וַיִּקַּח הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי רִצְפָּה בַת־אַיָּה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְשָׁאוּל אֶת־אַרְמֹנִי וְאֶת־מְפִבֹשֶׁת וְאֶת־חֲמֵשֶׁת 21:8 בְּנֵי מִיכַל בַּת־שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְעַדְרִיאֵל בֶּן־בַּרְזִלַּי הַמְּחֹלָתִי׃
2Sam. 21:8 Yet the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of Michal daughter of Saul whom she bore for Adriel son of Barzillai, the Meholathite,
Among other things, the genealogy here is confusing, to say the least, and surprising and mysterious. First, is this Mephibosheth the same one mentioned in the previous verse? If so, what kind of compassion did David have for him? He still condemned him to death.
Next, Rizpah was introduced in 2Sam. 3:7 as a concubine of Saul, and nowhere except here is it mentioned that she had any children. Moreover, we have no prior information that Mephibosheth was her son. That would mean that Jonathan had had sex with her and she had borne his son(s). Then what happened to Armoni when Saul and Jonathan died? Mephibosheth was five at the time, so Armoni had to be younger. Who took care of him? And he is not mentioned either before or after this in this book.
Next, we have the reference to Michal daughter of Saul. In 1Sam. 18:19 we learned that Merab, Saul’s oldest daughter, had been given to Adriel, the Meholathite, for a wife. At some time Michal was taken by David to whom she’d been promised. But before that, Saul gave her to Palti the Gallimite (1Sam. 25:44). Whose five sons are these, Merab’s or Michal’s?. Incidentally, for some reason, the sages assumed that Michal was also named Merab. This is difficult to reconcile with 1Sam. 14:49, where both daughters are named. The only answer to this dilemma that I can conjure up is that Michal may have had the five sons before she came to David; she had no children after that (2Sam. 6:23). But this answer leaves me in the same dilemma; Michal’s son’s father is identified here as Adriel, not Palti. No reasonable reconciliation seems possible.
Finally, the mention of Barzillai at the end of the verse leaves me with one more question. Is this the same Barzillai mentioned in 2Samuel chapter 19 (see, for example, 2Sam. 19:32)? If so, he was a brother-in-law of Saul’s. That could possibly be the reason David and he were being so kind to each other. However, this Barzillai is identified here as a Meholathite, not a Gileadite.