Me'rab (Hebrews Merlab', מֵרִב, increase; Sept. Μερόβ and Μερώβ; Josephus Μερόβη, Ant. 6:6, 5), the eldest of the two daughters of king Saul (doubtless by his wife Ahinoam), and possibly the eldest child (1Sa 14:49). She first appears (BC. cir. 1062) after the victory over Goliath and the Philistines, when David had become an inmate in Saul's house (1Sa 18:2), and immediately after the commencement of his friendship with Jonathan. In accordance with the promise which he made before the engagement with Goliath (17:25), Saul betrothed Merab to David (18:17), but it is evidently implied that one object of thus rewarding his valor was to incite him to further feats, which might at last lead to his death by the Philistines. David's hesitation looks as if he did not much value the honor, although his language in ver. 18 may be only an Oriental form of self-depreciation (comp. 1Sa 18:23; 1Sa 25:42; 2Sa 9:8); at any rate before the marriage Merab's younger sister Michal had displayed her attachment for David, and Merab was then married to Adriel the Meholathite, who seems to have been one of the wealthy sheiks of the eastern part of Palestine, with whom the house of Saul always maintained an alliance. To Adriei she bore five sons, who formed five of the seven members of the house of Saul who were given up to the Gibeonites by David, and by them impaled as a propitiation to Jehovah on the sacred hill of Gibeah (2Sa 21:8). SEE RIZPAH.
The Authorized Version of this passage is an accommodation, rendering יָלדָה, "she brought up," although it has "she bare" for the same Hebrew word in the previous part of the verse. The Hebrew text has "the five sons of Michal, daughter of Saul, which she bare to Adriel," and this is followed in the Sept. and Vulgate. The Targum explains the discrepancy thus: "The five sons of Merab (which Michal, Saul's daughter, brought up) which she bare," etc. The Peshito substitutes Merab (in the present state of the text " Nodob") for Michal. J. H. Michaelis, in his Hebrew Bible (2Sa 21:10), suggests that there were two daughters of Saul named Michal, as there were two Elishamas and two Eliphalets among David's sons. Probably the most feasible solution of the difficulty is that "Michal" is the mistake of a transcriber for "Merab;" but, if so, it is manifest from the agreement of the versions and of Josephus (Ant vii. 4,30) with the present text, that the error is one of very ancient date. SEE MICHAL.