Category Archives: Scriptures

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 .

copy hugeHuge picWilliam-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_At_the_Edge_of_the_Brook_(1875)

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

Rachel_WilliamDyce

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

Maciejowski_Bible_Leaf_37_3

Michal:Trail of Tears

The princess was going back to her beloved prince. It should have been a fairytale ending. But real stories with real princesses and princes seldom do.

In this case, the woman was being led back to her husband she was separated from for nearly two decades. In back of her, her other husband was “weeping”.

Finally the man leading the entourage addressed the weeping man. It’s a short passage:

“Go, return. And he returned.”

Michal couldn’t turn back though. She needed to go forward and gather more courage than ever.

She had experienced fearful situations. But was she fully prepared for the terrors that awaited her?

72px-Rose_of_sharon_Icon.svgNotes and Sources:
2 Samuel 3
Image: Abner sends Michal back to David from Maciejowski Bible (Morgan Bible)

 

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Summer’s Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of King Saul

There’s David and Goliath. Then David became king. A huge thanks goes out to Michal, his first wife and daughter of King Saul.

So what’s the story of Michal? Here’s the basic rundown:

She married David, saved his life, and her father married her to another man faraway. Nearly twenty years later she came back to her first husband’s home.

While we don’t know exactly what happened to her during those two decades, we know what she came back to: her first husband, now king, plus his wives and kids. A very big blow.

Then her last appearance occurs when she and David have a public spat over his actions when he brought the sacred Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

Commentators have taken different sides. Some have smeared her image and others elevate Michal. The princess had many enemies and allies during both her life and after her death.

This summer, I wish to share some of my findings about her. They include:

  • What the Bible says—and doesn’t say—about her.
  • Common princess problems.
  • Portrayals of her, including those on primetime TV.
  • Events in the past, her times, and future.
  • Possible psychological effects.

This summer, I hope you will get to know the real Michal.

Stay tune!

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Normand,_Ernest_-_Queen_Vashti_deposed_-_1890 (2)

Biblicial Heroines Vashti and Esther: Court Life Has Always Been Controversial and Cruel

Royals. Love them or hate them-they’re an enigma. Tons of debate about their behavior, clothes, and marital problems have been present in the tabloids for years. The Bible also includes royal gossip–and its damages. Here are some of my thoughts about the decisions of the biblical queens Vashti and Esther.

Vashti

Vashti Refuses the King's Summons, painting by Edwin Long

Vashti set a good example by not appearing to the king and his fellow drinking buddies

 

As a girl, I would have to squint my eyes a lot.
I still do.

I found myself squinting when hearing people tell the story of Esther:
“It starts out with a wicked queen.”

Okay…so I looked it up. The Bible doesn’t refer to Queen Vashti as wicked. This is what happened…

There’s a party, and Queen Vashti doesn’t come before her husband when he orders her. His male guests have been drunk for “many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.”  Plus some scholars think that the king just wanted her to come with nothing but her crown on.

So Vashti doesn’t come. A dangerous thing to do, but think about it. What perverted thing was likely to happen if she had come—appearing undressed—to a party full of drunk men?

Enter villains: The king (a quasi-villain and weak character) with his advisers—the( not-so) “wise men.”

According to them:

“Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all princes and to all the people that are in the provinces of the King Ahasuerus.

For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes…likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.”

Faced with an unfair request, Vashti had to chose between losing her dignity or losing her life.

Faced with an unfair request, Vashti had to chose between losing her dignity or losing her life.

The men felt threatened by women. They felt that Vashti set an example for women—women could stand up to their husbands. Vashti was deposed as queen; Rabbi David Eldensohn believes she was killed.

It didn’t matter what Vashti did. I don’t mean for the following comment to be irreverent but whatever decision Vashti made, she was—in one way or another—going to get screwed.

Showing up (possibly with no clothes) in front of men who were drunk for  months—something was bound to happen. No parent would want their child to go to a party like that.

( Please watch Pastor Mark Driscoll’s heartwarming take on Vashti’s decision.  :) )

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Esther

Queen Esther by Edwin Long

Esther mustered up the courage to do things she was inclined, yet scared to do.

The advisers told the king to gather virgins throughout the land and add them to his harem. The king was “pleased” with this idea. (Perverted.)

So Esther now is chosen as Queen. When I first started noticing Vashti’s situation, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with Esther. In the Old Testament, time and time again, they stress the importance of Israelites marrying in the Covenant. Esther did not. She married a man who didn’t even share her same standards.

I had a change of heart, however, when driving home one night. My mind wandered about the queens and princesses blog posts. I thought of how long I procrastinated bringing up Vashti and Esther. I thought of Catherine of Braganza and a comment by her biographer, Lillias Campbell Davidson, who said Catherine “lived in her husband’s court as Lot lived in Sodom.”  I to thought myself, “No, Catherine lived in here husband’s court as Esther lived in her husband’s court.”

Queen Esther and Queen Catherine of Braganza both had similar, selfless agendas

Like Queen Esther,  Queen Catherine of Braganza also had an  agenda to save lives

Two religious queens living in an immoral court for the sake of protecting their nations. It’s not totally right, but in a way it is noble.

The Jews were relying on Esther to stay queen so they could survive. But she had to find ways to survive if she was going to save their lives.

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What would you do if your nation was in danger? If marriage was an option over bloodshed, would you marry even a fool?

Fortunately for Esther, she wasn’t ordered to appear in front of people indecent, and remembered her faith

The other woman in the story, Vashti, was asked to do something where her actions would most likely lead to death or sexual assault.

Examining their specific circumstances, we see both women were put in unfair situations. Their behavior was examined during their lifetimes and continues thousands of years later. Read the Book of Esther and see if you don’t agree with me. Keep in mind the queens’ specific situations and outcomes. Both queens were faced with decisions that no one should ever have to make. If you were in either of their place, what would you have done?

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Sources:
The Book of Esther

Persian Queen Vashti is Killed 2500 years ago – The first feminism? (video)

Vashti made a noble, courageous, brave, moral decision (video)

http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/2381/

Images:
Queen Vashti Deposed by Ernest Normand
Vashti refuses the King’s Summons by Edwin Long
Queen Esther by Edwin Long
Catherine of Braganza by Jacob Huysman

 

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(1)

Pilate’s Wife: She Tried to Intervene For Jesus

“What is truth?”

Pilate asked Jesus that question. It’s a very appropriate one because of the confusion going on at that time. Within the last day and a half, Jesus had suffered for the sins of the world in Gethsemane which would have killed anyone else. He was betrayed, denied, and left alone by friends. He was moved from court to court being questioned by the Jewish and Roman officials for hours. Any other person would have cracked under such circumstances. But there he stood poised. What was going on? It’s no surprise Pilate “Marvelled greatly.”

Pilate’s wife probably shared those views and worries. She must have struggled with the question “What is truth?” That question—or something similar—likely hovered over her head. Somehow she knew some important truths and was brave enough to step forward. As her husband deliberated, she tried to intervene on Jesus’ behalf.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Message_of_Pilate's_Wife._Pilate_-_James_Tissot

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

800px-The_dream_of_Pilate's_wife_by_Alphonse_François

As I have pondered that verse, one word sticks out.

Just.

But Pilate was persuaded by Jewish leaders to release a robber in place of Jesus , and put Jesus to death through crucifixion. Even after the declared death sentence, Pilate still tried to convince the people not to crucify him.

He tried to prolong it and did remember the words of his wife. He said to the crowds, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person”

Though Pilate’s wife was no Martha or Mary in describing the divinity of Christ, she knew he was an extraordinary man who was innocent of all the accusations. She was not one of the women who saw the resurrected Lord, but she also had to be brave to face the future.

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(2)

A few years later, Pilate’s career plummeted, and she might have been alive when it’s thought he committed suicide. What happened to her?  She had been married to a man that Jews and Romans didn’t respect. Did she feel shame? Did she survive?

Some believe her to be Claudia, a converted Christian, mentioned in 2 Timothy. Romans were weary of Christianity and perhaps early Christians viewed her with suspicions. It would have been a dangerous life.

She was brave in her attempt to intervene for Jesus. In that way, I feel like she could be counted among the women who made sacrifices to champion Him.  I can’t help but think of a James E. Talmage quote:

“The greatest champion of women and womanhood is Jesus Christ.”

She knew little about Jesus Christ, but she was brave in sharing what she knew as truth.

 

(Click here to view a video that gives an overview of Gethsemane, Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Resurrection entitled “He is Risen: John the Beloved’s Witness of the Resurrection”)

Sources
Matthew 27
John 18
http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2009/05/pontius-pilates-wife.html
T
he Illegal Trial of Christ by Steven W. Allen
2 Timothy 4

Images:
The Message of Pilate’s Wife. by James Tissot
The Dream of Pilate’s Wife by Alphonse Francois
Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri

 

 

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Twenty-nine. Such an Awkward Number.

The eve of my birthday, I received a comforting e-card from an eleven-year-old friend who said,

I heard that you are turning twenty-nine. That seems like such an awkward number, doesn’t it? But I’m sure you’ll pull it off beautifully.”

It was even more reassuring than the other insightful articles about people who also freaked out when they turned twenty-nine. Some articles were silly, serious, and a combo.  I came across memorable quotes. Actress Helen Mirren wrote some gems:

“The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

I see where’s she coming from.

I haven’t completed the duties one has do before they reach thirty. Like travel. Do something incredibly crazy. Have a successful career Get married. Have a family.

This year might be the most frightening of all. And it’s not just about the pressures to fulfill all twenties expectations. It’s to see if I can survive. The type of attitude winning survivors put on. Some of these survivors are found on this very website.   Some who didn’t live up to their culture’s ideals while they lived their terrifying twenties. Yet, they would shine later on…

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bride-groom-new-testament_1154694_inl by Lyle Beddes

The pressure to produce posterity was perhaps greater for Jewish women in biblical times.

Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, had been expected to have children by her twenties. Did others think she did something wrong? But the Bible assures us she and her husband “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” I’d imagine that she had to make the decision if she was going to be faithful young. She had made the choice to keep all the commandments and people looked up to her. She was a sort of mentor when the young Mary stayed with her for three months.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Elisabeth’s life became more eventful as she and her son were on the run during the Massacres of the Innocents. (Luke 1:6-7, 56;Luke 11:51; Matthew 2:16)

 

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rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

At 23, the little Portuguese princess didn’t know the humiliations and scandals that awaited her in England.

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She expressed a desire to go home from early on, Perhaps it was the realization of protecting Portugal that motivated her to stay in England and dodge lurking dangers.

While in her twenties, Catherine of Braganza became queen of England. Despite striving to do the right thing, she never did produce an heir. She became a forty-seven-year old widow but had learned to survive–and she eventually thrived. During the last twenty years of her life, she accumulated more money, returned to Portugal as a hero, ruled as regent, and was a mentor and maternal figure to her nephew who later became king of Portugal.

Catherine_of_Braganza_by_Gennari

Catherine gave herself a new life at 47. She died at 67 and every inch a queen.

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Let’s recall the Barrett sisters, Elizabeth and Henrietta. By the time they were in their twenties, they lost siblings and their mother. How were they supposed to look at the world? They might have  struggled to answer. Elizabeth became a successful poet early on but still faced serious illnesses. Henrietta had loved once, but experienced heartbreak. Such losses and experiences, however, would lead to a more accomplished life.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but they wouldn't be Barretts forever!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but she and Henrietta wouldn’t be  Moulton-Barretts forever!

We wouldn’t have gotten Elizabeth’s most famous poem “How Do I Love Thee” without the hardships of the Barrett family. She wrote that sonnet among other classics in her late thirties during her courtship to Robert Browning. By age forty, she eloped with him to Italy. She became active in politics and had a child at forty-three.

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Elizabeth with her son Pen whom she gave birth to when she was 43. Henrietta had her last child at 47.

Henrietta, didn’t give up on love either. She married at age forty-one. Between ages forty-two and forty-seven, she gave birth to three children.

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These numbers and accomplishments I’m spurting out motivate me!  I’m less afraid of what I haven’t done and more excited for the future. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I admit I’m still  frightened. My sister pointed out:

“ We are constantly evolving and ever changing. I don’t think a decade defines us. We can always become something new. The gospel is one of progression, so that means we are always working toward something-not limited to our past.”

Dramatic or not, I’m thrilled to adapt plans I’m working on. I’ve decided not only to accept what I haven’t done, but also to celebrate it! Go forward with faith. Not all the best things in life have to be compacted in the twenties package.

I’ll get through twenty-nine.

And I’ll do it beautifully.

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Pictures
Painting of Bride and Groom by Lyle Beddes from lds.org New Testament Student Manuel

La Visitatio by Niolas Labbe 

Catherine of Braganza paintings:
Dirk Stoop
Peter Lely
Benedettp Gennari

Images of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are also public domain.

 

Charlotte Corday

Jael vs. Charlotte Corday: History’s Heroines or Villainesses?

The Bible’s Jael and French Revolution’s Charlotte Corday committing murder has to gone down with some of the most controversial moves in history.  It’s hard to say if they did the right thing . To understand why they did what they did, we need to look at the overall picture.

Jael

"Jael" by Spillberg

“Jael” by Spillberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barak wanted Deborah to go with him and his troops to face Canaanite army led by Sisera. Deborah agreed and told him, “The Lord shall sell Sisera in the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

When Jael saw Siseria approaching, she acted as a friendly hostess. She welcomed him in her tent, gave him milk and blanket, and made sure he’s not disturbed. Then she “took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died” (Judges 4:21).

Tissot_Jael_Smote_Sisera,_and_Slew_Him

“Jael Smote Sisera and Slew Him” by Tissot

"Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead" by Tissot

“Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead” by Tissot

She went out to meet Barak who was no doubt graetful. Thanks to Jael, Israel gained momentum in fighting Canaan.  “God subdued on that day Jabin king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan” (Judges 4:23-24).

What a wonderful and victorious ending. She killed a key captain making way for Israel to eventually kill the king.

Deborah praised Jael: “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent” (Judges 5:2)

"Deborah Praises Jael" by Gustave Dores

“Deborah Praises Jael” by Gustave Dores

 

Charlotte Corday

Charlotte Corday

“Charlotte Corday” From Evert A. Duykinck’s “A Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America, with Biographies.”

 

During the French Revolution, a twenty-four-year old gave herself a mission. She planned to kill Jean-Paul Marat.

Charlotte Corday lived in in Normandy. She sympathized with the Girondists, a political group moderates—who were not for an absolute monarchy but didn’t like where the revolution was going. She, like other Girondists, were disgusted with the politics of the Jacobins, members of a radical political club, who used terror and violence to wipe out their opponents in the Reign of Terror such as the nobles and Girondists. Jean-Paul Marat, propaganda journalist and one of the Jacobin leaders, played a big role in that and most notably in the mass killings in Paris in 1792 which became known as the September Massacres. That event and the threat of civil war motivated Charlotte to take action and take out such a threat.

Going for the Most Venerable Leader

Without telling her plans to anyone, Charlotte traveled from Normandy to Paris with the intent to kill Marat. As mentioned before, Marat was a leader of the Jacobins, but he wasn’t the head leader.  Maximillian de Robespierre led the Reign of Terror. It’s been argued if she had to kill someone, it should have been Robespierre. That would have been like going for a king which actually would have made her mission impossible. Like Jael, Charlotte was going to wipe out a captain-figure not a type of king.

You could say both Charlotte and Jael used unorthodox weapons that usually served for every day use. Jael used a hammer and stake, and Charlotte used a six-inch blade kitchen knife she bought when she got to Paris .

Charlotte planned to kill Marat in front of the National Convention.  Due to illnesses, he was unable to make public appearances. He had developed a skin disorder probably from hiding in sewers. Charlotte found out he was staying with his wife Simone.  The first two times Charlotte went to the apartment, Simone turned her away. Charlotte claimed to have a list of Girondists that were plotting an uprising. On her third attempt, Marat wanted to speak with her.

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

L'Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

L’Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

Marat’s skin condition was so serious he did his work from the bathtub. As he wrote down the names, he was unaware that he was in such a vulnerable state. Charlotte stabbed him in the chest. He yelled to Simonne, and then he died. This was followed by a huge uproar and the arrest of Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793.

Triumph?

Charlotte didn’t meet the same triumph as Jael. When Charlotte was tried, she was asked why she killed Marat.  She said she did it to save thousands. This answer had reflected Robespierre’s reaction to executing Louis XVI. Four days after killing Marat, Charlotte’s head went on the scaffold.

Did Charlotte Corday fail in her mission? It’s hard to say. She didn’t get the immediate praise Jael got for killing, but she made an immediate impact. One witness at her execution named Pierre Notelet said, “Her beautiful face was so calm, that one would have said she was a statue. Behind her, young girls held each other’s hands as they danced. For eight days I was in love with Charlotte Corday.”

"Charlotte Corday" by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

“Charlotte Corday” by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

Adam Lux, another witness, was so impressed with Charlotte Corday, he published pamphlets that deemed Charlotte’s actions justified and for freedom. He was also executed. I believe this shows that people got thinking who the actual enemy of was. It wasn’t pro-monarchs or true republicans. Those in power during the Reign of Terror didn’t have the French citizens’ best interests in mind. They were dictators who used sources, like the press, to deceive and threaten the people. There were those like Charlotte Corday who called them out.  A year after Charlotte’s death, those who corrupted the government also had a date with Madame Guillotine, including Robespierre.

Charlotte Corday went on to influence others with her patriotic zeal. Writer Alphonse de Lamartine nicknamed her the “angel of assassination” in his 1847 book Histoire des Girondins.

In 1860, France was on the road to a republic that Charlotte had desired. The Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting portraying Marat as a martyr that the Jacobins used as propaganda was literally painted at a different angle. In Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudr’s 1860 painting, Corday is portrayed as the heroine.

640px-Death_of_Marat_by_Jacques-Louis David

“Death of Marat” 1793by Jaques-Louis David. Here Marat is portrayed as martyr.

 

640px-Charlotte_Corday by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (2)

“Charlotte Codray” 1860 by Paul-Jaques-Aime Badry. Now, Charlotte is seen as the hero.

 

The Verdict

Did Jael do the right thing? Was Charlotte’s act justifiable?
I have studied the biblical text more and the Reign of Terror closer in order to come to a verdict. I’ve also considered the circumstances of war in their cases. I will not be a judge in the final judgement, but I’ve made my personal conclusions,
Jael: By killing the captain of the opposing army, Israel was able to win the battle and the war. She protected a nation by weakening the enemy. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.
Charlotte: Murdering a journalist responsible for massacres. It looked like she lost the battle, but her sacrifice was a necessary loss to win the war in finding freedom. She identified France’s true enemies. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.

Do you agree with my verdicts?  The situations are in gray areas. I see these two women acting for their great good their country. One lived to see victorious results, and the other died before she could witness the enemies’ downfalls.

Helpful information from
The Bible
wikipedia.com
alstewart.com 

 Images from
http://madameguillotine.org.uk
http://commons.wikimedia.org/