actresses differ in physical appearance (in 2015), most notably their coloring—light, olive, and dark. Lovely, diverse, and twenty-first century.

Go back to 1960’s David and Goliath. Michal is played by Guila Rubini, an Italian actress with light skin, dark hair, and resembles legendary beauty Elizabeth Taylor. Interesting that Elizabeth Taylor, appeared on screen in 1963 as Cleopatra just with more makeup and skin showing. Their style is similar.

According to the Internet Movie Database, there are more than twenty actresses who portrayed Michal. That’s not including the modern retellings and characters she’s inspired (such as Snow White/Mary Margaret in ABCs Once Upon a Time).

If producers want the Michal character want to be pretty, it depends on times and audience.

Sources:
imdb.com:
Cleopatra movie 
Michal’s character page  

Image of Hollywood from https://commons.wikimedia.org

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Michal: Her Physical Appearance

According to Jewish tradition and texts like the Talmlud, Michal was so beautiful, married men would be tempted to leave their wives for her.I can’t say what Michal looked liked for sure. No one can. So people dive into the cliche question–was she pretty or ugly? I can’t answer that  fully either.

But I have formed some theories about her looks and attractiveness by going back to the Bible.

The Unique Look of Benjaminites
During the reign of the judges, the tribe of Benjamin nearly became extinct due to the vicious fights with the other tribes of Israel.  None of the other tribes wanted their daughters to marry into the tribe, So the Benjaminites married local maidens of Shiloh. Thus, the tiniest tribe had a makeover.Their new look would have set them apart from the other Israelites.

Immediate Family
The King James Version of the Bible describes Saul as: “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (1 Samuel 9:2)

Other versions like the New International Version replaces some words and reads “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.”

Though different versions and translations of the Bible use different word choice, the meaning is same.

Simply put, Saul was the tallest and best looking man in Israel.

Did Michal inherit her father’s good looks and height? We don’t get any description of her mother, but because Saul was the tallest man in Israel, she probably was on the taller side. She definitely wasn’t ugly.

 

One of a Kind
The Benjaminish woman was somewhat of a novelty item in Israel. It all started the moment Jacob saw Rachel (mother of Benjamin). Benjaminite women were rare during the reigns of the judges, Saul, and David,. Many, many centuries later, the king chose Esther as queen out of multiple maidens.

Rachel, the Shiloh women, and Esther were all specially  handpicked to be wives. I believe Michal was as well.

David would have found Michal appealing.

Imagine. A shepherd from the tribe of Judah marrying a woman from the tribe of Benjamin. A poor boy marrying a princess. Absurd!

David liked the impossible—and obtaining Michal was impossible.

Sources:
Photo from pixabay.

On-line Tanach Class: Michal taught by Mordechai Torczyner
(http://ohave.tripod.com/chumash/michal.htm)

King James and New International Version of the Bible: Judges 21, 2 Samuel 9: 2, Book of Esther.

800px-The_British_royal_family_on_the_balcony_of_Buckingham_Palace  own work by Carfax2

Michal: A Family Reference Guide

Hopefully this will help when I refer to certain people in Michal’s life.

The Royal and Loyal Family of Saul

Parents

  • Father: Saul
  • Mother: Ahinoam

Brothers

  • Jonathan
  • Abinadab
  • Malchishua
  • Ish-bosbeth

Sister

  • Merab

Notes: Though Michal is younger than Merab, Michal may or may not be the youngest of Saul and Ahinoam’s children. Sons are usually listed first in the Bible. Merab and Michal could have been sandwiched in between the brothers. Jonathan is most likely the oldest because of his early military victories and giving David  special military armor that probably symbolized being next in line for the throne.

Other Notable Relations:

  • Abner (first cousin once removed)
  • Shimei
  • Rizpah (Father’s concubine)
  • Armoni (Half-brother; Rizaph’s son)
  • Mephibosheth (Half-brother; Rizpah’s son)

Nephews

  • Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son)
  • Five others (Merab’s sons)

Spouses:

  • David
  • Phalti

Children:

  • None (disputed)

 

 

 

Sources:

  • Image: The British royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, June 2013–author: Carfax2
  • The Royal and Loyal Family: 1 Samuel 14:49-50, 1 Samuel 18: 4
  • Notable relations: 1 Samuel 14:50; 2 Samuel 16:3; 2 Samuel 21:7-8; 1 Samuel 25:44)
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Michal: Why Michal Didn’t Run Away and Why David Didn’t Rescue Her

Some  say David betrayed Michal by leaving her behind, and others say Michal was okay with marrying Phalti. Some of the latter go beyond that and say she could have escaped.

I found more fault with David because he saved two other wives on the run (1 Samuel 30) Why couldn’t he save her? But Michal had proved herself clever in the past. So why didn’t she find a way out?

I’m excited to say I found the answer—it was too unsafe.

Just how unsafe would be a rescue mission? The answers are found in the short verses that give Phalti a description—and some follow up examination.

 

“But Saul had given Michal, his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.” (1 Samuel 25:44)

In order to make Michal disappear from David’s life, Saul gave his daughter to someone in a geographic area he could trust.

Let’s examine this “Phalti son of Laish, which was of Gallim.”

Michal was given to man loyal to Saul. His name and the locations point toward him being a Benjaminate since he resided in Benjaminite territory.

Laish is the name of land that the prophet, Isaiah, associated with Gallim(Isaiah 10:30). “Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish.”

Phalti was either native to the land of Laish or his father shared or gave his name to the territory. Gallim is thought to belong to the tribe of Benjamin and north of Jerusalem. (To see a map and more information take a look  at http://bibleatlas.org/laishah.htm)

 

“And her husband [Phalti] went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim.” (Samuel 3:15-16)

This description of Phalti occurs when Michal returns to David.

Though some of David’s mighty men hailed from Bahurim (2 Sam 23: 31), David preferred to stay alive. Any association with David, and your life was in danger.  A woman had to hide two of David’s messengers there. (2 Samuel 17:18)

The time David did venture into Bahurim was years later and he was now king of Israel. Still, he didn’t get respect.

“And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth and cursed still as he came.” (2 Samuel 16:5)

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Shimei throwing stones at King David in Bahurim.

 

David kept his peace and pardoned Shimei (then) for downright treason. Shimei threw stones and made piecing remarks at David’s dysfunctional family.  David was lucky enough not to be assassinated. He probably would have been killed by Saul’s men when Saul was king, and  he wouldn’t have been able to reach Michal.

 

Conclusion

David wanted to please the Lord and fulfill his calling by becoming king of Israel. Sadly, that prevented him her from rescuing Michal. Michal might have realized this, but she still had to stay alive in order for David to fulfill his calling—a huge act of faith on her part.

Michal probably experienced more pain than the reader can imagine when she found about David rescuing his two other wives. But living in such a guarded place prevented her from running away. Maybe she tried, but it wouldn’t have worked. It would have been hard to make allies in a land so loyal to Saul. It’s very likely Saul had spies. He surely received reports of events.

David would have been committing suicide if he went as a fugitive to rescue his wife. It’s possible he sent some men there. If that happened, though, they would have been killed. Even after Saul died, there was a war between the houses of David and Saul. David and Michal were powerless to reunite with each other.  Michal and David were united as soon as it was possible.

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Notes:

Bible: King James Version.
For the summary of Michal’s storyline, click here.

Image:
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860. By Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld .

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Michal: Early Life and Traditions

The younger daughter of King Saul and his wife, Ahinoam, was born during a time of war and political change. They named their daughter Michal.

There’s a debate of what the name “Michal” means.

  • The first possible meaning is “Who is like God.” If this is the case, her name would be a feminine form of the boy name “Michael” and a possible variant of her name would be “Michelle.”
  • The other possible meaning is “little stream. ” This is also spiritual in nature as the Bible connects streams to God’s creations and powers. The name “Michal” is one of the most popular baby names for girls in Israel today.Huge picWilliam-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_At_the_Edge_of_the_Brook_(1875)While we don’t know much about her childhood, there are definite things she would have learned from a young age.

Michal’s Education

  • Virtuous, Israelite Woman: A woman in Israel would know the importance of loving and obeying God. Michal was fortunate that she and her family had close connections to the prophet Samuel. She would have learned to be a dutiful wife who was expected to give her husband children.
  • Benjaminite: The small tribe of Benjamin had an interesting reputation among the other tribes of Israel .They were loyal and fierce fighters to the very end despite being small in numbers. The tribe had close calls when it came to being extinct but they would make a comeback. Benjaminite parents taught their children to be proud of their heritage.
  • Princess: The public would expect the best from the royal family. Michal would have been taught how to deal with crowds—how to charm them and when to ignore people. Her father had been especially good at that in his early days as king. At the end of one of his speeches, Samuel backed him up. The people shouted “God save the king.” There were those, though, who doubted Saul’s ability to protect them, but Saul, “held his peace”. He went on to defeat enemies, and more people accepted him gladly as king.

It’s important to remember that Saul’s early glory days were admirable. Very soon after we’re introduced to Saul, we know Saul was the most righteous man in Israel and a die-hard Benjaminite.Right after Samuel anointed Saul as the Lord’s chosen one, he gave further instructions for Saul to go to Rachel’s sepulcher. That was Saul’s first stop on a literal journey to gain followers that led to national victories.

Rachel’s sepulcher held significance to Israel, but it was most sentimental to the tribe of Benjamin. It illustrates the bravery the tribe of Benjamin value and a good role model—especially for Michal.

The Story of Rachel and Jacob

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Jacob (later called Israel) had traveled far. As he came to the well, he asked the men if they knew Laban, whom he was seeking. The men said yes and pointed out Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel, approaching the well with the sheep. Rejuvenated, Jacob opened the mouth of the well and watered the sheep under Rachel’s care. It seemed as if it was love at first sight. He kissed her and the shepherdess went running to her father.

After discussion, a deal was struck. After Jacob labored for seven years under Laban, he would marry Rachel. Jacob said, “I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.”  Laban agreed and said, “It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man.” For Jacob seven years felt like “a few days, for the love he had for her.”

But that Laban was slick. Seven years later. When the time came for the marriage, he swapped Rachel for her elder sister Leah on the wedding night. When Jacob confronted his father-in-law the next morning, Laban said in his country it was tradition to marry the older women first. But Laban hastily added, Jacob could also marry Rachel the following week if he worked seven more additional years.

Jacob paid double the bride price, but “he loved Rachel more than Leah.”

In Old Testament stories that mention love between two people, only one individual is said to love the other. It’s not necessarily unrequited love.   In the case of Rachel and Jacob, we’re told how Jacob loved Rachel, but not if she loved him. But judging but her devotion to him, we can assume she did.  We know Leah pined for Jacob. After she gave Jacob his first son, she said, “Now therefore my husband will love me.”

Again we can assume that Leah also loved Jacob—and yet—there’s no direct mention of her actually loving Jacob.

Jacob cared and provided for his wives and children. Rachel, though, would always hold the most special place in his heart despite Leah giving him six sons and Rachel giving him two sons.

Rachel displayed bravery as she traveled pregnant and went into labor. It was a “hard labour.” The baby lived but she did not. In his grief, Jacob set up a pillar in tribute to Rachel and named the baby “Benjamin.”

Benjamin surviving was a miracle. His mother Rachel was a hero to his descendants. Though Michal probably liked this story, she couldn’t have expected just how much she would relate to the well-remembered matriarch.

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Sources:
1 Samuel 9-11, 14
Genesis 29, 35

http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Michal.html#.VZ_sUubJCUk

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/streams/

http://babynames.allparenting.com/babynames/Popular/Popular_baby_names_in_Israel/

Images:
At the Edge of the Brook by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel by William Dyce