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Melchidizedek???. Priest & King. How and why does the author of Hebrews use Melchizedek to support his/her Christology ?. Melchidizek is mentioned 8 times in Hebrews: 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:1,10,11, 15, 17 Once in Genesis (14:18) Once in Ps 110:4. Hebrews 5:.

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Priest & King

how and why does the author of hebrews use melchizedek to support his her christology
How and why does the author of Hebrews use Melchizedek to support his/her Christology?
  • Melchidizek is mentioned 8 times in Hebrews: 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:1,10,11, 15, 17
  • Once in Genesis (14:18)
  • Once in Ps 110:4
hebrews 5
Hebrews 5:
  • 4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.
  • 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU";
  • 6 just as He says also in another passage, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
hebrews 51
Hebrews 5 
  • 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
  • 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
hebrews 6
Hebrews 6

20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

hebrews 7
Hebrews 7:

1  For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

3 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.

4  Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.

5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.

6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.
  • 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.
  • 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.
9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,
  • 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
  • 11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.
  • 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.
  • 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
15  And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,
  • 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.
genesis 14 17 20
Genesis: 14: 17-20
  • 17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.
  • 19 He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." He gave him a tenth of all.
ps 110 4
Ps 110:4
  • Psalm 110:4 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
where to begin
Where to begin?
  • Who was the author of Hebrews?
  • Date?
  • Who was author of Gen 18:14
  • When?
  • Who was the author of Ps 110
  • When
  • How does the author of Hebrews come to his descriptions about Melchizidek
  • Why?
check the translations genesis
BGT Genesis 14:18 kai. Melcisedek basileu.j Salhm evxh,negken a;rtouj kai. oi=non h=n de. i`ereu.j tou/ qeou/ tou/ u`yi,stou

LXE Genesis 14:18 And Melchisedec king of Salem brought forth loaves and wine, and he was the priest of the most high God.

NET Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.)

Check the translations – Genesis
net bible notes genesis 14 18
Net Bible Notes – Genesis 14:18
  • 46 sn Salem is traditionally identified as the Jebusite stronghold of old Jerusalem. Accordingly, there has been much speculation about its king. Though some have identified him with the preincarnate Christ or with Noah's son Shem, it is far more likely that Melchizedek was a Canaanite royal priest whom God used to renew the promise of the blessing to Abram, perhaps because Abram considered Melchizedek his spiritual superior.
But Melchizedek remains an enigma. In a book filled with genealogical records he appears on the scene without a genealogy and then disappears from the narrative. In Psalm 110 the LORD declares that the Davidic king is a royal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.
47 tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause significantly identifies Melchizedek as a priest as well as a king.
  • sn It is his royal priestly status that makes Melchizedek a type of Christ: He was identified with Jerusalem, superior to the ancestor of Israel, and both a king and a priest. Unlike the normal Canaanites, this man served "God Most High" (!Ayl.[, lae, 'el 'elyon) – one sovereign God, who was the creator of all the universe. Abram had in him a spiritual brother.
ps 110 41
`qd<c<)-yKil.m; ytiªr"b.DI÷-l[; ~l'_A[l. !heîko-hT'(a; ~xeªN"yI al{ïw> Ÿhw"’hy> [B;Ûv.nI WTT Psalm 110:4

BGT Psalm 109:4 w;mosen ku,rioj kai. ouv metamelhqh,setai su. ei= i`ereu.j eivj to.n aivw/na kata. th.n ta,xin Melcisedek

NET Psalm 110:4 The LORD makes this promise on oath and will not revoke it: "You are an eternal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek."

NRS Psalm 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.“

LXE Psalm 110:4 The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.

Ps 110:4
net bible notes on ps 110 4
Net Bible Notes on PS 110:4
  • 16 sn You are an eternal priest. The Davidic king exercised a non-Levitical priestly role. The king superintended Judah's cultic ritual, had authority over the Levites, and sometimes led in formal worship. David himself instructed the Levites to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (1 Chr 15:11–15), joined the procession, offered sacrifices, wore a priestly ephod, and blessed the people (2 Sam 6:12–19). At the dedication of the temple Solomon led the ceremony, offering sacrifices and praying on behalf of the people (1 Kgs 8).
18 sn The Davidic king's priestly role is analogous to that of Melchizedek, who was both "king of Salem" (i.e., Jerusalem) and a "priest of God Most High" in the time of Abraham (Gen 14:18–20). Like Melchizedek, the Davidic king was a royal priest, distinct from the Aaronic line (see Heb 7). The analogy focuses on the king's priestly role; the language need not imply that Melchizedek himself was "an eternal priest."
early conjectures about the why
Early conjectures about the “why”
  • Non Levitical
  • Priest
  • King
    • Jesus is from line of Judah/David
    • Appointed to priestly role – didn’t inherit it
As many scholars have noted, the poet’s attempt to present the king as both monarch and priest suggests that this particular psalm was composed not for a Davidic king, but for one of the Hasmoneans, non-Davidic Maccabean rulers who reigned in Judah from about 142-63 BCE. Although they were not descended from the Aaronic line of priests, the Hasmoneans appropriated the office of High Priest as well as that of king. They may have tried to legitimize their holding both offices by claiming descent from the king-priest Melchizedek. (psalms that eventually became part of the canon then were still being composed in the late second or early 1st C BCE (Harris, Understanding the BIble)
who were the authors
Who were the authors?
  • Hebrews (more a sermon than epistle) – Paul – Barnabas, Apollos, Clement, Luke
  • Genesis 14:18 – “J”
  • Ps 110- (2 brief oracles, v 1 & 4) David 9 C BCE or someone in the Maccabean period 2 BCE
  • Hebrews - 62 or 63 CE
  • Genesis 14:18 – Proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis view the Melchizedek narrative as a fragment from a once independent tradition concerning Jerusalem that the Yahwist inserted awkwardly into the surrounding narrative concerning the battle.
  • J was composed c 850 BC and later incorporated into the Torah (c 400 BC).[
  • Ps 110:4 – Final form of Psalter around 3BCE, David’s reign , late 10th C BCE
which came first the psalm or genesis
Which came first? The Psalm or Genesis?
  • Was the passage inserted in Genesis based on Ps 110, or Ps 110 on Genesis or are they independent of each other?
background info
Background info:
  • Melchizedek’s name = Zedek is my king or My king is righteous. (There’s a Canaanite deity with that name, too)
  • King of Salem (aka Jerusalem) – peace
  • Priest of El Elyon - most high God, interpreted as Yahweh
    • Some scholars think it refers to Zedek
where else to look



Extra canonical




2 Enoch

Genesis Apocrypha




Nag Hammadi


Pistis Sophia

Where else to look?
Qumran -
  • Genesis Apocryphon: amounts to a translation of Genesis 14:18-20 with additions (latter part of 1st C –latter part of 1st C CE) Melchizedek brings out food and drink and all the men who were with him; confirms Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek and not the other way around
qumran 11q
Qumran – 11Q
  • Eschatological figure
  • Badly preserved fragmented text, lacunae – difficult to translate
  • Date around middle of 1st C CE
  • Superior being of some sort who will appear at the end of days to bring atonement for the sons of light and who is the direct opponent of Belial.
  • Melchizedek as Elohim expresses the judgments of El in the heavenly assembly and is also the one who will exact the penalties, aided by the angels
  • The anointed one is a prophet who announces the reign of Melchizedek
  • Mentions Melchizedek in (Legum Allegoriae 3.79-82; De Congressu 89; De Abrahamo 235).
  • Philo interprets the text of Genesis in a Platonic-allegorical fashion,
  • Sees in Melchizedek a reference to the divine Logos, the thought of God in which the pattern of all existing things is conceived and the "image" of God according to which man was created.
2 enoch
  • 2 Enoch, attests to early Jewish interest in the figure of Melchizedek. The date and place of this document are controversial, but recent scholarship places its original Greek version in the first century A.D. in Alexandria
In this text (chaps. 71-72), a child is born miraculously to Noah's recently deceased sister-in-law, and the child, marked on his chest with a priestly seal, speaks and praises God. The boy is named Melchizedek by Noah and his brother Nir, whose wife had been posthumously delivered. In a night vision Nir is told of the impending flood; he is also informed that the archangel Michael will bring Melchizedek to paradise, thus enabling him to escape the flood waters. Melchizedek will eventually become the chief of priests among the people, and in the end of days he will be revealed yet another time as the chief priest. In this text, Melchizedek has three different earthly manifestations: born before the Flood, serving in the postdiluvian age as a great priest, and functioning in the end-time as a messianic priest (cf. Gruenewald, pp. 90-92; Delcor, pp. 127-30).
nag hammadi
Nag Hammadi
  • A fragmentary text from Nag Hammadi (IX.1: Melchizedek; cf. Pearson, 1981, pp. 19-85) contains an apocalypse given by angels to Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High." It is revealed to Melchizedek that he will ultimately reappear as Jesus Christ, Son of God, to do battle with the cosmic forces of darkness. Here one can see influence not only from the Epistle to the Hebrews but also from non-Christian lore.
pistis sophia book 4
Pistis Sophia, Book 4
  • The most developed levels of speculation on Melchizedek, also lacking any influence from Hebrews, are found in Pistis Sophia, Book 4, in which Melchizedek plays a key role in the process of purifying human souls for entry into the "Treasury of Light" and transferring them from the domain of the archons, or earthly rulers, to that heavenly region. The younger material in books 1-3 of Pistis Sophia develops these ideas further: Melchizedek is a heavenly being who seals the saved souls upon their entry into the realm of light.
  • Jubilees 1322-27 tells Genesis story – missing verses/blank space – Is it the narrative on Melchizidek that would be in the missing verses???
josephus others
Josephus & others

MELCHIZEDEK AS A QUASI-HISTORICAL FIGURE. He is mentioned fairly frequently in Second Temple literature, but often in what could be called "historical" rather than mediatorial contexts. Josephus (Ant. 1.10.2) and the Genesis Apocryphon (col. 22) paraphrase the passage in Genesis and explictly identify Salem with Jerusalem.

Pseudo-Eupolemos (Praep. Evan. 9.17.6) refers to him briefly as the ruler of a city (which one is not clear) and a priest of God who gave gifts to Abraham. He is also mentioned in the Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (from books 7-8 of the Apostolic Constitutions), prayers that are Christian in their current form, but that seem to draw on Jewish Greek material from the early centuries C.E. But he doesn't function as a divine mediator in any of these texts.
church fathers
Church fathers
  • The church fathers attest to several heterodox ideas associated with Melchizedek.
  • Hippolytus of Rome (Refutatio 7.35-36) and Epiphanius of Salamis (Panarion 55) are the most important witnesses to a group of heretics called Melchizedekians. They had a low Christology and exalted Melchizedek as a heavenly power superior to Christ. Others equated Melchizedek with the Holy Spirit (Panarion 67),
and some "even in the true church" (i.e., not "heretics") naively regarded Melchizedek as the Son of God (Panarion 55.7.3). The later view seems also to have been present among the monasteries of Egypt (Apophthegmata Patrum, in Patrologia Graeca 65.160) and was even defended in a treatise on Melchizedek by a fifth-century resident of the Judean desert, Mark the Hermit (PG 65.1117-40). Such views were eventually overcome by teacher-bishops such as Cyril of Alexandria (PG 65.160).
  • On the Jewish side, while early rabbis continued to speculate on Melchizedek's role in scripture (e.g., equating him with Shem, son of Noah; cf. b. Nedarim 32b; Midrash Gen. R. 44.7; Targum Ps.-J. Gen. 14:18), a major stream of rabbinic tradition viewed Melchizedek negatively, a fact that indicates some Jewish sensitivity to the use of Melchizedek traditions by Christians (Gianotto, pp. 172-85).
so some possibilities
So…Some possibilities

Is Melchizedek – historical figure – priest king of Salem who turned his role over to Abraham? -

1st Priest of God

Son of Shem, the son of Noah?

The chief heavenly eternal priest?

Is Melchizedek a warrier angel?
  • Is Melchizedek Jesus/Logos
    • Or…is Jesus really Melchizidek?
  • Or the Holy Spirit?
next steps
Next steps?
  • Try to get to primary vs. secondary sources
  • The Melchizedek Tradition by Frank Horton – seems authoritative/reliable/thorough…
  • Any suggestions?
  • Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., & Edward Cook. NY:HarperSanFrancisco,1996 p.83
  • Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mountain View, CA:Mayfield Publishing, 2000
  • Horton, Fred L. Jr. The Melchizedek Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.
  • Juel, Donald. Messianic Exegesis. Philadelphia:Fortress, 1988.
  • Kaiser, Walter C. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 1984
  • Kugel, James L.The Bible as It Was. Cambridge, Mass:Belknap Press, 1997.
  • New English translation New Testament 27th Ed. Dallas:Net Bible Press, 2004.
  • The Scriptures. Northriding, South Africa:Institute for Scripture Research, 2002
  • http://