A short study on a pivotal figure
Who is Melchizedek?
Today we will be talking about Melchizedek. Who was he? And why do we care? He is a mysterious figure in the Bible, and although there are not a lot of scriptures devoted to him, he is actually a very important person, and we need to know why he’s in scripture…so let’s get started. Who was Melchizedek?
Scripture tells us that Melchizedek was known as the King of Salem, The King of Peace, and The King of Righteousness. We see him for the first time in a narrative including Abram and his nephew, Lot, which takes place in Genesis chapter 14. This is where The War of Nine Kings is recorded for us in the scriptures. It takes almost the entire fourteenth chapter to get a real understanding of the scenario, so we’re going in… here we go!
14 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.
8 And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. 14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And 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.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.
OK…now what we are to understand here is that King Chedorlaomer has oppressed these people, these tribes, in the plains of Jordan for 12 years, and they decide to rebel in the 13th year. Four Kings against five, with King Bera of Sodom and his four allied Kings and armies, are heading up to go to war against King Chedorlaomer and his three allied Kings and armies. Chedorlaomer defeats Bera and his armies, and takes everyone captive, including Abram’s nephew Lot. Abram finds out from an escapee and takes 318 highly trained men out to battle where he defeats Chedorlaomer, rescues Lot and his family as well as all the other captives, and collects all the plunder from the war.
So, Abram is here, taking stock of everything after the war is over and the King of Sodom (Bera) comes out to meet with Abram in the Valley of Shaveh- or the place known as ‘The King’s Valley’. What is interesting about the Valley of Shaveh is that it’s the same place as modern-day Jerusalem. Here’s where things begin to get really interesting.
The Hebrew word ‘Yerushalayim‘ is taken from two other Hebrew words, “Yireh” meaning ‘fear or awe’ and “Shalom” meaning ‘peace’. “Yireh” is spelled with ‘Yod‘ pictured as a hand doing a mighty work, and ‘Resh‘ pictured as a head or Prince. The second word, “Shalom” is spelled with the letters ‘Shin‘ which is two front teeth and means to consume or to destroy, the letter ‘Lamed‘ pictured as a staff and meaning Authority, and ‘Mem‘ meaning waters, and in this example waters of chaos and death. When added together, all these letters convey the message of a coming prince that will accomplish the might work of destroying the one who has the authority to cause chaos and death.
The name “Shaveh” means ‘plain’ or ‘to be level with’ and it is also called ‘The Valley of Kings’. This is important because it is here that we see Melchizedek also coming out to meet Abram, and we know that Melchizedek is referred to as The King of Righteousness or The King of Salem, or Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)- so Melchizedek carries the name of “The Prince who comes to destroy the voice of authority that causes chaos and death.” Amazing, right?!
Let’s break this down a little further because there is a lot packed into these few verses. This is the first appearance of Melchizedek we have in scripture, and it is also the first mention of a priest in the Bible. Additionally, this the first time that we have the use of the word ‘Hebrew‘, which means “to cross over, or to traverse”. Not only that, but Melchizedek is speaking on behalf of YHVH, as a priest, without making an offering first, which can only mean that he was without sin, as ALL other the priests in history had to make propitiation for sin- both for themselves and for the people prior to being able to come before The Most High. Melchizedek is speaking to mankind on behalf of Elohim and not the other way around. This is monumental because it shows us that YHVH is the first to initiate being in a relationship with mankind and that He is truly connected to the affairs of man.
Also, we see that Melchizedek, a Priest of The Most High Elohim, is bringing out bread and wine, which are the symbols of the Passover, and the new covenant through Yeshua, which is the only other time that bread and wine are mentioned in this way. We see Melchizedek praising YHVH, and then blessing Abram. Then Abram gives a tenth of everything he has to Melchizedek.
So why this Melchizedek? Normally you wouldn’t give a portion of your spoils from war to a friend, a random stranger, or even an Earthly King. So why did Abram give him a tenth of all his goods? And it’s important to note here that it wasn’t just a portion of his goods, but the first portion. The first ten percent. To really get a feel for why this is pertinent, we have to go all the way back to the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter four.
4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain and Abel both made an offering, but only Abel’s offering was accepted. That is because Abel gave of the firstborn and the fat of his flock- the first and best that he had, but Cain gave only a portion of his produce from the field. He maybe gave the right percentage, but it was the leftovers. He gave YHVH the portion that he didn’t want to keep for himself. Therefore, his offering was not acceptable to YHVH. Cain and Abel both understood the concept that the firstfruits offering was for YHVH, and YHVH alone. Abram also knew and understood this concept. He most likely grew up watching his parents and grandparents give their first fruit offerings and consecrating their firstborn to YHVH, so when he gave his “first fruits” to Melchizedek, he was acknowledging that this King of Salem or King of Righteousness was no ordinary King. Remember, only YHVH gets the first fruit offering.
Now we go to Genesis chapter 15, and we notice something right after this strange meeting between Melchizedek and Abram. YHVH makes His covenant with Abram, whose name is changed to Abraham. YHVH makes him the Father to the Nations and tells him that literally all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.
3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Here we see that YHVH is instituting the blood covenant with Abraham, making him sacrifice several animals by cutting them into halves which YHVH then walks between (known as the Threshold Covenant) and also requires Abraham and all the men under this covenant to be circumcised, showing an outward symbol of the faith and the promise of this Threshold Covenant.
So, how does this involve Melchizedek? Let’s look in the book of Hebrews, chapter 7. When speaking of Melchizedek, the author of Hebrews says he (Melchizedek) was:
3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of YHVH, he remains a priest forever. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt, the lesser is blessed by the greater. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe, Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
In these verses, the author of Hebrews is subtly telling us who Melchizedek is. He says that Melchizedek has no genealogy, no father or mother, no beginning or end of days, that he lived a perfect, indestructible life and he will always have the ability to intercede to the Father on behalf of mankind. The previous verses in the Genesis account tell us that Melchizedek brought out the symbols of the Passover, the bread and wine, that he spoke with authority on behalf of YHVH, had no need for sacrifice and that he accepted Abraham’s first fruit offering (a form of worship only allotted to the God Most High) so, with all these references we get a very clear picture that this mysterious figure of Melchizedek in the Old Testament is actually the pre-incarnate Yeshua.
The Apostle John gives us some of the most famous and beautiful words concerning the personage and manifestation of Yeshua:
1 In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made….14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
So, there we have it. Melchizedek is the pre-incarnate Christ. The living word of YHVH and Most High who blessed Abram and went before him in battle. The same being who brought the bread and wine of the covenant, who cares deeply about the affairs of mankind and intercedes forever for us as our heavenly High Priest. Yeshua, our King.