A few days ago, I wrote a blog concerning Barzillai, that he was an interesting character. As I continued reading, I read a Scripture about Barzillai which confused me. The reason I was confused is that I didn't read the Scripture closely enough. Upon closer reading and study, I am no longer confused. When reading the Scripture, there is value in taking your time so that you know who and what you are reading about.
When reading 2nd Samuel 21, not only was I confused about Barzillai, I was also confused about the sons of Michal.
In this chapter, we find that Israel is experiencing a famine. David enquires about the cause of the famine. He finds out Israel is experiencing the famine because Saul had slain the Gibeonites. David asks the Gibeonites what would make atonement for the sin of Saul, so the land of Israel would be released from the famine. They responded that seven of Saul's sons be hanged, verse 6.
In verse 8, we see those who were chosen by David to pay the price. We find in this Scripture the 5 sons of Michal whom she brought upfor Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.
As I read this passage, 2 different things capture my attention and confuse me. First, Michal was David's first wife. Why would David chose her son's to be the ones slain? Also, David had just recently blessed Barzillai. Barzillai sent food to David when David left Jerusalem as Absalom was attempting to overthrow David.
I decided to study this passage a little closer. I consulted my commentary by John Gill. Here is what he has to say.
"and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; Michal had no children to the day of her death, nor was she the wife of Adriel, but Merab her sister, 1Sa_18:19; wherefore these sons were not whom she "bare", as the word used signifies, but, as we rightly render it, whom she "brought up" or educated, so the Targum, her sister being dead; and so the Jews say (k), Merab brought them forth, and Michal brought them up, therefore they were called by her name; or the words may be supplied thus, "and the five sons of the sister of Michal", and, as in 2Sa_21:19, is supplied, "the brother of Goliath". Barzillai is here called the Meholathite, to distinguish him from Barzillai the Gileadite, spoken of in a former chapter, see 2Sa_17:27."
The confusion is really simple to explain. Michal had no children becasue she was barren. This are the children she raised for her sister. Now, because she raised them, I am sure this was a difficult experience for her. An experience which we may not understand. Yet, we must remember, the culture of the children of Israel was different than the culture in which we live.
Also, we understand, the Barzillai mentioned in this chapter, is not the same Barzillai mentioned in chapter 17. So, David doesn't bless Barzillai in one chapter, and have his sons slain a couple of chapters later. These are 2 different men named Barzillai, one a Gileadite and one a Meholathite.
The lesson is this: if you seem to be confused by something you read in Scripture, by digging a little deeper, the confusion can often be cleared up.