Michal, daughter of Shaul, was King David's first wife. However, after she later helped David escape from Shaul, Shaul gave her to Paltiel Ben Laish as a wife. The Talmud in Sanhedrin 19b has the account of how Paltiel, knowing that she was married to David, placed a sword between their beds and never consummated his marriage to her. When she was eventually taken back by David as his wife, Paltiel wept for the loss of his mitzvah of withholding himself from her.

כתיב פלטי וכתיב פלטיאל אמר ר' יוחנן פלטי שמו ולמה נקרא שמו פלטיאל שפלטו אל מן העבירה מה עשה נעץ חרב בינו לבינה אמר כל העוסק בדבר זה ידקר בחרב זה והכתיב (שמואל ב ג, טז) וילך אתה אישה שנעשה לה כאישה והכתיב (שמואל ב ג, טז) הלך ובכה על המצוה דאזיל מיניה

Was this really a mitzvah worth weeping over? Wasn't he in constant violation of the prohibition of secluding himself with a woman forbidden to him? Does the command of King Shaul to marry her justify this seclusion?

1 Answer 1


The gemara earlier on the same page explains that there was actually a halachic dispute between King Shaul and Dovid whether Dovid's betrothal to Michal was valid, and since King Shaul held that it was invalid he married her off to Paltiel. Thus, Michal was not clearly forbidden to him.

And as we have no way of knowing who else held like either Shaul or Dovid, we can only conjecture as to why he did not consummate the marriage but did seclude himself with her. For example, it could be that the majority of Rabbis held like Shaul, but he actly stringently according to the minority opinion with regards to the serious issue of the possibilty that she was another man's wife, but relied on the majority opinion for the less serious issue of seclusion.


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