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Paltiel was the son of Laish. With the death of Saul, Paltiel’s fortunes changed dramatically. One moment, he was husband to the king’s daughter, perhaps destined for a place in the royal court himself. The next moment, he was alone— having lost the bride who was not rightfully his in the first place.
Paltiel belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, the same tribe as Saul, Israel’s first king. Saul had promised his daughter Michal to David in return for killing one hundred Philistines—and bringing back some rather unpleasant proof of his achievement. Saul thought he was sending David on a suicide mission; but much to Saul’s astonishment, David succeeded—killing twice the required number of Philistines. Saul kept his promise, allowing David to wed Michal who was, conveniently enough, in love with David.
However, Saul continued his efforts to kill David, believing him a threat to the throne. At one point, Michal had to conspire against her own father in order to save David’s life. Realizing he was no longer safe in Saul’s presence, David fled, leaving Michal behind.
In David’s absence, Saul took it upon himself to annul David’s marriage, disowning him, and giving Michal to Paltiel instead. Perhaps Saul considered Paltiel a safer choice of a son-in-law. Since he belonged to the same tribe as Saul, Paltiel was more likely to remain loyal to the king.
The great irony is that Saul delivered this insult in between two encounters with David where the latter spared the king’s life. Eventually, Saul died in battle with the Philistines, and David prepared to take the throne that was his by divine appointment. When Abner, Saul’s military commander, defected to David’s side, the soon-to-be king made one demand: David wanted his wife back. Michal was escorted from Paltiel’s house to David’s, Paltiel following behind in a rather pathetic display until Abner ordered him to turn back.
Michal was taken from Paltiel and returned to David on orders from Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul who attempted to sit on his father’s throne until he was murdered. Perhaps sensing the weakness of his own position—or perhaps hoping in vain to appease his rival to the throne—Ish-bosheth complied with David’s demand.