King Of Salem
Melchizedek, meaning king of righteousness, was the "king of Salem," later known as Jerusalem, and "priest of God Most High" - at a time prior to the establishment of the Levitical priesthood (see Levites). Melchizedek is one of the most enigmatic people of Bible History, not only because of his distinctive position as king and high priest of Jerusalem (a dual office that will ultimately be fulfilled only by Jesus Christ), but also because of other profound statements about him, such as in Hebrews that "he is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life." A Jewish speculative tradition holds that Melchizedek was actually Noah's son Shem who may have survived to that time, but Shem obviously did have a recorded father, Noah, and a beginning of days since Shem's age is mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, or "Old" Testament (a factor that the non-Christian Jewish point of view, which does not include the New Testament, does not take into consideration). So who was Melchizedek? Or more precisely, in terms of Who he foreshadowed, what (a function doesn't have parents, a birth or a death, but all people do) was Melchizedek?
"Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God"
Melchizedek entered the Scriptural record after Abram, who God later renamed Abraham, rescued his nephew Lot (the incident makes plain that Abraham, along with everything else, was also a very skilled tactician and battlefield commander):
"And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people."
"And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is The King's Dale."
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all." (Genesis 14:14-20 KJV)
Melchizedek is mentioned only once more in the Old Testament when King David refers to him, and the future earthly rule of the Messiah, in the Psalms (see also The Messianic Psalms):
"A Psalm of David."
"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion [see The Zion Of The Lord]: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:1-4 KJV)
It is in the New Testament that Melchizedek's significance is made clear:
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham [see also On His Own Two Feet] returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually."
"Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi [see Levites], who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him."
"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received the law, what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
"For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect [see What Law Was "Nailed To The Cross"?], but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God."
"And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:"
"By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament [see Covenant and Testament]. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore." (Hebrews 7:1-28 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is Jesus Christ the fulfillment of Melchizedek?
See also High Priest to King of The World