For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Comment: What do we know about Melchizedek, a man with a mysterious history?
- His name means ‘righteousness’. He was king of Salem (?Jerusalem). Salem means peace and ‘Selam’, a greeting wishing you total well being, is often used in Africa and the Middle East, although they may often have forgotten what the greeting actually means! He is titled ‘Priest of the Most High God’.
- He has no genealogy, neither his father nor his mother are named, no body knows his birth date or the time of his death. There are remarkable resemblances to Jesus here. We do know who was Jesus’ mother but he had no earthly father and He came down from an eternal seat in the heavens and returned there after his resurrection.
- The author refers to an incident in Genesis ch 14 where Abraham, the father of Israel, the one to whom God gave a specific promise of the Messiah to come, met Melchizedek.
- ‘The slaughter of the kings’ (tribal leaders) refers to when Abraham rescued his nephew Lot, when he and his surrounding people had been captured with all their families and goods.
- With an argument which we might question these days (on genetical grounds) the author states that the Levitical priests gave a tenth to Melchizedek. They were in a true sense ‘in his loins’ as Abraham was their forebear. At any rate he argues that the Levites (the priestly tribe) through Abraham gave tithes to this High Priest Melchizedek, whom he has likened to Jesus. And Abraham, great as he was, was blessed by someone superior to him.
Prayer: Thank you that our High Priest is unchanging in nature and will never die.