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Melchizedek the priest of God Most High...


There are many who claim that they know who this ancient priest was and they seem to use some sound logic to prove their point. Some even claim that if we don't accept their position, we could be blasphemous! What we will try to do in this article is address the claims of others and see just what the Bible actually states about this mysterious priest of the Most High God.


We will begin our search in Genesis 14. 


At this time Amraphelking of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (Genesis 14:1-12) 

Abram (which means: exalted father, but would eventually have his name changed by God to Abraham, which means: father of many) pursued the captors of his nephew. 


When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem) brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your  enemies into your hand.”                       (Genesis 14:14-20) 

Here seems to be the first clue explaining who this priest (called Melchizedek) is. He is the king of Salem (or Jerusalem). The term Melchizedek seems to be this individual's name. It is a Hebrew word that means: king of right (Strong's #H4442), in the Greek it means: a patriarch (Strong's #G3198). The term patriarch can be defined as: 1) the male leader of a family or tribe 2) any of the Old Testament fathers of the human race. So, the picture becomes a little clearer who this man was:

a priest of the Most High God
a king
the male leader of a family and/or a father of the human race


In Hebrews chapter 7, Paul writes about this priest Melchizedek:

This Melchizedek was king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. (Hebrews 7:1-5) 

Editor's note: the Hebrew word Melchizedek found in Genesis 14:18 is translated by Strong's #H4442 as King of right, not righteousness. Which can mean that his reign was characterised by peace and right actions. The idea that Abraham gave a tenth of everything would not fit into the instructions about tithes. (see: What about tithing?)


Point of contention
Many use the term: "without a father or mother; so there was no beginning or end to his life" to mean that the priest Melchizedek was actually Jesus before He took human form. They state that no other being could fit into this statement and be called "King of Righteousness and King of Peace", but we need to be extremely careful trying to apply meanings of a name to suggest that Jesus is being referenced. Moses was considered a deliverer, a prophet, an advocate, a intercessor, leader or king and all these terms can also be attributed to Jesus. Moses was a type of The Anointed One (Jesus), just as Melchizedek was a type of priest that Jesus would become:


During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)


Without father, without mother, without descent...
Which is to be understood not of his person, but of his priesthood; that his father was not a priest, nor did his mother descend from any in that office; nor had he either a predecessor or a successor in it, as appears from any authentic accounts: or this is to be interpreted, not of his natural, but scriptural being; for no doubt, as he was a mere man, he had a father, and a mother, and a natural lineage and descent; but of these no mention is made in Scripture, and therefore said to be without them; and so the Syriac version renders it; "whose father and mother are not written in the genealogies"; or there is no genealogical account of them. The Arabic writers tell us who his father and his mother were; some of them say that Peleg was his father: so Elmacinus {d}, his words are these; Peleg lived after he begat Rehu two hundred and nine years; afterwards he begat Melchizedek, the priest whom we have now made mention of. Patricides , another of their writers, expresses himself after this manner`they who say Melchizedek had neither beginning of days, nor end of life, and argue from the words of the Apostle Paul, asserting the same, do not rightly understand the saying of the Apostle Paul; for Shem, the son of Noah, after he had taken Melchizedek, and withdrew him from his parents, did not set down in writing how old he was, when he went into the east, nor what was his age when he died; but Melchizedek was the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Salah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah; and yet none of those patriarchs is called his father. This only the Apostle Paul means, that none of his family served in the temple, nor were children and tribes assigned to him. Matthew and Luke the evangelists only relate the heads of tribes: hence the Apostle Paul does not write the name of his father, nor the name of his mother.''


having neither beginning of days, nor end of life;
that is, there is no account which shows when he (Melchizedek) was born, or when he died.

The above statements (if correct) seems to rule out that Jesus the Anointed One was the priest Melchizedek before He came into being... Paul continues to write in Hebrews 7:4:
Now, do you see how great this man was, to whom [our] family head Abraham gave a tenth of the best things from his prizes?

Here Paul address Melchizedek as a man. The Greek word Paul uses is "houtos" which can mean he or she (human being) Strong's # G3778. Paul also states that Jesus was appointed a High Priest by God according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:10) The word order in Greek is "taxin" which means: fixed succession (of rank or character) Strong's # G5010. Paul seems to be implying (in Hebrews 5-7) that our focus should be on Jesus, who was to become the High Priest of God.


So, who was this priest of the Most High God?

There is strong evidence that he was Shem (Noah's son) but more likely he was a descendant of Shem (his grandson/fifth generation). Shem lived 500 years after the flood and probably found favor with God. (Genesis 11:11) As Shem's life is coming to an end God chooses Melchizedek (a descendant of Shem) to be His priest and Shem instructs him in the ways of God. There was no priest chosen before Melchizedek and only Jesus the Anointed One followed in that order. Jesus is now the High Priest of the Most High God and He will hold that office forever!


Another point to consider:
To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all...
Or tithes, as in (Genesis 14:20). Philo the Jew renders the Hebrew phrase, (lkm rvem) , just as the apostle does (dekathn apo pantwn) , "a tenth part of all", or "out of all"; not of all that he brought back, as Lot's goods, or the king of Sodom's, or any others; only of the spoils of the enemy, as in (Hebrews 7:4) which is no proof of any obligation on men to pay tithes now to any order of men; for this was a voluntary act, and not what any law obliged to; it was done but once, and not constantly, or every year; it was out of the spoils of the enemy, and not out of his own substance, or of the increase of the earth; nor was it for the maintenance of Melchizedek, as a priest, who also was a king, and was richly provided for; but to testify his gratitude to God, for the victory obtained, and his reverence of, and subjection to the priest of God. (contributed) 




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