“Melchizedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El ‘Elyon[God Most High],…”-Genesis 14:18
After rescuing Lot, Abram is greeted by a mysterious character known as Melchizedek, King of Shalem.
We are given the information that he is a high priest and that he worships El’Elyon-the God most high.
A ceremony of sorts take place.
This mysterious figure gives Abram bread and wine and blesses Abram.
Abram in return gives him one-tenth of all booty he acquired.
Now who in the world is this character?
Let’s break it down linguistically as follows:
First, “Melchizedek” is not a personal name like Joseph or Peter.
It is a title like president or general.
The correct literal translation is “King of Righteousness“.
Although we aren’t given much information about this mysterious person, it is definitely in our best interests to learn about him.
First, Christians and Jews have a difference of opinion regarding the identity of Melchizedek.
The traditional Christian answer is that he was Yeshua.
However, I think that’s a bunch of bunk.
The Christian church in general has a bad habit of suggesting that whenever God appears in human form in the Old Testament, it must have been Yeshua.
In Genesis 3, where it says, “They heard the voice of Adonai, God, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze”, they will say it was actually Yeshua who was walking in the garden.
Or they will say the fourth human figure that appeared with Daniel and his companions when they were thrown into the furnace, was Yeshua.
Yeshua is the name of a specific person born at a prophesied specific time in history.
Think about it, the very teaching of the 2nd coming of Yeshua should put to rest any notion that he appeared multiple other times in the past.
Logically, in order for Yeshua to come a second time, he could only have come to earth once before.
I think it is incredibly bad theology to instantly label every divine human manifestation in Scripture as being some “pre-incarnate Christ”.
The Gentile mindset and traditional western Christianity has a tendency to want to fit eternal spiritual truths into an easily packaged black-and-white box.
God and his manifestations far exceed our ability to comprehend him and definitely far exceed Christianity’s limited trinity doctrine.
Now some ancient Jewish scribes have taught that Melchizedek was actually Shem, one of Noah’s three sons.
Based on the biblical record and chronologies, this is definitely a possibility.
Remember, Shem came from the blessed line coming from Noah and given that he was also one of those who survived the flood, his loyalty to the one true God of the universe would have been without question.
I believe this is entirely plausible for the following reasons:
1) Shem was still alive. The ancient historian Josephus also attests to this.
2) Shalem (now Jerusalem), was located in an area proliferating with idols. However, amidst all of this pagan idolatry, we have a king who had the utmost reverence for the most high God.
3) Abram seems to already know who Melchizedek is and without batting an eye gives him one-tenth of all the property he recovered.
The second time Melchizedek is mentioned in Scripture is in the Psalms. This is a prophetic and messianic psalm. Let’s take a look at it.
Adonai says to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies
Adonai will send your powerful scepter
out from Tziyon,
so that you will rule over
your enemies around you.
On the day your forces mobilize,
your people willingly offer themselves
in holy splendors from the womb of the dawn;
the dew of your youth is yours.
Adonai has sworn it,
and he will never retract —
“You are a cohen forever,
to be compared with Melchizedek.”
The prophetic implication being communicated in these verses is that the messiah will be both a king and a priest.
The phrase “to be compared with Melchizedek” is referring to a priestly order that will supersede the Levites priesthood, because this priest (Yeshua) will also be a mighty king.
So what is the conclusion concerning the identity Melchizedek?
He was most likely Shem, one of the three sons of Noah and he was a foreshadow of the Messiah to come.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“This Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem, a cohen of God Ha‘Elyon, met Avraham on his way back from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; also Avraham gave him a tenth of everything. Now first of all, by translation of his name, he is “king of righteousness”; and then he is also king of Shalem, which means “king of peace.” There is no record of his father, mother, ancestry, birth or death; rather, like the Son of God, he continues as a cohen for all time.-Hebrews 7:1-3