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fireside's avatar

Does anyone have additional insight into Melchizedek who was referenced in the Bible?

Asked by fireside (12275 points ) April 6th, 2009

I was talking to someone tonight who seemed very convinced that there was an eternal being named Melchizedek who can be accessed or who appears to provide insights. I know that we have some heavy thinkers and biblical scholars here, so I was interested in knowing if anyone had more info on this subject. I am really just looking for more context to provide the next time I talk with this person. His contention was that this Melchizedek was one of the Jinn referenced in the Koran. Here is what I have found:

-He was referred to as the King of Salem

-Abraham (then Abram) paid him a tenth as tithe.

-There is a reference to him as being “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”

-Jesus was said to be “A priest forever according to the line of Melchizedek”

Any insights would be welcome.
Bonus points for being helpful towards my future discussions on this subject.

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26 Answers

discover's avatar

Melchizedek was priest and king. In the same way, even Jesus Christ is considered to be the king and priest (who understands us and was crucified for our sins)

phoenyx's avatar

Here are the references to him in the bible:
Gen. 14: 18 / Ps. 110: 4 / Heb. 5: 6, 10 / Heb. 6: 20 / Heb. 7: 1, 10–11, 15, 17, 21

Some random thoughts:

Does Abraham’s paying of tithes to Melchizedek imply that Melchizedek outranks Abraham in some way (which would be remarkable considering Abraham’s status in the Old Testament).

There seems to be a priesthood lineage for Melchizedek. Maybe something like the Levitical priesthood line? It seems to outrank the Levitical priesthood in some way (see Heb. 7:11). It doesn’t seemed to be mentioned in the Old Testament, but it pops up in the New Testament.

Salem was the former name of Jerusalem.

A reference to the Jinn in the Koran

I admit that I don’t know a lot about Islam, but Jinn seem to be supernatural beings. The Melchizedek of the bible doesn’t seem supernatural (e.g. an angel), but an actual person.

fireside's avatar

I agree with both of you in that the way I read the text, Melchizedek was a king and was paid a tithe by Abraham, much as Jesus said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…”

I am trying to understand the logical leap from man to immortal and all I can go by the that one line that sates he is without lineage. I also read that the reference to Melchizedek may have been inserted later as a way to establish a line of priests that were not of the Levis, since Christ was not a Levite.

As I understand Islam, there are three types of beings: Angels (made of light), Jinn (made of elemental fire or smoke) and Man (man of clay).

noelasun's avatar

as I had previously been understanding / remembering having read him as one you became a priest who was not of lineage suitable for priesthood.
intriguing. I’ll have to brush up on it.

phoenyx's avatar

Maybe it is to point out the differences between the two priestly orders: you are born into the Levitical, but you are ordained into the Melchizedekal?

(I don’t think “Melchizedekal” is a real word)

Judi's avatar

A concordance search:
Genesis 14:18 NIV
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,

Psalms 110:4 NIV
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 5:6 NIV
And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 5:10 NIV
and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:20 NIV
where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:1 NIV
[Melchizedek the Priest] This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,

Hebrews 7:10 NIV
because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Hebrews 7:11 NIV
[Jesus Like Melchizedek] If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

Hebrews 7:15 NIV
And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,

Hebrews 7:17 NIV
For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Don’t know if it helps you, But It is all the Bible says about him.

Dr_C's avatar

Known as a priest forever… to this day all priests in the Catholic Church are ordained (beside their order of origin) in the line of Melchizedek.

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t have any input here, but I wanted to mention that this was all very informative and enlightening! Such well-rounded and cultural jellies you are!

TheKNYHT's avatar

Melchizedek is a name from two root words “Melchi” which is ‘King’ and “zedek” which is ‘Righteousness’ thus, “King of Righteousness”

Melchizedek is a type of Christ, who is Himself our High priest, as well as the King of Righteousness, and the Prince of Peace (Hebrew word for Prince can be interepreted as ‘King, Prince, Captain, sometimes Judge’

I concur with the statements of the others made here, that Mechizedek has an eternal priesthood in the type that he represents, that is, Christ, whose office as Highpriest/Sacrifice is eternal, as is His office as Prophet, and King (thus the three gifts from the Magi: gold for His Kingship, Frankencense for His Priestly office, and Myrrh as His office of Propitiational Sacrifice).

The writer of Hebrews points out that Messiah is superior to the Old Testament sacrifices and priesthood via the Levites in that Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek, and in line with rabbinical thought, Levi being in the loins of Abraham was considered “present” and thus we have the Levitical priesthood in obesience to the Melchizedekian priesthood, showing in this manner the superiority of Christ’s (Messiah’) office as High Priest.

Touche on those verses Judi!

Melchizedek doesn’t necessarily have to be a Theophany (Old Testament appearance of Christ, sometimes called a Christophany), but for the sake of the type, his ancestry was omitted, or simply not known (thus w/o father or mother) to show that Christ in His eternal state had no ancestral lineage, but was one with the Father from everlasting.

There is nothing in the texts of scripture (listed by Judi) that suggests that Melchizedek was a Jinn, angel, or any other supernatural creature. In fact in order to meet the requirements of the type, he would have to be a man, as the only proper “Goel” for an Atoning substitute for sinful man would have to be a sinless man, i.e., Christ.

Ria777's avatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melchizedek

easy-peasy.

I don’t, by the way, trust Wikipedia completely and I know it doesn’t have info on anything. for most things, especially something easy to look up like this (easy because of the unusual name), I do some Googles and look through Wikipedia first.

sounds like the friend may have referenced something of the Order of Melchizedek. just a guess, though.

Ria777's avatar

…......

Harp's avatar

This takes a scholarly look at many of the hypotheses. It’s extremely involved, but here are some high points:

He appears to have been a king-priest of Zadek, which seems to be one of the ancient names of Jerusalem as well as one of the many names of the supreme Canaanite deity (Zadek was a name for Jupiter, king of heaven). This is etymologically related to “El Shaddai”, a title Abraham used to refer to his God.

The references to his being “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” can be understood as meaning that his priesthood didn’t come to him via succession, i.e. he was anointed directly by God rather than being born into the office as were the levitical priests. Alternatively, there is plenty of historical precedent for using this terminology to mean “of unrecorded or uncertain genealogy”. The reference to his eternal nature seems to apply to his office of priesthood rather than to himself. It was a priesthood that had no expiration date, in other words, and outlived the man himself.

Many, many possible identities have been proposed for Melchizadek, including:
A previous manifestation of Jesus
An incarnation of the Holy Spirit
An angel
Noah’s sister-in-law’s son
the son of Canaan
Shem, a son of Noah

There’s a lot more in this paper than I’ve covered here, and it gives much more historical context than the wikipedia article.

Ria777's avatar

again, just to clarify, I only think that Wikipedia articles make for good starting points.

fireside's avatar

Namaste, Harp.

The paper you linked to seems to answer a lot of the items that had been confusion points last night. I see the next potential issue as relating to a book I found on amazon about the more esoteric interpretation of Melchizedek and how to be an integrated Christ/Buddha.

I will begin with the rational explanations about the man offered by the paper you found and see where that goes before worrying about the next step.

Everyone give Harp bonus points for finding a 39 page paper analyzing the topic!!!

TheKNYHT's avatar

@TheKNYHT Oh! You dummy! You forgot to talk about how Melchizedek was King of Salem? This is a root word for Shalom, and is also used of “Jerusalem” meaning The City of Peace (ironic, isn’t it, what with all the turmoil there?). Salem means peace, and that’s another way Melchizedek is a type of Christ, for Christ is also a King (or Prince) of Peace.
Psa 122:6 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
This isn’t merely a prayer that Jerusalem receive peace, as I once thought, its actually a prayer for the Messiah to appear, for its only when this Prince of Peace comes, that this city will ever truly, totally know 100% peace, and not until then.

fireside's avatar

@TheKNYHT – lol, you responded to yourself : )
Thanks for your input also (and thanks to everyone else too!), this should help me to better understand where my friend is coming from as we talk next time.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Some rabbinic teachings say that God intended to bring forth the priesthood through Melchizedek’s descendants, but because Melchizedek blessed Abraham before he blessed God, God brought the priesthood forth from Abraham’s descendants.

mellamashermosa's avatar

Melchizedek was a TYPE of Christ. You find “types” all through the Bible. To get better information on it, visit this web site:
http://www.presentruth.com/2009/06/gods-faithful-flock-10-willard-santee/

WIllard Santee is not most colorful preacher, but he bases it all off the Bible and he speaks about Melchizedek from a theological/ biblical stance!
Send me a line if this is good for you…but listen to it all! he is not a colorful speaker, but he makes it very clear! God Bless :)

kess's avatar

The simple truthful answer is that melchizedek is Shem.

There was always a priest unto God from among men.
The lineage begun with Adam and it was always relegated to the first born son.

So Noah pass this priest unto Shem, and at the time of Abraham was still serving.

This is why when Esau rejected his birthright is was such a big deal, He actually rejected the priesthood upon the death of the priest at the time Heber from which come Hebrews.
And why Ham disrespect of Noah was such a gross act, for He seek to humiliate the high priest unto God.

The name melchizedek was a representation of the oneness of the King and priesthood.

Also this title was conferred when Shem became “born again” and possessed eternal life by his faith.

This priesthood has been conferred unto Christ finally and inherited it based on the He was the first born Of Joseph.

The quotes is the book of Hebrews about having no parents and continuing forever were referring to His status as one who inherited eternal Life for He was reborn of the Spirit.

phoenyx's avatar

@kess How do you know Melchizedek is Shem?
(just curious how you came to that conclusion)

Yetanotheruser's avatar

The way I understand it (which will reiterate some of what’s been said):

Melchizedek appeared in Genesis to the patriarch Abram. He is called “king of Salem” (believed to be ancient Jerusalem) and “priest of the most high God” in Genesis 14:18.
He is said to have brought bread and wine to Abram after Abram’s victory over the four kings who had besieged Sodom and Gomorrah and had taken his nephew Lot prisoner (described in Genesis 14). The bread and wine are said by some Christian scholars to prefigure the bread and wine used at the Last Supper of Jesus and the Apostles. Melchizedek blessed Abraham in the name of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. In return, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth, a tithe, of the spoils gained from the battle.

In some translations, Psalm 110:4 names Melchizedek as representative of the priestly line through which a future king of Israel’s Davidic line was ordained. Alternatively, the term in Psalm 110:4 can be read ‘rightful king.’ (E.g., New JPS Tanakh.)

In Rabbinic interpretations (references available):
In the Midrash, the Rabbis identified Melchizedek with Shem son of Noah. Rabbi Isaac the Babylonian said that Melchizedek was born circumcised.(!)

Melchizedek called Jerusalem ‘Salem.’
Interestingnote about Salem/Jerusalem; “salem” comes from the Hebrew word for “Peace”

The Rabbis said that Melchizedek instructed Abraham in the Torah.
Rabbi Eleazar said that Melchizedek’s school was one of three places where the Holy Spirit manifested itself.
The Rabbis taught that Melchizedek acted as a priest and handed down Adam’s robes to Abraham.
Rabbi Zechariah said on Rabbi Ishmael’s authority that God intended to bring forth the priesthood through Melchizedek’s descendants, but because Melchizedek blessed Abraham before he blessed God (in Gen. 14:19–20), God brought the priesthood forth from Abraham’s descendants.
Rabbi Judah said in Rabbi Nehorai’s name that Melchizedek’s blessing yielded prosperity for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ephraim Miksha’ah the disciple of Rabbi Meir said in the latter’s name that Tamar (daughter-in-law to Judah) descended from Melchizedek. Rabbi Hana bar Bizna citing Rabbi Simeon Hasida identified Melchizedek as one of the four craftsmen of whom Zechariah wrote in Zechariah 2:3.

The Talmud teaches that David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, including Melchizedek.

The Zohar finds in ‘Melchizedek king of Salem’ a reference to ‘the King Who rules with complete sovereignty,’ or according to another explanation, that ‘Melchizedek’ alludes to the lower world and ‘king of Salem’ to the upper world.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@fireside Regarding your first sentence about “an eternal being named Melchizedek who can be accessed or who appears to provide insights.”:

There are some “New Age” sources that claim to channel Melchizedek, or at least receive inspiration from “him”.

fireside's avatar

@Yetanotheruser – yes, I am convinced that the person I was talking with at the time had the belief that he could channel Melchizedek and reveal new spiritual truths. He was somewhat egged on by his own interpretation of the Baha’i understanding of Progressive Revelation.

Thanks for the great synopsis up there.

JamesthebrotherofJohn's avatar

The Melchizedek in Genesis is NOW our Planetary Prince. He prepared the way for Joshua ben Joseph (Jesus). He will be the lead for ushering in The New Era. He falls into The Order of Melchizedeks. He is currently in consult with the three Most Holies on our Constallation Capitol of Edentia. He came to our planet as an adult and served 96 years, then left as he came (silently). His mission was to bring Light to a Dark world in Rebellion. He trained many missionaries and sent them out to the four corners of our known world to spiritually up-step this planet in preparation for the arrival of Christ’s final bestowal as a babe in the flesh. We are currently in a Transition Era and soon Machiventa Melchizedek will be arriving (in person) with Jesus’ brother from Paradise to bring order to this world (The Next Coming). Machiventa is a Master Teacher (Priest). He is the Head Administrator of Earth. There are many, many Melchizedeks in Heaven (100’s of millions across the universe. Upon death and arrival on the shores of heaven, we will all come to know, understand, appreciate, and LOVE ALL Melchizedeks. In the entire eons of time, not one Melchizedek has ever gone astray. They all work for the benefit of Christ and the mortals of time and space. Machiventa is my personal teacher and hero. He is available for discussion at any time; speak to him and ask him questions; “Ask and You Shall Receive!” Soon, all of us and all our future generations will know him personally! I know from where I speak. James

Butterflies61's avatar

Probably much of what I found has already been said, but the following is what I have found in my research of the subject. It is taken from the Insight to the Scriptures published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Hope it is of use.
MELCHIZEDEK
(Mel‧chiz′e‧dek) [King of Righteousness].
King of ancient Salem and “priest of the Most High God,” Jehovah. (Ge 14:18, 22) He is the first priest mentioned in the Scriptures; he occupied that position sometime prior to 1933 B.C.E. Being the king of Salem, which means “Peace,” Melchizedek is identified by the apostle Paul as “King of Peace” and, on the basis of his name, as “King of Righteousness.” (Heb 7:1, 2) Ancient Salem is understood to have been the nucleus of the later city of Jerusalem, and its name was incorporated in that of Jerusalem, which is sometimes referred to as “Salem.”—Ps 76:2.
After Abram (Abraham) defeated Chedorlaomer and his confederate kings, the patriarch came to the Low Plain of Shaveh or “the king’s Low Plain.” There Melchizedek “brought out bread and wine” and blessed Abraham, saying: “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!” At that Abraham gave the king-priest “a tenth of everything,” that is, of “the chief spoils” he had acquired in his successful warfare against the allied kings.—Ge 14:17–20; Heb 7:4.
Christ’s Priesthood Typified. In a notable Messianic prophecy the sworn oath of Jehovah to David’s “Lord” is: “You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!” (Ps 110:1, 4) This inspired psalm gave the Hebrews reason to regard the promised Messiah as the one in whom the office of priest and king would be combined. The apostle Paul, in the letter to the Hebrews, removed any doubt about the identity of the one foretold, speaking of “Jesus, who has become a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek forever.”—Heb 6:20; 5:10; see COVENANT.
Direct appointment. Jehovah evidently appointed Melchizedek to be a priest. In discussing Jesus’ status as the great High Priest, Paul showed that a man does not take the honor “of his own accord, but only when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was.” He also explained that “the Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but was glorified by him who spoke with reference to him: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father,’” and the apostle next applies the prophetic words of Psalm 110:4 to Jesus Christ.—Heb 5:1, 4–6.
‘Received tithes from Levi.’ Melchizedek’s priestly status was not linked with the priesthood of Israel, and as the Scriptures point out, it was higher than the Aaronic priesthood. One factor indicating this is the deference accorded to Melchizedek by Abraham, the forefather of the entire nation of Israel, including the priestly tribe of Levi. Abraham, “Jehovah’s friend,” who became “the father of all those having faith” (Jas 2:23; Ro 4:11), gave a tenth, or a “tithe,” to this priest of the Most High God. Paul shows that the Levites collected tithes from their brothers, who also issued from the loins of Abraham. However, he points out that Melchizedek “who did not trace his genealogy from them took tithes from Abraham,” and “through Abraham even Levi who receives tithes has paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his forefather when Melchizedek met him.” Thus, though the Levitical priests received tithes from the people of Israel, they, as represented in their ancestor Abraham, paid tithes to Melchizedek. Furthermore, the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood is shown in that he blessed Abraham, Paul pointing out that “the less is blessed by the greater.” Such factors are among those making Melchizedek a suitable type of the great High Priest Jesus Christ.—Heb 7:4–10.
No predecessors or successors. Paul clearly indicates that perfection was unattainable through the Levitical priesthood, thus necessitating the appearance of a priest “according to the manner of Melchizedek.” He points out that Christ sprang from Judah, a nonpriestly tribe, but, citing Jesus’ similarity to Melchizedek, shows that he became a priest, “not according to the law of a commandment depending upon the flesh, but according to the power of an indestructible life.” Aaron and his sons became priests without an oath, but the priesthood conferred on Christ was ordained by an oath of Jehovah. Also, whereas the Levitical priests kept dying and needed to have successors, the resurrected Jesus Christ “because of continuing alive forever has his priesthood without any successors” and, therefore, is able “to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”—Heb 7:11–25.
How was it true that Melchizedek had ‘neither beginning of days nor end of life’?
Paul isolated an outstanding fact respecting Melchizedek, in saying of him: “In being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor an end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Heb 7:3) Like other humans, Melchizedek was born and he died. However, the names of his father and mother are not furnished, his ancestry and posterity are not disclosed, and the Scriptures contain no information about the beginning of his days or the end of his life. Thus, Melchizedek could fittingly foreshadow Jesus Christ, who has an unending priesthood. As Melchizedek had no recorded predecessor or successor in his priesthood, so too Christ was preceded by no high priest similar to himself, and the Bible shows that none will ever succeed him. Furthermore, although Jesus was born in the tribe of Judah and in the kingly line of David, his fleshly ancestry had no bearing on his priesthood, nor was it by virtue of human ancestry that the offices of both priest and king were combined in him. These things were as a result of Jehovah’s own oath to him.
A view that appears in the Targums of Jerusalem and of Jonathan and that has gained wide acceptance among the Jews and others is that Melchizedek was Noah’s son Shem. Shem was then alive and even outlived Abraham’s wife Sarah. Also, Noah specifically blessed Shem. (Ge 9:26, 27) But this identification has not been confirmed. The fact remains that Melchizedek’s nationality, genealogy, and offspring are left undisclosed in the Scriptures, and that with good reason, for he could thus typify Jesus Christ, who by Jehovah’s sworn oath “has become a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek forever.”—Heb 6:20.

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