|Melchizedek - |
("king of righteousness".) King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the most high God (Elion; used by Balaam, Numbers 24:16. The Phoenicians so named their chief god according to Sanchoniathon in Enseb. Praep. Event., doubtless from primitive revelation. After the slaughter of Chedorlaomer Melchizedek met Abram in the valley of Shaveh (level), the king's dale (Genesis 14:17-20; 2 Samuel 18:18), namely, the valley of the upper Kedron, where Absalom long afterward reared a pillar; adjoining Jerusalem. Salem was the oldest, the poetic name (Psalm 76:2), Jebus was the next name, and Jerusalem is the most recent name. This favors the view that Siddim, Sodom, and Gomorrah were to the S. of the Dead Sea. Abram in returning from Dan to Hebron would naturally take the route by Jerusalem (Thomson, Land and Book, 2:31). Adonizedek ("lord of righteousness") corresponds; being also the name of a king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:1).
"Brought forth bread and wine" (1 Samuel 25:18), hospitably to refresh Abram's weary band (which, though not referred to in Hebrew, reminds us of the Lord's supper), probably after sacrificing animals the first fruits of the spoil (as Philo, de Abr., asserts, epinikia ethnee); as indeed Hebrews 8:3 proves, for the "blessing" and "tithing," which alone are recorded, are not enough to constitute priesthood. Abram "the friend of God" recognized him (probably having received some divine intimation) at once as his spiritual superior, and this in a day when every patriarch was the priest of his family. Melchizedek disappears as suddenly as he came. Almost a thousand years elapse before the next notice of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4.) "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou (Messiah) art a priest forever after the order (i.e. 'the similitude' Hebrews 7:15, the office) of Melchizedek": i.e.
(I) Combining the kingship with the priesthood (Zechariah 6:9-15, especially Zechariah 6:13). David cannot be the king priest; he could bring wrath on, but not effect an atonement for, his people (2 Samuel 24:17). Uzziah, heir of his throne, incurred leprosy by usurping the priesthood (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). The divine (Hebrews 7:20) oath accompanying this priesthood, but not the Aaronic, shows its unparalleled excellency. David died, and the Aaronic priests could not continue by reason of death (Hebrews 7:8). The Aaronic priesthood was "made after the law of a carnal commandment," but the Melchizedek priesthood "after the power of an endless life," as is declared a thousand years later than the psalm (Hebrews 7:1-3; Hebrews 7:15-16; Hebrews 7:28). Melchizedek was probably of Semitic stock, for Shemites were in Palestine before the immigration of the Canaanites (Hamites). By the time that Abram arrived "the Canaanite was then (already) in the land" (Genesis 12:6).
(II) Melchizedek is introduced "without father, without, mother, without descent" being recorded, whereas this was an essential in the Aaronic priesthood (see Ezra 2:62-63; Exodus 29:9; Exodus 29:29-30; Leviticus 21:13-14). This is a second peculiarity of Messiah's priesthood, that it is not derived from another before Him, and "passeth not to another" after Him (Hebrews 7:24 margin). The "without father," etc., refers to Melchizedek officially not naturally. Melchizedek was without father, etc., i.e. sacerdotally he was independent of his descent, unlike the Aaronic priests, who forfeited the priesthood if they could not trace their descent (see Nehemiah 7:64-65). Melchizedek had no fixed beginning or end of his king priesthood, such as the Levitical priests, who began at 30 and ended at 50 years of age. Christ as man had "father, mother, beginning of days and end of life, and descent" genealogically traced (Hebrews 7:3).
Melchizedek therefore cannot have been absolutely without these; but officially he was without them, even as the antitypical priest Messiah was officially and sacerdotally without them. Messiah was not of Levi, but of Judah, so did not receive His priesthood by inheritance. He did not transmit it to any successor; nay, the term hiereus (Latin: sacerdos) is never applied to apostle, presbyter, deacon, or any Christian minister in the New Testament Aaron's "end" is recorded, Melchizedek's not. With Melchizedek the king priesthood in Canaan ceased; but Melchizedek's priesthood lasts forever in the Antitype, who is from everlasting to everlasting, and to whom Melchizedek was "made like," for the archetype of Messiah's priesthood existed in the divine mind from everlasting before Melchizedek. Doubtless Melchizedek had father and mother by birth, but as king priest had no predecessor nor successor.
(III) The Aaronic priesthood was local, temporary, and national; the Melchizedek priesthood was prior to the Levitical temporary law, and so world-wide and everlasting. The Aaronic high priest claimed no authority over other nations. Melchizedek was priest not only to his own city Salem, but is recognized as such by Abram the representative of God's church and people; and the king of Sodom tacitly acquiesces in this claim to an universal priesthood. This is the significance of the title, priest of "the Possessor of heaven and earth." Melchizedek is the first and the last who by God's appointment, and in God's name, exercised the priesthood for Shemite and Hamite alike, the forerunner of gospel universality which joins under Christ all of every race (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Romans 10:12).
(IV) Melchizedek was superior to Abram, in that he Blessed and received tithes from him (the giver's token of acknowledgment that all his property is God's), and so was superior to Levi and the Aaronic priesthood which were in Abram's loins. So Messiah is infinitely above the Antonio priests.
(V) Melchizedek as king of "righteousness" (tsedeq) and of "peace" (salem) was "made like unto the Son of God," Messiah, who is both in the highest sense (Isaiah 9:6); the peace He brings is "the fruit of righteousness" (Isaiah 32:17; Jeremiah 23:6). As Balaam was a true prophet among the heathen, so Melchizedek was the king priest among them; but at Melchizedek's time the nations had not so far apostatized from the primitive faith as subsequently.
Melchizedek is the first designated koheen, "priest." God Himself called him to the office, according to Hebrews 5:1-4; Psalm 110:4. As priest, Melchizedek authoritatively mediating between God and man first" blessed Abram" on the part "of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth," who would make Abram heir of the world which is His; next "he blessed the most high God" on the part of Abram for His having delivered his enemies into his hand. Reciprocal blessing, happy exchange; God making over His gift of the world to Abram, and Abram giving to God all the glory of his victory an earnest of his final universal possession (1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 4:13).