‘May The Lord Make The Woman Like Rachel’ Comparing Michal And Rachel -- By: John Dekker

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 64:1 (NA 2013)
Article: ‘May The Lord Make The Woman Like Rachel’ Comparing Michal And Rachel
Author: John Dekker


‘May The Lord Make The Woman Like Rachel’
Comparing Michal And Rachel1

John Dekker

Summary

The portrayal of Michal in the book of Samuel is similar to that of Rachel in the book of Genesis. Both have an older sister who is their rival for the affections of their husband. Both have an erratic father who pursues their husband. Both possess household idols called teraphim, which features in the story of their deceiving their father. Both have at least a period of barrenness. Yet there are also differences between the two women, which can be explained in terms of the portrayal of Michal as an even more tragic figure than Rachel. Careful consideration of the points of similarity and difference yields the conclusion that the allusions to the Rachel story in the book of Samuel are intentional.

1. Introduction

Many of the women in the book of Samuel have similarities to women in Genesis. This article will examine the parallels between Michal and Rachel.

According to the book of Genesis, Rachel was the youngest daughter of Laban, and had an older sister, Leah. Jacob loved Rachel, and asked to marry her. Laban agreed on the condition that Jacob work for him for seven years. However, Laban gave Leah to Jacob instead,

making Jacob work for him for another seven years in order to marry Rachel. When Jacob left Laban, Rachel stole her father’s teraphim, or household idols.

The parallels with Michal in the book of Samuel are hard to miss. Michal loves a man (David) who is working for her father (Saul). She has a sister (Merab) who is also considered for marriage to this man. Saul pursues David, and Michal uses teraphim in order to help David escape. In this way, Saul is like Laban, David is like Jacob, Merab is like Leah and Michal is like Rachel. In this article, I will discuss the relationships that Michal has with Merab, David and Saul, and explore the intertextual links with Rachel’s relationship with Leah, Jacob and Laban respectively. This exploration will shed light on how Michal is portrayed in the book of Samuel.

J. P. Fokkelman suggests that ‘an entire series of words and facts provides a foundation for a homology of Laban:Jacob:Rachel = Saul:David:Michal’.2 I will build on the work of Fokkelman, who discusses similarities and differences between Michal and Rachel found in 1 Samuel, but does not refer to Rachel in his treatment of Michal in 2 Samuel.3 Moreover, it will be seen that this homology can be extended to Lab...

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