Tag Archives: Michal

Amazing What People Respond–And Don’t–To

Oh, Michal.

Writing about someone for over five years can be exhausting and painful. You search for facts but also need to know others’ perspectives. It opens my eyes when people have different views which makes me consider my material. Over five years, I’ve attempted to contact different kinds of people with a variety of opinions.

The people who have a generally positive view of Michal have thoughtful insights—sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t, but I like hearing from them just the same.

Then there are those who take a negative approach to define her character…

Let me tell you about these people. They might include her in an anthology. Or a book on marriage. Sometimes to make a better story, they smear her name. I try to reach out regardless to know how they came to certain conclusions. Perhaps they don’t actually consider her overall story. Correction: they don’t at all. Maybe that’s why I haven’t heard from these people. Not one single response from them in my five years of research and writing about the Israelite princess.

If one Anti-Michal contacts me, I will put blue streaks in my hair this summer. Maybe red. I’ll leave it up to my readers. I will definitely post it.

Now I know Michal is not alive but I am still very protective of her and want to take the hair dye an extra step further. If an Anti-Michal says “I’m sorry,” I’ll also take a reader to a steak dinner.

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She Lives With Angels: Others’ Views of Michal and Catherine

 

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Okay, since November 25 was Catherine of Braganza’ birthday, I decided to add another post about her…

If you look around my blog, you might discover that I’m writing a biography of Michal,King  David’s first wife, and the similarities she shares with other princesses. Now,  I don’t imagine Michal looking like any of those princesses.

The last princess I’d ever compare Michal to in physical appearance is Catherine of Braganza. As I was doing some online Michal research, I came across a website about biblical woman and was taken aback that the author, Elizabeth Fletcher, inserted Catherine’s portrait into a her Michal post.  Ironic, isn’t it?

rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

Catherine_of_Braganza, by (after) Dirk Stoop

I emailed her about my project and asked why she used Catherine’s picture. She responded:

“I used her face because the emotions on the Princess’s face seemed to sum up what Michal must have felt…I see sadness, real grief and the beginning of wisdom/understanding in the Princess’ face, even though she is so young. It is a subtly tragic face, and no other image I’ve seen fitted Michal so well.”

That makes sense.  Neither princess foresaw the struggles they’d face. Dirk Stoop’s painting of Catherine before her marriage to Charles screams naïve.

It would be a mistake, however, to judge the two women solely on that portrait. As I mentioned in my earlier post about Catherine , you can see her story unfold with her further portraits.  She transformed from a neglected princess bride into a calculating queen. I cannot rule out, though, both princesses might have carried a certain sadness described by Ms. Fletcher.

Did Catherine ever view herself as Michal?  Neither produced an heir, and both saw their husband as father to many. Even if she didn’t, others made a connection during her lifetime.

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I was surprised to discover John Dryden and Nahum Tate’s 1681/82 allegory poem, “Absalom and Achitophel” in which they based Michal off of Catherine. Michal/Catherine gets one of the more favorable edits:

Such was the charge on pious Michal brought
Michal, that ne’er was cruel e’en in thought.
The best of queens, the most obedient wife,
Impeached of cursed designs on David’s life,
‘Tis scares so much his guardian angel’s care.
Not summer morns such mildness can disclose
The Hermon lily and the Sharon rose,
Neglecting each vain pop of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high;
She lives with angels, and as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below,
Where, cherished by her bounty’s plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile and orphans sing

Whether the two women can be considered angels, the stanza lets the reader know the risks they took to help others.

It’s a relief I’m not the only one to remember and liken Michal to figures thousands of years after her death.

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

My “summer” project is completed! This means the basic things I wanted people to know about Michal got posted.  Below are the posts that are in more of a chronological order.

  1. Summer Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of Saul
  2. The Lord Looketh on the Heart
  3. A Family Reference Guide
  4. Early Life and Traditions
  5. Her Physical Appearance
  6. Michal in the Movies
  7. David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins
  8. Manipulation and Marriage
  9. The Good Wife
  10. The First Window Scene
  11. Why Michal Didn’t Run Away and Why David Didn’t Rescue Her
  12. The Battle of Gilboa
  13. Relationship Rumors and Allegiances
  14. Trail of Tears
  15. Blessed Are the Peacemakers
  16. Persuasion, Party, and Murder
  17. The Assassination of a King
  18. Reacting to Wives, Concubines, and Children
  19. The Ark of the Covenant and Fight Chapter
  20. Treason and Queens Making Scenes
  21. Possible Psychological Effects on Michal (Just a Few)
  22. David’s Calf?
  23. Understanding Michal—Easier When You’ve Been In Her Place

Copyright (c) by herstoryline.com and Sarah Patten

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Understanding Michal–Easier When You’ve Been in Her Place

I’m no Michal expert.

I just  try to pull her story together.  There are other women who relate to her more than I do. I relate to her, but once certain women know the basic facts of her story, they would have more powerful insights on Michal’s character and her decisions.

A lot of Michal’s outburst came from a culture–the culture of royalty–that few understand. Women have vocalized how they relate to Michal after comparing aspects of their lives to hers.

For example,  poet Rachel Bluwstein wrote a poem that compared her love and hate for a man by linking herself to Michal. She explored the question: is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time? To love and hate someone is another psychological phenomenon that’s been studied more in depth the last couple years. It is something very real.

Then there’s the desire for children. For some of us, it seems nearly impossible.  I was impressed with blogger Suzanne Burden’s beautiful post “Barren Guilt By Association” who now sees Michal in a new light since they shared similarities. Even though we don’t live in biblical times, not having children is still painful beyond words.

I respect women who do what they can to do add to society. The kind of women who are like Michal. Who fight for what they believe in. Who sometimes are the victims. But victims turn into heroes by conquering themselves. They recognize and appreciate their victories.

I have the strongest feeling Michal wouldn’t want anyone to give her the full fledged label of “victim.” She would want to be known as a hero. Her example of sacrifice and bravery make her one. It’s time for her critics and sympathizers to grasp this and let others know of this heroine.

 

Further Reading:

“Barren Guilt By Association” by Suzanne Burden 

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The Good Wife

The rabbis say Michal was a model wife. I believe it. The Midrash says that though she wasn’t required to, she wore the tefillin—scriptures on bands that could be worn around the forehead and arms. This was a reminder of how God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt as well as a sign of a clean mind and body.The Greek  word for tefillin is “phylacteries” which means to guard and protect. Whether Michal wore the tefillin or not, I believe she was prayerful, remembered scriptures, and for sure she protected David.

I have no doubt she strove for perfection. She supported David. The following Bible verses show she  cherished him very much:

“And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. And Saul was yet more afraid of David” (1 Samuel 18: 28-29)

I’ve seen emphasis more of why Saul was afraid of David. And I agree with the common consensus: Saul was scared because he was even losing support from the people in his family. If that happened, he could lose the support of the nation.

What I also get from this verse is that Michal was helping out David. A lot. She wasn’t just this princess brushing her hair longing for her prince. She was a princess at work. She was a good example of a Israelite, military wife and princess. She would have showed her support for him when she was out in public and when he was gone.

The scriptures say from the start that David is wise and well-behaved but he continues to grow and gain more support following both the mentions of Michal and Jonathan’s love. Like Jonathan, Michal would have also tutored him on royal behavior. Shortly after his marriage to Michal we see that “David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:30) Good job, Michal!

I’ll agree that Michal was attracted to the handsome hero, but I believe she looked more on the heart. Saul sent David on dangerous missions, and whatever Michal did he while he was gone, scared Saul. Rabbi David Kimhi said that Saul was scared of David because she found out Saul’s plots to kill David and prevented them.

Saul hoped David would die on these missions and that David being away from Michal would prevent the newlyweds from starting a family. Saul probably didn’t want his daughter producing an heir that would support David. Likewise, later on it seems David didn’t want have children with Michal because he wanted to prevent the blood of Saul from inheriting the throne.

But she still loved him. I wish with all my heart that she did had children. She was very deserving. I also wish the Bible gave more details about her show of love and how she stopped Saul’s plots to kill him. Jonathan gets credit his multiple rescues but she had been hard at work even before her famous heroic window scene.

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

“Tefillin” Wikipedia article.

1 Samuel 18

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Manipulation and Marriage

After David and Goliath…

I read a fictional book and an article where it said Michal stole David from her older sister, Merab. That Michal manipulated David into marrying her. If that’s true, I actually think that deserves applause. Alas, I don’t think that’s the case. I have to say, though, that1 Samuel 18 is a game of manipulation.

The chapter starts out with Jonathan loving David, the two making a covenant, and Jonathan demonstrating he would do whatever it took to make David king. Don’t underestimate the friendship between Jonathan and David. Between tutoring David of royal duties and training him to become a warrior king, they had to have talked about other stuff…

Saul talked to David about marrying Merab at first. David could marry Merab if he swore his loyalty and fight for Saul. For me, David seems to be putting on an act when he responded: “What am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel that I should be the son in law to the king?”

There’s no mention of Saul pressing this matter on him, but the next verse reads: “But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.” (1 Samuel 18:17-19)

If David had a preference for either Merab or Michal, it’s likely Jonathan would know. He would know and do something about it. Or perhaps Jonathan and David discussed who would be better suited for David as a wife. Whatever the case, I’m sure Jonathan—who would save David’s life and prove that he could persuade his father—would have stepped in.

The plan for Michal to marry David could have been in action before this. Certainly, now that one of two daughters was married off, David wanted the single one for his wife and something had to happen. I believe Jonathan was instrumental in the plan.

Verse 20 sparks suspicion from two opposing sides–those who think David wanted Merab and those who think he wanted Michal. The verse reads:

“And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.”

Yes, now that Merab was unavailable, it seems people come up suddenly and speak of Michal’s love. There were things going on behind the scenes. But I hardly believe Michal could have orchestrated this plan by herself.

Besides, we’re told already all Israel and Judah loved David. So it wasn’t as if people came forward saying, “Guess what? Your young daughter also loves David!”

That wouldn’t have been news to anyone. Surely the readers must realize this.

The verse is vague. A question that should arise is who exactly is “they”? Most likely Saul’s servants but perhaps other servants. Did Saul send them to Michal and ask if she was interested in marrying David? Or was she and possibly Jonathan plotting with them? Michal’s love was perhaps something Saul wanted to hear.

Here was Saul’s thought process and commands to his servants:

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:21-22)

At first David has the same reaction as he did when Saul presented the idea of marrying Merab:

And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. “And David said, Seemeth it to you light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?” (1 Samuel 18:23)

Saul wasn’t about to let David go this time. Was he getting counsel from someone? If so, the whom? Perhaps Saul had made David an offer before, but David didn’t take it. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say David was being coached.

Back to the chapter and what happens after David’s passive answer:

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David. And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:24-16)

Whether David was pleased to be on his way to coming king or/and couldn’t wait to marry Michal. He doesn’t mind he could marry her. It’s kind of strange actually. He puts his whole heart in the deadly mission.

“Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins” (1 Samuel 18:27)

Saul had no choice but to let Michal and David marry. Instead of Saul manipulating the situation, David won this battle.

Jonathan had made a covenant with David. Now Michal also made a covenant with David through marriage. She would be a good wife.

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David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins

Going WAY back. To better times…

It’s hard to know when Michal actually met David. He was already a minor celebrity when, through word of mouth, got the the appointment as one of the king’s musicians. Before coming to court, he was anointed as Israel’s next king.

Saul and his household appreciated the peace he brought to court. Through Saul’s disobedient and perhaps through the traumas of battles, the evil spirit that plagued Saul left when David played. Good music is good therapy.

Very few knew of David’s call to be king at this time. He would have been more observant of Saul and his family than they were of him. There was something special, though, about this harp player that impressed Saul and others. Yet, Saul inquired more about him after he defeated Golaith. David then became a resident in the royal household.

Is This Not a Cause?

Oh, yes, we need to discuss David and Goliath.

There was terror—even from Michal’s brave father—with the threat of Goliath. There were rumors. David picked up on some when he acquired what’s up by men on the roadside. Goliath was feared and David heard some men say that “The man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:25-27)

Did he hear that right? David asked if it true, and the people were confident that the victor would get those great prizes.

David’s oldest brother, Eliab, was taken aback when he heard David’s conversation. I find David’s reply a little enlightening. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29)

Or a couple. Did you pick up on anything? Or anybody? Basically this was a nice lead way into gaining access to kingship.

And daughter? The passage doesn’t specify Michal or her older sister Merab which I find interesting. Perhaps David didn’t care which daughter as long as marrying one of the king’s daughter got him closer to being king. Still I find it curious that Merab’s name isn’t inserted.

David was young. Most likely too young to marry now according to Saul. Merab and Michal were surely young—maybe not even considered women yet. For sure they were going to get married since it was in their father’s best interest to make alliances.

Happy Days

It was a happy day for Israel when David defeated Goliath. Israel was pumped and chased the Philistines. David moved into the royal household.

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David had got what was promised. Almost. He was still too young to marry Saul’s daughter, but the idea was planted in his head. David always got what he wanted. Always.

I mentioned before how David would have found Michal appealing. The chances of marrying a rare Benjaminite woman of her position, were out of his world. Of course Merab fit the same criteria, but Michal was also the younger daughter. Biblical tradition shows the eldest daughter was married off first. As we see in the Jacob, Leah, and Rachel story, a younger daughter is more of a challenge to get. The more challenging, the better for David.

Sources:
1 Samuel 17

Images:
David gegen Goliath by Gebhard Fugel
David Slays Goliath by Gustave Dore

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Treason and Queens Making Scenes

Sadly, it’s sometimes  better to be seen than heard when you’re in situations like Michal.  Men get off easier if they say something similar.

Paintings, photographs, and just visual appearances at public events can be more effective than words if princesses want to make a point.

But sometimes, you can’t help yourself…

Here are some notable examples.

Princess Diana and BBC’s Panorama Interview

Princess Diana decided she could outdo her husband, Prince Charles, again after he gave a televised interview in which he admitted to adultery. Other people were getting to her too. The pressures, anger, and frustrations of Diana were enough for her to agree to BBC to interview her. She secretly set up an interview with Martin Bashir. She had her staff take the night off.

It was the evening of November 5. In England that happens to be Guy Fawkes Night. November 5, 1605 was when Guy Fawkes, who planned to blow up Parliament (which included the King), was caught. People celebrate Fawkes’ capture with fireworks. Little did people know that on November 5, 1995, there was treason and a different kind of fireworks going off. Diana spoke out against her husband, the monarchy, and other people who she felt betrayed her. She reflected how much she loved her husband—yet at the same time she wasn’t showing much love.

At first she felt good about it, but later regretted it. The Queen asked she and Charles get a hasty divorce very soon afterwards.

8499071865_a0915616b7_oTheir son William was reportedly extremely upset by it. Some people left her service including her secretary Patrick Jephson. In a special called “Behind the Panorama” he posed the question of why people in the public eye “feel the need” to do things in public.

The question is as true today as it was in the Bible.

Queen Sophia Magdalena’s Scene at the Opera

When Danish princess Sophia Magdalena arrived in Sweden in 1766 to marry Prince Gustav, he and the rest of the Swedish people seemed happy. Their relationship was strained due to gossip. She was more introverted and came off as cold.  Her mother-in-law, Louisa Ulrika, smeared her image right from the beginning.

When Gustav became King and Sophia became Queen, rumors about their personal relationship and political activities grew worse. When Sophia heard that Gustav planned to take away their son away from her, she made a public scene at the opera. She went to his box and confronted him about it. A verbal fight broke out between the two. Before she left, she said, “I will have my vengeance monsieur! I give you my sacred vow on that!”

Could this fight have waited? Perhaps she felt the urgency and maybe it was one of the only times she could talk to him. I think it was only a matter of time before everything just blew up.

Daughter of Saul

When you first read 2 Samuel 6, it’s like, what? Where did that can from?

Remember Michal was dropped from the narrative for a while but was behind the scenes. After we know more of what she went through and learn why and about how other royal women similary took (and still take) a stand publicly, it totally makes sense. Truthfully, I would have been more surprised if Michal had not put up a public fight.

 

Sources:

“Princess Diana: Behind the Panorama Interview” Documentary

“Princess Diana ‘regretted’ Panorama interview”taken  fro m The Telegraph article  by Richard Alley, 15 Dec 2007
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1572605/Princess-Diana-regretted-Panorama-interview.html

Princess Sophia Magdalena of Debmakre Wikipedia page

Ensam drottning. Sofia Magdalena 1783-1813. [Lonely Queen. Sophia Magdalena 1782-1813] by Gerd Ribbing

Images:
TIME cover Mar 11-1996 Princess Diana.  Posted by manhhai at https://www.flickr.com/photos/13476480@N07/8499071865

 

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Michal: Possible Psychological Effects on Michal (Just a Few)

I read an article about how Michal is a bad example because of her show of bitterness when she confronted David in public. I left a comment in hopes the writer visits this website. First, I’d like to say that though she and I have complete opposites views on Michal, I think it’s a well written article. Secondly, I wish to expand on the “bitterness” I hope no one will ever have to experience, and yet so many do.

In this post I wish to talk about the psychological effects certain events might have had on Michal.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this field, but I truly believe Michal, those close to her, all of Israel and its opponents went through some sort of trauma. Michal’s life was literally a war. Soldiers and families of soldiers lost what and who was dear to them.

Anxious about many things
Here are some “things”—or traumatic ordeals—that I believe produced grief, survivor’s guilt, and post trauma stress disorder:

  • Lone survivor. Michal was far away from close family and was one of the last children—if not the last—of Saul and his wife, Ahinoam. Her father and brothers were slayed in battle. Shortly after she and Abner returned to David, Abner was killed. She didn’t die. Ishbosheth was brutally murdered and his head was presented to David. Was she happy to be alive or guilty she survived and hadn’t been with her family at their deaths?
  • Moving. In general, it’s stressful and can place strains on family life—especially marriage. Being sent to Patil and then back to David was dramatic. If she had started to feel settled in Hebron, David’s household moved again—this time to Jerusalem. The move to Jerusalem was especially stressful because more women were added to David’s harem.
  • The other families. There’s no mention Michal and David had children together. The hurt she felt at seeing his other families must have been beyond horrible. Even nowadays, there is a stigma in some religious cultures if a woman can’t reproduce. I said “culture” and not the religion itself. There are examples of good women in the Bible who did nothing wrong and yet had no children. Yet, there were still those that looked down on them.

I think there is so much to what Michal was going through emotionally at this time. I will discuss one more possible scenario that I believe is one of the most important. It is..

The Window Flashback
The serious reader compares the passage of “Michal, Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw David leaping before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16) to the time she showed her love when he helped David escape out of the window. It’s a literary device yes, but Michal had more of a serious flashback than the reader.

That night when Michal saved David’s life was terrifying. Was she  reliving it? Was she scared she was going to be taken away again? The fact that he was taking time celebrating and had been talking to everyone—even in front of the “handmaids of his servants”—  gave Michal time to think and anger to build up. She might have planned to humiliate before this event happened, but the commotion and noise coming from the celebration (2 Samuel 6:5) might have made her physically shakier.

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The night Michal let David down through the window was both a heroic and traumatic night.

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Did Michal experience a serious flashback when she saw David dancing through her window?

She took the offensive, but really she was defending herself. It might have been her way of coping. She might have been wondering why he hadn’t come for her and was taking his time to come to her. Only Michal knows the terror she felt that night when the guards and Saul came in to kill David. Or when she was given to another. Even if she had had no physical harm done to her, she was in a position that someone she loved (David) had been closed to death.

As I said before, I’m no expert and don’t know exactly how Michal felt. I haven’t gone through the trauma Michal experienced, but I have gone through lesser experiences that led to counseling. Let’s remember that emotional and psychological illnesses have always been real. We have more of an understanding of them today but still are learning. Though religious, Michal and David didn’t know how to help each other. More churches and religious leaders today see the necessity of counseling.

 

Paintings by Gustave Dore and Francesco de’Rossi

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Michal: The Ark of the Covenant and Fight Chapter

I’ve decided to include some of 2 Samuel 6’s highlights. (Read to the end of the post for some of my  commentary.)

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And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart…And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house…David returned to bless his household

And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

 And David said unto Michal, It was before theLord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

Ouch! You know what? Both were right. Both were wrong.I think both had valid, solid points.

A king, in Michal’s honest opinion, shouldn’t act that way. He wasn’t reflecting modesty on the exterior and perhaps he wasn’t really modest inside. David said he meant to praise the Lord. (A common tactic of David’s.)

This fight greatly affected both their lives and the rest of Israel’s future. I call 2 Samuel 6 “Michal’s Mistake and David’s Downfall.” Or more appropriately, “The Beginning of the End. “

Painting by Francesco Salviati