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Melchizedek
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#1. Taken from A Supplement to Annals of The Word, Refernece CD-Rom 2003

One of the more mysterious characters of the Bible is Melchizedek. He is mentioned as visiting Abraham and is compared to Jesus Christ by Paul in Hebrews 7 (high priest forever, king of righteousness, prince of peace).

He is identified as being a King of Salem, a man of spiritual significance, and appears to be one of great notoriety.

From a historical prospective, some interesting possibilities are present. Four patriarchs of great age are alive during the time of Abraham.

Shem, the second oldest man alive and in God's genealogy, would have great notoriety.

Arphaxad, the son of Shem is alive, but little is said of him.

Salah (or Shelah) again has little said about him, but his name appears to be a variation of peace: Prince of Salem (or maybe present Jerusalem).

Eber is associated with the name Hebrews which Ussher points out, is later associated with Abraham. He also outlived Abraham.

After having said all this, Melchizedek could have been another man who met all the qualifications, lived in Salem (or Jerusalem), and was the spiritual leader of the community there, which could have included some if not all of the above mentioned patriarchs (where were they?).

No proof, just some interesting possibilities.
 
 

#2. I.S.B.E.-- AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1996

The name is explained in  <580702>Hebrews 7:2 as “king of righteousness,” with “-i” as the old genitive ending; but the correct explanation is no doubt the one given above; compare Adoni-zedek in Josh 10:1, where Septuagint with <070105>Judges 1:5-7 has Adonibezek. Melchizedek was king of Salem (= Jerusalem) and “a priest unto [’El `Elyon]” (<011418>Genesis 14:18). He brought bread and wine to Abraham after the latter’s victory over the kings, and also bestowed upon him the blessing of [’El `Elyon]. Abraham gave him “a tenth of all,” i.e. of the booty probably, unless it be of all his possessions. <011422>Genesis 14:22 identifies Yahweh with [’El `Elyon], the title of the Deity as worshipped at Jerusalem; and so <580701>Hebrews 7:1 ff, following Septuagint of <011418>Genesis 14:18 ff, calls Melchizedek. “priest of God Most High,” i.e.Yahweh

Hebrews 7:1 ff presents difficulties. Where did the author get the material for this description of Melchizedek? (1) Melchizedek is said to be “without father, without mother, (i.e.) without genealogy”; and (2) he is described as “having neither beginning of days nor end of life”; he “abideth a priest continually.”

The answer is perhaps to be had among the Tell el-Amarna Letters, among which are at least 6, probably 8, letters from a king of Urusalim to Amenophis IV, king of Egypt, whose “slave” the former calls himself. Urusalim is to be identified with Jerusalem, and the letters belong to circa 1400 BC. The name of this king is given as Abd-Khiba (or Abd-chiba), though Hommel, quoted by G.A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 14, note 7, reads Chiba. Zimmer, in ZA, 1891, 246, says that it can be read Abditaba, and so Sayce (HDB, III, 335b) calls him [`ebhedh tobh]. The king tells his Egyptian overlord, “Neither my father nor my mother set me in this place: the mighty arm of the king (or, according to Sayce, “the arm of the mighty king”) established me in my father’s house” (Letter 102 in Berlin collection, ll. 9-13; also number 103, ll. 25-28; number 104, ll. 13-15; see, further, H. Winckler, Die Thontafeln von Tell-el-Amarna; Knudtzon, Beitrage zur Assyriologie, IV, 101 ff, 279 ff, cited by G.A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 8, note 1).

It thus becomes clear that possibly tradition identified Melchizedek with Abd-Khiba. At any rate the idea that Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, (i.e.) without genealogy” can easily be explained if the words of Abd-Khiba concerning himself can have been also attributed to Melchizedek. The words meant originally that he acknowledged that he did not come to the throne because he had a claim on it through descent; he owed it to appointment. But Jewish interpretation explained them as implying that he had no father or mother.
 
 
 

#3. Easton’s Bible Dictionary- AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1996

king of righteousness, the king of Salem (q.v.). All we know of him is recorded in <011418>Genesis 14:18-20. He is subsequently mentioned only once in the Old Testament, in <19B004>Psalm 110:4. The typical significance of his history is set forth in detail in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. 7. The apostle there points out the superiority of his priesthood to that of Aaron in these several respects, (1) Even Abraham paid him tithes; (2) he blessed Abraham; (3) he is the type of a Priest who lives for ever; (4)

Levi, yet unborn, paid him tithes in the person of Abraham; (5) the permanence of his priesthood in Christ implied the abrogation of the Levitical system; (6) he was made priest not without an oath; and (7) his priesthood can neither be transmitted nor interrupted by death: “this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”

The question as to who this mysterious personage was has given rise to a great deal of modern speculation. It is an old tradition among the Jews that he was Shem, the son of Noah, who may have survived to this time. Melchizedek was a Canaanitish prince, a worshipper of the true God, and in his peculiar history and character an instructive type of our Lord, the great High Priest (<580506>Hebrews 5:6, 7; 6:20). One of the Amarna tablets is from Ebed-Tob, king of Jerusalem, the successor of Melchizedek, in which he claims the very attributes and dignity given to Melchizedek in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
 
 
 

#4. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary- Vol. 2- AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1996

(king of righteousness). King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the most high God (Elion; used by Balaam, <042416>Numbers 24:16. The Phoenicians so named their chief god according to Sanchoniathon in Enseb. Praep. Event.,

836 doubtless from primitive revelation). After the slaughter of Chedorlaomer

Melchizedek met Abram in the valley of Shaveh (level), the king’s dale (<011417>Genesis 14:17-20; <101818>2 Samuel 18:18), namely, the valley of the upper Kedron, where Absalom long afterward reared a pillar; adjoining Jerusalem. Salem was the oldest, the poetic name (<197602>Psalm 76:2), Jebus was the next name, and Jerusalem is the most recent name. This favors the view that Siddim, Sodom, and Gomorrah were to the S. of the Dead Sea. Abram in returning from Dan to Hebron would naturally take the route by Jerusalem (Thomson, Land and Book, 2:31). Adonizedek = lord of righteousness corresponds; being also the name of a king of Jerusalem (<061001>Joshua 10:1).

 “Brought forth bread and wine” (<092518>1 Samuel 25:18), hospitably to refresh Abram’s weary band (which, though not referred to in Hebrews, reminds us of the Lord’s supper), probably after sacrificing animals the first fruits of the spoil (as Philo, de Abr., asserts, epinikia ethnee); as indeed <580803>Hebrews 8:3 proves, for the “blessing” and “tithing,” which alone are recorded, are not enough to constitute priesthood. Abram “the friend of God” recognized him (probably having received some divine intimation) at once as his spiritual superior, and this in a day when every patriarch was the priest of his family. Melchizedek disappears as suddenly as he came. Almost a thousand years elapse before the next notice of Melchizedek (<19B004>Psalm 110:4.) “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou (Messiah) art a priest forever after the order (i.e. ‘the similitude’ <580715>Hebrews 7:15, the office) of Melchizedek”: i.e. I Combining the kingship with the priesthood (<380609>Zechariah 6:9-15, especially <380613>Zechariah 6:13).

David cannot be the king priest; he could bring wrath on, but not effect an atonement for, his people (<102417>2 Samuel 24:17). Uzziah, heir of his throne, incurred leprosy by usurping the priesthood (<142616>2 Chronicles 26:16-21). The divine (<580720>Hebrews 7:20) oath accompanying this priesthood, but not the Aaronic, shows its unparalleled excellency. David died, and the Aaronic priests could not continue by reason of death (<580708>Hebrews 7:8). The Aaronic priesthood was “made after the law of a carnal commandment,” but the Melchizedek priesthood “after the power of an endless life,” as is declared a thousand years later than the psalm (<580701>Hebrews 7:1-3,15,16-28). Melchizedek was probably of Semitic stock, for Shemites were in Palestine before the immigration of the Canaanites (Hamites).

By the time thatAbram arrived “the Canaanite was then (already) in the land” (<011206>Genesis 12:6). 837 II Melchizedek is introduced “without father, without, mother, without descent” being recorded, whereas this was an essential in the Aaronic priesthood (see <150262>Ezra 2:62,63; <022909>Exodus 29:9,29,30; <032113>Leviticus 21:13,14). This is a second peculiarity of Messiah’s priesthood, that it is not derived from another before Him, and “passeth not to another” after Him (<580724>Hebrews 7:24 margin). The “without father,” etc., refers to Melchizedek officially not naturally. Melchizedek was without father, etc., i.e. sacerdotally he was independent of his descent, unlike the Aaronic priests, who forfeited the priesthood if they could not trace their descent (see <160764>Nehemiah 7:64,65). Melchizedek had no fixed beginning or end of his king priesthood, such as the Levitical priests, who began at 30 and ended at 50 years of age. Christ as man had “father, mother, beginning of days and end of life, and descent” genealogically traced (<580703>Hebrews 7:3).

Melchizedek therefore cannot have been absolutely without these; but officially he was without them, even as the antitypical priest Messiah was officially and sacerdotally without them. Messiah was not of Levi, but of Judah, so did not receive His priesthood by inheritance. He did not transmit it to any successor; nay, the term hiereus (Latin: sacerdos) is never applied to apostle, presbyter, deacon, or any Christian minister in the New Testament Aaron’s “end” is recorded, Melchizedek’s not. With Melchizedek the king priesthood in Canaan ceased; but Melchizedek’s priesthood lasts forever in the Antitype, who is from everlasting to everlasting, and to whom Melchizedek was “made like,” for the archetype of Messiah’s priesthood existed in the divine mind from everlasting before Melchizedek. Doubtless Melchizedek had father and mother by birth, but as king priest had no predecessor nor successor.

III The Aaronic priesthood was local, temporary, and national; the Melchizedek priesthood was prior to the Levitical temporary law, and so world-wide and everlasting. The Aaronic high priest claimed no authority over other nations. Melchizedek was priest not only to his own city Salem, but is recognized as such by Abram the representative of God’s church and people; and the king of Sodom tacitly acquiesces in this claim to an universal priesthood. This is the significance of the title, priest of “the Possessor of heaven and earth.” Melchizedek is the first and the last who by God’s appointment, and in God’s name, exercised the priesthood for Shemite and Hamite alike, the forerunner of gospel universality which joins under Christ all of every race (<480328>Galatians 3:28; <510311>Colossians 3:11; <451012>Romans 10:12). 838 (IV) Melchizedek was superior to Abram, in that he Blessed and received tithes from him (the giver’s token of acknowledgment that all his property is God’s), and so was superior to Levi and the Aaronic priesthood which were in Abram’s loins.

So Messiah is infinitely above the Antonio priests. (V) Melchizedek as king of righteousness (tsedeq) and of peace (salem) was “made like unto the Son of God,” Messiah, who is both in the highest sense (<230906>Isaiah 9:6); the peace He brings is “the fruit of righteousness” (<233217>Isaiah 32:17; <242306>Jeremiah 23:6). As Balaam was a true prophet among the heathen, so Melchizedek was the king priest among them; but at Melchizedek’s time the nations had not so far apostatized from the primitive faith as subsequently. Melchizedek is the first designated koheen, “priest.” God Himself called him to the office, according to <580501>Hebrews5:1-4; <19B004>Psalm 110:4.

As priest, Melchizedek authoritatively mediating between God and man first” blessed Abram” on the part “of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth,” who would make Abram heir of the world which is His; next “he blessed the most high God” on the part of Abram for His having delivered his enemies into his hand. Reciprocal blessing, happy exchange; God making over His gift of the world to Abram, and Abram giving to God all the glory of his victory an earnest of his final universal possession (<460322>1 Corinthians 3:22; <450413>Romans 4:13).
 
 
 

#5. Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (pp. 2552–2553). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

7:1. For this Melchizedek. Melchizedek appears only briefly in the Old Testament (Gen 14:18–20; Ps 110:4), but our author minutely scrutinizes him in his epistle. The preliminary discussion presented in these verses is taken from the historical account in Genesis. Who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings. The capture of Lot during the battle at Sodom between four northern kings and five southern kings caused Abraham, with 318 men, to pursue them. After defeating them near Damascus, he turned south with the people and goods which had been plundered. Melchizedek, King of Salem (later called Jerusalem) and priest of the most high God, brought out food to feed them and blessed Abraham. Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s priestly status by giving him a tenth of all the spoils.

2–3. Being by interpretation. The writer sees in Melchizedek a type or figure of Christ and begins to express the parallels which he sees between the two. The word interpretation (Gr hermēneuomenos) might better be rendered, “by the translation of his name” (NASB). His name means King of righteousness. His position as king of the ancient city-state of Salem made him also “king of peace,” since Salem means peace. Thus, by name and location he is king of both righteousness and peace, two attributes that link him in type to Christ. By emphasizing the silence of the passage, the author is able to establish many parallels within the typology. Without father, without mother. What is true of Melchizedek (the type) only because of silence is intrinsically true of Christ (the reality). Melchizedek is without parents only in that they are unknown. He is without descent in that his genealogy has not been preserved, as verse 6 implicitly states. Genealogy was essential to a priest, for under the levitical system one could not serve if he could not prove his pedigree (cf. Ezr 2:62; Neh 7:64). Melchizedek had no papers. Similarly, in His divine person Christ was indeed without father or mother, without genealogy. Melchizedek is without beginning and ending due to silence; so is Christ due to His eternal nature. The author explicitly states his point when he declares that Melchizedek is made like (Gr aphōmoiōmenos), or resembles, the Son of God. Has the author taken too great a liberty with his typology? No, for it is God Himself who first made the similar connection in Psalm 110:4, “… Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is God who decrees that Melchizedek’s priesthood is everlasting. Abideth a priest continually. Our author concludes exactly that which God had proclaimed earlier—Melchizedek’s priesthood continues. The present tense indicates that Melchizedek is a priest, not that he was a priest.

Some have understood these verses in Hebrews to suggest that Melchizedek was a theophany, an appearance of Christ Himself, rather than a historical king at Salem. Neither Hebrews nor Genesis, however, supports that view. Even in Hebrews, such phrases as made like unto the Son of God (7:20) and after the order of Melchizedek (vs. 20) seem to indicate a clear distinction between Melchizedek and Christ. The Genesis account provides sufficient historical data to disallow the idea that this is a temporary manifestation. This Melchizedek was a king of a literal city in Canaan. The setting of Genesis 14 is unlike any of the settings involving a theophany. In those settings the theophany is recognized as the Lord or is declared within the text to be the Lord (Gen 16:7ff.; 18:1ff.; 22:11ff.; Ex 3:2ff.). Further, to argue from etymology that since the name means “king of righteousness,” Melchizedek is not historical, lacks substance. Both historical and archaeological evidence demonstrate that the Jebusite kings of that area used compound names including “-zedek” for their titles. For example, Adoni-zedek was the Jebusite king of the same city several centuries later (Josh 10:1). For an extensive treatment of this subject, see James Borland, Christ in the Old Testament, pp. 164–174.

8–10. Here men that die receive tithes. In these verses the author marshals two ideas that will not allow any to think that the more recent levitical order was a replacement of the earlier system. First, the levitical system is weakened by the continual death of its priests. The Melchizedecian order, however, has the witness of God (vs. 3; Ps 110:4) that its priest lives on. Second, Levi, also … paid tithes in Abraham. The levitical system was neither a better nor a later replacement, for in a corporate sense even Levi was present at the Genesis 14 event. The author is cautious in his assertion, as his introductory words indicate: As I may so say. The phrase might more clearly be expressed by “I might almost say” (Dods, p. 310) or “so to speak” (NASB). The author suggests that there is a sense in which even Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek. He cannot be Melchizedek’s superior.

c. A priestly order which is unending. 7:11–25

Though the author has repeatedly referred to the unending nature of the Melchizedecian order, this now becomes the central point. But before developing the positive aspects of this, he addresses the weaknesses of the levitical system. The Old Testament bears witness within itself to the provisional nature of its priesthood.
 
 
 

#6. Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Heb 7:1–27). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

7:1–17 The identity of the strange figure Melchizedek has been the subject of considerable discussion. Two major possibilities seem to exist: (1) Melchizedek is an actual historical person in whom Abraham recognized a superior spiritual authority. The mystery which surrounds his appearance in Gen. 14:18 and his further mention here is due largely to the limited historical information about him in the text of Scripture. (2) A second approach is to see in Melchizedek a theophany or Christophany (cf. Is. 6:1, note). The latter view is supported by these factors: (a) the name Melchizedek, meaning “king of righteousness” (v. 2); (b) the designation “king of peace” (v. 2); (c) the possibility that the lack of recorded genealogy mentioned in v. 3 is due to actual lack of ancestors, rather than the mere absence of historical record; (d) the affirmation of the author that Abraham was blessed by his superior (v. 6); and (e) the assignment of Jesus to the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek (vv. 11–17). Note also that the paying of tithes by Abraham preceded the dispensation of the Law (v. 2). The entire seventh chapter may be divided as follows: (1) the characteristics of Melchizedek (vv. 1–3), (2) the relation of Melchizedek to the Levitical priesthood (vv. 4–10), and (3) a comparison of the Levitical priesthood to that of Christ (vv. 11–28).

7:11 “Perfection” means “completeness” and in this context indicates making men acceptable to God. “Another priest” was necessary because the Levitical priesthood, with its laws and sacrifices, could not make men acceptable to God.

7:25 The word translated “uttermost” has been understood by some to mean “completely,” as with the woman whose body could not be completely straightened (Luke 13:11). Also, the meaning of “forever” is attested by extrabiblical Greek. Either rendering fits this context well.

7:27 The high priest did not make daily sacrifices for his sins, but when he did sacrifice on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), it was necessary to offer first for himself. The meaning is clear: Christ always intercedes for His people but never offers sacrifice for Himself.
 
 
 

#7. Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

The Melchizedek Order

of Christ’s priesthood is vividly brought out in the seventh chapter. The ancient King-priest is there seen in the mysterious majesty of his person and in the dignified grace of his ministry. We are shown how his biography, given in Genesis 14, was so framed, both by omission and by insertion of detail, that he might prefigure the person and work of Christ. His regal name, “King of righteousness,” and his locality, Salem (or peace), show how the priesthood of the Lord Jesus is characterized by peace bestowed on a basis of divine righteousness. The parentage of Melchizedek, the length of his ministry, and his death are all withheld. And thus, by curtailment of the narrative, he is “made like” Him who, in point of fact, as “the Son of God,” is without beginning of days or end of life.

The superiority of Christ’s priesthood is next seen with reference to Melchizedek’s ministry.

Firstly, under the Law the people paid tithes to the Levitical priests. But Abraham, their forefather, paid tithes to Melchizedek. So virtually, Levi paid tithes to him (vv. 4–9).

Secondly, Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, and the lesser is blessed by the greater (v. 7).

Thirdly, those who received tithes under the Law were “men that die”; not so with the record concerning Melchizedek (v. 8).

Fourthly, Christ sprang from the royal tribe of Judah, which had no connection with the Levitical priesthood; and a change in the order of the priesthood necessitates a change in regard to the Law. Christ, though born under the Law, was not made a priest under it, as Aaron was. The change lies in this, that the Levitical priests were made “after the Law of a carnal commandment,” but Christ “after the power of an endless life” (lit., an indissoluble life, neither changing nor passing away). So there is “a disannulling of the foregoing commandment, and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh to God” (vv. 18, 19). That is to say, the change in both Law and priesthood is not only constitutional, it is also administrative, not only in character but also in effect. The Law could never make men fit for God, nor bring them nigh to Him. Through Christ both are effected (vv. 11–19).

Fifthly, no oath accompanied the appointment of the Aaronic priesthood. Its transitory character was unsuited to that. Inviolability is an essential feature of Christ’s priesthood. The divine oath, uttered after the Law (see Ps. 110:4) “appointeth a Son, perfected forevermore” (vv. 20–28). God’s oath confirms the inviolable character of that for which it is given. The Levitical priesthood was purely official, Christ’s has a greatness that is personal. Herein lies its attractiveness.

Sixthly, for this reason Christ has become “the Surety of a better Covenant” (vv. 20–22). The measure of the superiority of the new covenant is the measure of the superiority of the priesthood of Christ. Human need was not met under the old; it is fully met under the new. God’s oath and Christ Himself are the guarantee thereof.

Seventhly, the former priests were many; death prevented their continuance; Christ’s priesthood does not pass from one to another (v. 24). By reason of all this “He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.