From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("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 ( Psalms 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 ( Psalms 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;  Psalms 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).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The original meaning was probably ‘My king is Zedek’; but the name is interpreted ideally in  Hebrews 7:2, where it is taken to mean ‘king of righteousness,’ and at the same time, because of Melchizedek’s rule over Salem (= ‘peace’), ‘king of peace.’ Thus the personal and the official titles point to the actual character of the man. The typical hero, first righteous and therefore self-governed and blessed with the tranquillizing consciousness of the presence of God, appears to the writer as an anticipation of Him in whom alone righteousness and peace are completely realized both in His own person and life and in His gifts to men. Thereupon the writer proceeds to develop the comparison in the interest of his conception of the supreme and permanent priesthood of Jesus Christ.

1. The original source of the story is  Genesis 14:17-20, of which the literary history is still uncertain. It is not an integral part of any of the principal documents, though the chapter as a whole has a few affinities with P. At present the only safe conclusion is that it comes from an independent source, of which the special characteristics cannot yet be determined. Nor is there any real evidence of a lack of historicity. The combination of kingly and priestly offices in one person, who was invested with a sacred character as a descendant of a deity, was a not unusual feature of government in the primitive ages (see J. G. Frazer, Lectures on the Early History of the Kingship , 1905, p. 29 ff.), and may well have prevailed among the Canaanite tribes. Yet the writer of Hebrews need not be regarded as a witness to the historicity of the narrative, or as concerning himself with such a question. He treats Melchizedek ideally rather than historically, and interprets the picture preserved in Genesis without committing himself to any opinion as to its literal or biographical accuracy. His object is not to confirm nor to question the narrative, but to work out a conception of priesthood which he found in the priestly archives of his nation; and in so doing he makes at least as much use of the silences of Scripture as of the assertions. Accordingly, B. F. Westcott ( Hebrews , 1889, p. 199 f.) takes him as pronouncing no judgment on the historical problems, but as eliciting the typical and abiding value of the story.

2. Immediate source of the exposition. -The writer need not be conceived as going back through  Psalms 110:4 to the original tradition in Genesis 14 and working upon it independently; for there is sufficient reason to believe that the narrative had for a couple of centuries engaged the attention of some of the religious leaders of the people, and in the interpretation an interesting development may be traced. ‘God Most High’ ( Hebrews 7:1) is a phrase of frequent occurrence in the Apocrypha (for the passages see E. Hatch and H. A. Redpath, Concordance to the Septuagint , 1892 ff.), especially in Ecclesiasticus; and the title ‘priest of the Most High God’ was revived by the Maccabaean princes, whilst John Hyrcanus (137-105 b.c.) combined in himself the triple functions of prophet, priest, and king (see Josephus, Ant. XIII. x. 7, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) I. ii. 8; and R. H. Charles, Book of Jubilees , 1902, p. lxxxviii, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs , 1908, p. li ff., with references there cited). Evidently the Melchizedek tradition was considered as pointing to the Maccabaean leaders (cf. J. Skinner, Genesis , 1910, on 14:20), in whose period Psalms 110 may have undergone its final liturgical revision. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a Palestinian book; but Philo is a witness for the prevalence of a similar interest in the ancient story in Egypt. He argues in favour of an identification of Melchizedek with the Logos, whose priesthood, however, is viewed as a symbol of the action of reason in bringing righteousness and peace to men (Mangey, i. 103, 533, ii. 34). The thought in Hebrews is clearly an advance, parallel in part to that between the Philonic and the Johannine Logos, but confronting the reader with a religion instead of a philosophy, and with a supreme personal Helper instead of with a dubious process of reasoning.

3. Significance in Hebrews. -The apparent object of the writer was to mark the adequate and final character of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a person He is compared with Melchizedek, whose order of priesthood was confessedly above that of Aaron ( q.v. [Note: .v. quod vide, which see.]); while in regard to priestly acts and functions His efficiency and freedom from limitations are exhibited in comparison with the necessary defects of the Aaronic office. More particularly three features in the story of Melchizedek are singled out. ( a ) He was king as well as priest, and as priest-king he possessed the endowments of righteousness and peace, and was able to impart them with royal bounty. ( b ) He was dissociated from all the relations of time, neither qualified by priestly descent for his office, nor interrupted in its discharge by death ( Hebrews 7:3). ( c ) Accordingly, through these timeless and regal qualities his priesthood becomes unique, incomparably above all Aaronic and Levitical institutions, and with nothing like it in human history until the Incarnate comes upon the stage and takes to Himself a Priesthood in which He admits no peer, and of which eternal and superabundant adequacy is the note (see Priest).

4. Later developments. -In the patristic literature of our period no objection appears to have been taken to the use of the story in Hebrews, though its classification among the alleged theophanies was early and had probably already begun. On the other hand, the Jewish writers adopt an interpretation of their own, either through dislike of the teaching in Hebrews, or in substitution for its application to John Hyrcanus, which had been discredited by the collapse of his influence before the end of his reign. Shem was identified with Melchizedek in early parts of the Talmud and Targums ( Nedarim , 32 b , Sanhedrin , 108 b , Targ. [Note: Targum.] Jonathan ), and the narrative was taken to mean that the priesthood was transferred to Abraham, while the rest of the descendants of Shem were excluded. Another tradition distinguishes Shem from Melchizedek, but associates them in the work of transferring the body of Adam to Jerusalem. The story survives with many embellishments in the Ethiopic Book of Adam  ; and only for its beginnings, with mixed Jewish and Christian influences at work upon it, can a place be allowed within our century.

R. W. Moss.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

MELCHIZEDEK. Described as king of Salem and priest of God Most High ( ‘El ‘Elyôn ), who met Abraham on his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and his allies, refreshed him and his servants with bread and wine, blessed him, and received from him a tenth of the spoil he had taken (  Genesis 14:18-20 ). Salem has been variously identified: (1) with the Shalem of   Genesis 33:18 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ), a place a little to the E. of Mt. Gerizim and not far from Shechem; (2) with the Salim of   John 3:23 in the Jordan Valley S. of Scythopolis; and (3) with Jerusalem , which is called Salem in   Psalms 76:2 . The last identification is much the most probable; for though it is implied in   Joshua 15:8;   Joshua 15:63 ,   Judges 19:10 that Jerusalem was called Jebus so long as it was inhabited by the Jebusites ( i.e . up to the time of David), the name Jerusalem really goes back to the 14th cent. b.c., since it appears in the Tell el-Amarna tablets as Uru-salim . This view has the support of Josephus ( Ant . I. x. 2), and further obtains some slight confirmation from the resemblance of the name of Melchizedek to that of Adonizedek, who was king of Jerusalem in the time of Joshua (  Joshua 10:3 ), the element zedek in each name being probably that of a Canaanite deity.

The historical character of the narrative in which Melchizedek is mentioned has been questioned on the ground of certain improbabilities which it contains; but though the events related have received no corroboration from other sources, the names of two of the kings who fought against Abraham, viz. Amraphel and Arioch, have with some plausibility been identified with those of Hammurabi and Eriaku, contemporary kings of Babylon and Larsa about b.c. 2200; so that, if the identification is correct, it confirms the setting of the story, though not its incidents. For the name and personality of Melchizedek no independent confirmatory evidence has yet been obtained.

In  Psalms 110:4 , to the ideal king of Jewish hopes, the Messiah, there is promised an endless priesthood ‘after the order of Melchizedek.’ This ascription of priestly functions to a sovereign who was expected to be of the house of David and the tribe of Judah is evidently meant as an exceptional distinction, and implies that the writer lived at a time when priests in Israel were taken exclusively from the tribe of Levi, as was the case after the promulgation of the Deuteronomic law (probably in the 7th cent.). At an earlier date persons belonging to other tribes than that of Levi were sometimes priests: David’s sons (  2 Samuel 8:18 ); and Ira the Jairite (  2 Samuel 20:26 ), who belonged to Manasseh (  Numbers 32:41 ); but the author of   Psalms 110:1-7 , in seeking a type for the combination in the same person of both the regal and priestly offices, had to go outside the limits of Israel, and found what he wanted in the priest-king of Salem, who was all the more adapted for the purpose by reason of the deference paid to him by so illustrious a personage as Abraham.

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, identifying Jesus with the Messiah, and asserting His high priesthood, cites the words of  Psalms 110:1-7 , and declares that He was named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (  Hebrews 5:10 ). He then proceeds to show the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over that of the Jewish priests, the descendants of Aaron, and seeks to illustrate it by the superiority of Melchizedek over Abraham, as he gathers it from   Genesis 14:1-24 . He explains Melchizedek’s name to mean ‘king of righteousness,’ and his title of ‘king of Salem’ to mean ‘king of peace’; and then, arguing from the silence of the record respecting his parentage, birth, and death, describes him as ‘without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God,’ and affirms him to have been greater than Abraham, since he blessed him (‘for without any dispute the less is blessed of the better’) and received from him (and through him from his unborn descendants the Levitical priests) a tithe of his spoils (  Hebrews 7:1-16 ). In this passage much of the writer’s argument is fanciful, the narrative in Genesis being handled after a Rabbinic fashion, and the parallel drawn between our Lord and Melchizedek being largely based on the mere omission, in the OT record, of certain particulars about the latter, which, for the historian’s purpose, were obviously irrelevant. At the same time it may perhaps be said that, as contrasted with the Levitical priests who succeeded to their priestly offices by reason of their descent, an ancient priest-king is really typical of our Lord, inasmuch as it is likely that, in a primitive age, such a one would owe his position to his natural endowments and force of character. It was in virtue of His personality that our Lord made, and makes, His appeal to the world; and to the authoritativeness of His attitude in regard to the current teaching of the Jewish religious teachers of His day (  Matthew 5:21-48 ,   Mark 7:1-28 ) a distant analogy is, in fact, afforded by the superior position which in Genesis seems to be ascribed to Melchizedek in respect of Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish race. See also art. Priest (in NT).

G. W. Wade.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

Priest of "God Most High" who appeared in patriarchal times, but whose significance was remembered throughout Old Testament times and eventually explained in the Book of Hebrews.

Melchizedek and Abraham . Melchizedek of Salem came out to pronounce a blessing on Abraham who was on his way back to Hebron after rescuing Lot from Kedorlaomer, king of the East ( Genesis 14:18-24 ). Melchizedek provided food and wine for a sacral meal. As they ate, Melchizedek pronounced a blessing on Abraham in the name of God Most High.

The willingness with which Abraham acceded to Melchizedek as a priest of God Most High is a most interesting aspect of this narrative. This name apparently connoted the same meaningful theology to Abraham as the name "God Almighty" ( Exodus 6:3 ). Abraham also equated God with "Creator of heaven and earth" ( Genesis 14:22; cf. v. 19 ) in his ascription-confessional to the king of Sodom.

A Priest Forever .  Psalm 110:4 reads: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'" This is a royal psalm. Two significant points are made about the One who is to sit at God's right hand. First, the order of Melchizedek is declared to be an eternal order. Second, this announcement is sealed with God's oath. Neither of these affirmations applied to the Aaronic order of priesthood.

Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek . The Book of Hebrews presents Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, as a priest after the order of Melchizedek (4:14-7:28, esp. 5:5-11; 6:13-7:28). The author draws directly from  Psalm 110:4 several crucial points to explain that the high priesthood of Christ has superseded and is superior to the priesthood of Aaron.

First, the priesthood of Melchizedek is an "order forever" (5:10). In contrast, the priesthood of Aaron had a history of disruptions and termination.

Second, the references to being "without father or mother" (7:3) and to being an "order forever" (7:3,16, 17,24) are to be understood as referring to the kind of priestly order rather than to the longevity of a particular priest of Abraham's time. Jesus even carries the longevity of his priesthood back to the Godhead (7:15,26; cf.  1 Peter 1:20 ).

Third, the divine guarantee for the priesthood of Melchizedek rests on God's oath.

For the writer of Hebrews to look at these Old Testament passages about Melchizedek along christological lines is in keeping with the practice of other New Testament writers. Early Christians were convinced that it was they upon whom the end of the ages had come and hence felt that the Old Testament was written in some divinely intended way to point to them.

Harvey E. Finley

See also Theology Of Hebrews; Priesthood Priest

Bibliography . G. W. Buchanan, To the Hebrews  ; M. Dahood, Psalms III: 101-150  ; E. A. Speiser, Genesis  ; R. S. Taylor, Hebrews-Revelation .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Melchiz'edek. (King Of Righteousness). King of Salem, and priest of the most high God, who met Abram in the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's valley, bought out bread and wine, blessed him, and received tithes from him.  Genesis 14:18-20. The other places in which Melchizedek is mentioned are  Psalms 110:4, where Messiah is described as a priest forever, "after the order of Melchizedek," and  Hebrews 5:1;  Hebrews 6:1;  Hebrews 7:1, where these two passages of the Old Testament are quoted, and the typical relation of Melchizedek to our Lord is stated at great length.

There is something surprising and mysterious in the first appearance of Melchizedek, and in the subsequent reference to him. Bearing a title, which Jews in after ages would recognize as designating their own sovereign, bearing gifts which recall to Christians the Lord's Supper, this Canaanite crosses, for a moment, the path of Abram, and is unhesitatingly recognized as a person of higher spiritual rank than the friend of God. Disappearing as suddenly as he came, he is lost to the sacred writings for a thousand years.

Jewish tradition pronounces Melchizedek to be a survivor of the deluge, the patriarch Shem. The way in which he is mentioned in Genesis would rather lead to the inference that Melchizedek was of one blood with the children of Ham, among whom he lived, chief , (like the king of Sodom), of a settled Canaanitish tribe.

The "order of Melchizedek," in  Psalms 110:4, is explained to mean "manner" = likeness in official dignity = a king and priest. The relation between Melchizedek and Christ as type and antitype, is made in the Epistle to the Hebrews to consist in the following particulars: Each was a priest, (1) not of the Levitical tribe; (2) superior to Abraham; (3) whose beginning and end are unknown; (4) who is not only a priest, but also a king of righteousness and peace. A fruitful source of discussion has been found in the site of Salem. See Salem .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

When Abram returned from the slaughter of the Assyrians, in his way to Hebron, he was met at Shaveh, or King's Dale, afterward the valley of Jehoshaphat, between Jerusalem and Mount Olivet, by Melchizedek, king of Salem, the most ancient quarter of Jerusalem, a priest of the most high God, who gave him bread and wine, and blessed him in the name of the "most high God, Creator of heaven and earth;" to whom Abram in return piously gave tithes, or the tenth part of all the spoils as an offering to God,  Hebrews 7:2 . This Canaanitish prince was early considered as a type of Christ in the Jewish church: "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek,"  Psalms 110:4 . He resembled Christ in the following particulars:

1. In his name, Melchizedek, "King of Righteousness;"

2. In his city, Salem, "Peace;"

3. In his offices of king and priest of the most high God; and

4. In the omission of the names of his parents and genealogy, the time of his birth and length of his life, exhibiting an indefinite reign and priesthood, according to the Apostle's exposition,   Hebrews 7:5 .

The import of this is, that he came not to his office by right of primogeniture, (which implies a genealogy,) or by the way of succession, but was raised up and immediately called of God to it. In that respect Christ is said to be a priest after his "order." Then, again, that he had no successor, nor could have; for there was no law to constitute an order of succession, so that he was a priest only upon an extraordinary call. In this respect our Lord's priesthood answers to his, because it is wholly in himself, who has no successor. An infinite number of absurd opinions have been at different times held respecting this mystic personage, as that he was Shem, or Ham; or, among those who think he was more than human, that he was the Holy Ghost, or the Son of God himself; absurdities which are too obsolete to need refutation.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

When Abraham was returning from victory over a group of invaders, he was met by Melchizedek, the ruler of the Canaanite city-state of Salem. (This appears to be the place later known as Jerusalem.) Like Abraham, Melchizedek was a worshipper of the Most High God. In fact, he was God’s priest, and he reminded Abraham that God was the one who had given Abraham victory. Abraham acknowledged this by offering to God a costly sacrifice, which he presented through God’s priest ( Genesis 14:17-20;  Hebrews 7:1-4).

Several centuries later, when the nation Israel had settled in Canaan, David conquered Jerusalem and made it his national capital. To celebrate his victory he wrote a psalm to be sung by the Levitical singers. It was as if David had become a successor to Melchizedek and heir to all Melchizedek’s titles. As ruler of Salem, he was like a king-priest who represented God to his people and whose authority seemed unlimited (Psalms 110).

When the psalm was applied literally to David, it was extravagant, but in later times Jews applied it to the expected Messiah. Jesus agreed that this was a correct application ( Matthew 22:42-45). A song of lavish praise, extravagant when applied to David, was fitting when applied to Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, and his priesthood is complete and eternal. Like Melchizedek, Christ is a king and a priest, a combination not allowed in the traditional Israelite system. The Levitical priests of Israel kept family records of people’s ancestry, birth and death, to confirm a person’s right to the priesthood. But there were no such records for Melchizedek, as his kind of priesthood was not limited by time or Levitical laws. In this way he foreshadowed Christ, whose priesthood is for all people of all eras and all nations ( Hebrews 7:3;  Hebrews 7:15-17; see PRIEST, sub-heading ‘The high priesthood of Jesus’).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Melchizedek, or Melchisedec ( Mel-Kĭz'-E-Dĕk ), the Greek form in the New Testament ( King Of Righteousness), is mentioned in  Genesis 14:18-20 as king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, meeting Abram in the valley of Shaveh, bringing out bread and wine to him, blessing him, and receiving tithes from him; in  Psalms 110:4, where Messiah is described as a priest "after the order of Melchizedek;" and finally, in  Hebrews 5:6-7, where the typical relations between Melchizedek and Christ are defined, both being priests without belonging to the Levitical tribe, superior to Abram, of unknown beginning and end, and kings of righteousness and peace. The short but impressive account of Melchizedek in Genesis, and the striking though mystical applications made in the Psalms and the Epistle to the Hebrews, have given rise to various interpretations. One Jewish tradition considers him to be a survivor of the Deluge, the patriarch Shem, and thus entitled by his very age to bless the father of the faithful, and by his position as ruler of Canaan to confer his rights to Abram. Another tradition, equally old, but not so widely accepted, considers him to be an angel, the Son of God in human form, the Messiah. Modern scholars, arguing back from the expositions given in the Epistle to the Hebrews, consider him to be a descendant of Ham, a priest among the heathen, constituted by God himself; and given a title above that of the ordinary patriarchal priesthood, even above that of Abram.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

King of righteousness, king of Salem, and also priest of the most high God, in which capacity he blessed Abraham, and received tithes at his hand,  Genesis 14:18-20 . Scripture tells us nothing of his father or mother, of his genealogy, his birth, or his death; he stands alone, without predecessor or successor, a royal priest by the appointment of God; and thus he was a type of Jesus Christ, who is "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek," and not after the order of Aaron, whose origin, consecration, life, and death, are known,  Psalm 110:4   Hebrews 7:1-28 . See Genealogy .

It has been a matter of great inquiry among commentators, who Melchizedek really was. He has been variously supposed to be the Holy Spirit, the Son of God, an angel, Enoch and Shem. But the safest and most probable opinion is that which considers Melchizedek as a righteous and peaceful king, a worshiper and priest of the most high God, in the land of Caanan; a friend of Abraham, and of a rank elevated above him. This opinion, indeed, lies upon the very face of the sacred record in  Genesis 14:1-24   Hebrews 7:1-28 , and it is the only one that can be defeated on any tolerable grounds of interpretation. See Salem .

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

Old Testament When Abraham returned from the Valley of Siddim where he defeated Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and the kings aligned with Kedorlaomer, Melchizedek greeted Abraham with bread and wine. He blessed Abraham in the name of “God Most High.” In return, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

Melchizedek and Abraham both worshiped the one true God. Abraham also appeared to recognize the role of Melchizedek as a priest.  Psalm 110:4 refers to one who would be forever a priest in the “order of Melchizedek.” This messianic psalm teaches that the leader or ruler of the Hebrew nation would be able to reflect in his person the role of priest as well as the role of king.

New Testament The writer of Hebrews made several references in  Hebrews 5-7 to Jesus' priesthood being of the “order of Melchizedek” as opposed to Levitical in nature. The author of Hebrews cited   Psalm 110:4 . For the writer of Hebrews, only Jesus whose life could not be destroyed by death fit the psalmist's description of a priest of the “order of Melchizedek.”

Judith Wooldridge

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Genesis 14:18-20 Psalm 110:4

The question as to who this mysterious personage was has given rise to a great deal of modern speculation. It is an old tradition among the Jews that he was Shem, the son of Noah, who may have survived to this time. Melchizedek was a Canaanitish prince, a worshipper of the true God, and in his peculiar history and character an instructive type of our Lord, the great High Priest ( Hebrews 5:6,7;  6:20 ). One of the Amarna tablets is from Ebed-Tob, king of Jerusalem, the successor of Melchizedek, in which he claims the very attributes and dignity given to Melchizedek in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [12]

 Hebrews 7:1 (a) Scholars disagree on the position occupied by this priest. Some are quite sure that he was an Old Testament incarnation of Christ Jesus Himself. Others believe that he was a strange, unusual character who was a type of the Saviour. The evidence is not too clear, and the reader may use either conclusion that he feels the Scriptures justify.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

(Hebrews Malki'-Tse'dek, מִלְכַּיאּצֶדֶק , King Of Righteousness , i.e. righteous king, comp. Hebrews vii 2; Sept. and N.T. Μελχισεδέκ , and so Anglicized in the N.T. "Melchisedec;" Josephus, Μελχισεδέκης , Ant . 1:10, 2), the "priest of the most high God," and king of Salem, who went forth to meet Abraham on his return from the pursuit of Chedorlaomer and his allies, who had carried Lot away captive. The interview is described as haying occurred in the "valley of Shaveh (or the level valley), which is the king's valley." He brought refreshment, described in the general terms of "bread and wine," for the fatigued warriors, and bestowed his blessing upon their leader, who, in return, gave to the royal priest a tenth of all the spoil which had been acquired in his expedition ( Genesis 14:18;  Genesis 14:20). BC. cir. 2080. (See Abraham).

In one of the Messianic Psalms (cx. 4) it is foretold that the Messiah should be "a priest after the order of Melchizedek;" which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (vi. 20) cites as showing that Melchizedek was a type of Christ, and the Jews themselves, certainly, on the authority of this passage of the Psalms, regarded Melchizedek as a type of the regal-priesthood, higher than that of Aaron, to which the Messiah should belong. The bread and wine which were set forth on the table of show-bread, was also supposed to be represented by the bread and wine which the king of Salem brought forth to Abraham (Schottgen, Hor. Hebrews 2:615). In the following discussions respecting his person, office, and locality, we substantially adhere to the traditionary view of this character.

There is something surprising and mysterious in the first appearance of Melchizedek, and in the subsequent references to him. Bearing a title which Jews in afterages would recognise as designating their own sovereign, bringing gifts which recall to Christians the Lord's Supper, this Canaanite crosses for a moment the path of Abraham, and is unhesitatingly recognised as a person of higher spiritual rank than the friend of God. Disappearing as suddenly as he came in, he is lost to the sacred writings for a thousand years, and then a few emphatic' words for another-moment bring him into sight as a type of the coming Lord of David. Once more, after another thousand years, the Hebrew Christians are taught to see in him a proof that it was the consistent purpose of God to abolish the Levitical priesthood. His person, his office, his relation to Christ, and the seat of his sovereignty, have given rise to innumerable discussions, which even now can scarcely be considered as settled. Hence the faith of early ages ventured to invest his person with superstitious awe.

A mysterious supremacy came also to be assigned to him (" the great high-priest," Philo, Opp. 2:34) by reason of his having received tithes from the Hebrew patriarch; and on this point the Epistle to the Hebrews ( Hebrews 7:1-10) expatiates strongly. But the Jews, in admitting this official or personal superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham, sought to account for it by alleging that the royal priest was no other than Shem, the most pious of Noah's sons, who, according to the shorter chronology might have lived to the time of Abraham (Bochart, Phaleg, 2:1), and who, as a survivor of the deluge, is supposed to have been authorized by the superior dignity of old age to bless even the father of the faithful, and entitled, as the paramount lord of Canaan ( Genesis 9:26), to convey (xiv. 19) his right to Abraham. Jerome, in his Ep. lxxiii, ad Evangelum (in Opp. 1:438), which is entirely devoted to a consideration of the person and dwelling-place of Melchizedek, states that this was the prevailing opinion of the Jews in his time; and it is ascribed to the Samaritans by Epiphanius (Haer. 55:6, p. 472). It was afterwards embraced by Luther and Melancthon, by H. Broughton, Selden, Lightfoot (Chor. Marco proem. ch. 10:1, § 2), Jackson (On the Creed, bk. ix, § 2), and by many others. Equally old, perhaps, but less widely diffused, is the supposition, not unknown to Augustine (Quest. in Genesis lxxii, in Opp. 3:396), and ascribed by Jerome (l. c.) to Origen and Didymus, that Melchizedek was an angel. The fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries record with reprobation the tenet of the Melchizedekians that he was a Power, Virtue, or Influence of God (August. De Hceresibus, § 34, in Opp. 8:11; Theodoret, Hoeret. fab. 2:6, p. 332; Epiphan. Hoer. 55:1, p. 468; comp. Cyril Alexand. Glaph. in Genesis 2:57) superior to Christ (Chrysost. Hom . In Melchiz . in Opp . vi, p. 269) and the not less daring conjecture of Hieracas and his followers that Melchizedek was the Holy Ghost (Epiphan. Hoer . lxvii. 3, p. 711, and 55:5, p. 472). Epiphanius also mentions (Leviticus 7, p. 474) some members of the Church as holding the erroneous opinion that Melchizedek was the Son of God appearing in human form an opinion which Ambrose (De Abrah. i, § 3, in Opp. 1:288) seems willing to receive, and which has been adopted by many modern, critics. Similar to this was a Jewish opinion that he was the Messiah (ap. Deyling, Obs. Sacr. 2:73; Schittgen, 1. c.; comp. the book Sohar, ap. Wolf, Curae Philippians in  Hebrews 7:1). Moder writers have added to these conjectures that he may have been Ham (Jurieu), or a descendant of Japhet (Owen), or of Shem (ap. Deyling, 1. C .), or Job (Kohlreis), or Mizraim, or Canaan, or even Enoch (Deyling, Observat. Sacr . 2:71 sq.; Clayton, Chronology Of The Hebrews Bible , p. 100). Other guesses may be found in Deyling ( 1. C .) and in Pfeiffer ( De Persona Melch . in Opp . p. 51).

All these opinions are unauthorized additions to Holy Scripture-many of them seem to be irreconcilable with it. The conjecture, however, which holds Melchizedek to have been Shem (see Jerome, ad Isaiah xli), and which we find in Rashi on Genesis as well as in the Jerusalem Targum, and also that of Jonathan (ad loc. Gen.), but not in that of Onkelos, requires an explanation how his name came to be changed, how he is found reigning in a country inhabited by the descendants of Ham, how he came forth to congratulate Abraham on the defeat of one of his own descendants, as was Chedorlaomer, and how he could be said to have been without recorded parentage ( Hebrews 7:3), since the pedigree of Shem must have been notorious. In that case, also, the difference of the priesthoods of Melchizedek and. Levi would not be so distinct as to bear the argument which the Epistle to the Hebrews founds upon it. Rejecting on such grounds this opinion, others, as we have seen, in their anxiety to vindicate the dignity of Abraham from marks of spiritual submission to, any mortal man, have held that Melchizedek was no other than the Son of God himself. But in this case it would hardly have been said that he was made " Like unto the Son of God" ( Hebrews 7:3), or that Christ was constituted" a priest" after the order of Melchizedek ( Hebrews 6:20), or, in other words, was a type of himself. The best founded opinion seems to be that of Carpzov ( Apparat. Antiq. Sacr. Cod . chap. iv, p. 52) and most judicious moderns, who, after Josephus (War, 6:10), allege that he: was a principal person among the Canaanites and posterity of Noah, and eminent for holiness and justice, and therefore discharged the priestly as well as regal functions among the people; and we may conclude that his twofold capacity of king and priest (characters very commonly muted in the remote ages; see Schwebel,. De causis conjunctce olim c. regno sacerdotii dignitatis, Onold. 1769; JG. Miller, De regibus ap. antiq. populos sacerdotibus, Jen. 1746) afforded Abraham an opportunity of testifying his thankfulness to God, in the manner usual in those times, by offering a tenth of all the spoil. This combination of' characters happens for the first time in Scripture to be exhibited in his person, which, with the abrupt manner in which he is introduced, and the nature of the intercourse between him and Abraham, render him in various respects an appropriate and obvious type of the Messiah in his united regal and priestly character. The way in which he is mentioned in Genesis would lead to the immediate inference that Melchizedek was of one blood with the children of Ham, among whom he lived, chief (like the king of Sodom) of a settled Canaanitish tribe. This was the opinion of most of the early fathers (ap. Jerome, 1. c.), of Theodoret (in Genesis lxiv, p. 77), and Epiphanius (Hoer. lxvii, p. 716), and is now generally received (see Grotius in Hebr.; Patrick's Commentary in Gen.; Bleek, Hebraer, 2:303; Ebrard, Hebraer; Fairbairn, Typology, 2:313, ed. 1854). As Balaam was a prophet, so Melchizedek was a priest among the corrupted heathen (Philo, Abrah. 39; Euseb. Praep. Evang. 1:9), not self-appointed (as Chrysostom suggests, Hom. in Genesis 35, § 5; comp.  Hebrews 5:4), but constituted by a special gift from God, and recognised as such by him.

Melchizedek combined the offices of priest and king, as was not uncommon in patriarchal times. Nothing is said to distinguish his kingship from that of the contemporary kings of Canaan; but the emphatic words in which he is described, by a title never given even to Abraham, as a "priest of the most high God," as blessing Abraham and receiving tithes from him, seem to imply that his priesthood was something more (see Hengstenberg, Christol. Psalms 110) than an ordinary patriarchal priesthood, such as Abraham himself and other heads of families ( Job 1:5) exercised. Although it has been observed (Pearson, On The Creed , p. 122, ed. 1843) that we read of no other sacerdotal act performed by Melchizedek, but only that of blessing [and receiving tithes, Pfeiffer]; yet; it may be assumed that he was accustomed to discharge all the ordinary duties of those who are "ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices" ( Hebrews 8:3); and we might concede (with Philo, Grotius, 1. C ., and others) that his regal hospitality to Abraham was possibly preceded by an unrecorded sacerdotal act of oblation to God, without implying that his hospitality was in itself, as recorded in Genesis, a sacrifice.

The " order of Melchizedek," in  Psalms 110:4, is explained by Gesenius and Rosenmuller to mean " manner" =likeness in official dignity = a king and priest. The relation between Melchizedek and Christ as type and antitype is made in the Epistle to the Hebrews to consist in the following particulars:

1. Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God by an immediate divine constitution; so Christ was a priest after his order, and not after that of Aaron.

2. Melchizedek derived his priestly office from no predecessor, and delivered it down to no successor; in this respect Christ also stands alone: " Our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood."

3. Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, consequently his priesthood was superior to that of Levi and his descendants. So Christ's priesthood was superior to the Aaronic.

4. Melchizedek was The Priest Appointed to exercise his office in behalf of all the worshippers of the true God; so Christ is the universal priest, the only one appointed to make intercession for our guilty race.

5. Melchizedek's priesthood was limited to no definite time; this circumstance is noticed just as it would have been had his priesthood had neither beginning nor end " Christ is a priest forever" ( Psalms 110:4). 6. Each sustained the high honors of king and priest; and the significant appellations are applied to birth. "Righteous King and King of Peace" ( Isaiah 32:1;  Isaiah 7:6-7). In the Messianic prediction ( Psalms 110:4), ".Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek," the phrase " Forever " is not to be understood in the absolute sense, either of Melchizedek's priesthood or of Christ's. Melchizedek's priesthood terminated with his life; so Christ's priestly and kingly office as Mediator will both cease when the work of redemption is fully accomplished ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). But in neither case is there any statute which limits the specified accession to office and of egress from it. To these points of agreement, noted by the apostle, human ingenuity has added others which, however, stand in need of the evidence of either an inspired writer or an eye-witness before they can be received as facts and applied to establish any doctrine. Thus J. Johnson (Unbloody Sacrifice, 1:123, ed. 1847) asserts on very slender evidence that the fathers who refer to  Genesis 14:18, understood that Melchizedek offered the bread and wine to God; and hence he infers that one great part of our Saviour's Melchizedekian priesthood consisted in offering bread and wine. Bellarmine asks in what other respects is Christ a priests after the order of Melchizedek. Waterland, who does not lose sight of the deep significancy of Melchizedek's action, has replied to Johnson in his Appendix to "the Christian Sacrifice explained" (ch. iii, § 2, Works, v. 165, ed. 1843). Bellarmine's question is sufficiently answered by Whitaker, Disputation on Scripture (Quest. ii, ch. x, p. 168, ed. 1849). The sense of the fathers, who sometimes expressed themselves in rhetorical language, is cleared from misinterpretation by bishop Jewel, Reply to Harding, art. xvii (Works, 2:731, ed. 1847). In Jackson, On the Creed (bk. ix, § 2, ch. vi-xi, p. 955 sq.), there is a lengthy but valuable account of the priesthood of Melchizedek; and the views of two different theological schools are ably stated by Aquinas (Summa, 3:22, § 6) and Turretin (Theologia, 2:443-453).

Another fruitful source of discussion has been found in the site of Salem and Shaveh, which certainly lay in Abraham's road from Hobah to the plain of Mamre, and which are assumed to be near to each other. The various theories may be briefly enumerated as follows:

(1) Salem is supposed to have occupied in Abraham's time the ground on which afterwards Jebus and then Jerusalem stood; and Shaveh to be the valley east of Jerusalem through which the Kidron flows. This opinion, abandoned by Reland ( Pal . p. 833), but adopted by Winer, is supported by the facts that Jerusalem is called Salem in  Psalms 76:2, and that Josephus (Ant . 1:10, 2) and the Targums distinctly assert their identity; that the king's dale ( 2 Samuel 18:18), identified in  Genesis 14:17, with Shaveh, is placed by Josephus (Ant . 7:10, 3), and by mediaeval and modern tradition (see Ewald, Gesch . 3:239), in the immediate neighborhood of Jerusalem; that the name of a later king of Jerusalem, Adonizedek (Joshua x,l), sounds like that of a legitimate successor of Melchizedek; and that Jewish writers.(Ap . Schottgen, Hor. Hebrews in  Hebrews 7:2) claim Zedek= righteousness, as a name of Jerusalem.

(2) Jerome ( Opp . 1:446) denies that Salem is Jerusalem, and asserts that it is identical with a town-near Scythopolis or Bethshan,'which in his time retained the name of Salem, and in which some extensive ruins were shown as the remains of Melchizedek's palace. He supports this view by quoting  Genesis 30:18, where, however, the translation is questionable; compare the mention of Salem in  Judith 4:4, and in  John 3:23.

(3) Stanley, ( S. And P . p. 237) is of opinion that there is every probability that Mount Gerizim is the place where Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High, met Abraham. Eupolemus (ap. Eusebius, Prep. Evang. 9:17), in a confused version of this story, names Argerizim, the mount of the Most High, as the place in which Abraham was hospital bly entertained. (4) Ewald, Gesch. 3:239) denies positively that it is Jerusalem, and says that it must be north of Jerusalem on the other side of Jordan (i. 410): an opinion which Rodiger (Gesen. Thesaurus, p. 1422 b) condemns. There, too, Stanley thinks that the king's dale was situate, near the spot where Absalom fell. (See King'S Dale).

Some Jewish writers have held the opinion that Melchizedek was the writer and Abraham the subject of Psalm cx. See Deyling, Obs. Sacr. 3:137. It may suffice to mention that there is a fabulous life of Melchizedek printed among the spurious works of Athanasius, 4:189.

Reference may be made to the following works in addition to those already mentioned: two tracts on Melchizedek by M. J. H. von Elswick, in the Thesaurus Novus Theolog.-philologicus; L. Borgisius, Historia Critica Melchisedeci (Bern. 1706); Quandt, De sacerdotio Melch. (Regiom. 1737); Gaillard, Melchisedecus Christus (Leyd. 1686); M. C. Hoffman, De Melchisedeco (1669); H. Broughton, Treatise on Melchizedek (1591); Kirchmaier, De Melchisedecho (Rotterd. 1696); Lange, idem (Hal. 1713,1714); Danhauer, idem (Strasb.1684); Pietsch, idem (Hale, .1713); Reinhart, idem (Wittenb. 1751); Wahner, idem (Gitt. 1745); Henderson, Melchisedek (Lond. 1839); and other monographs cited in Darling, Cyclop. Bibliogr. col. 183,1607. See also J. A. Fabricius, Cod. Pseudepig. V. T.; P. Molinaeus, Vates, etc. (1640), 4:11; J. H. Heidegger, Hist. Sacr. Patriarcharum (1671), 2:288; Hottinger, Ennead. Disput.; P. Cuneus, De Republ.  Hebrews 3:3, apud Crit. Sacr . vol. v; Ursini, Analect. Sacr . 1:349; Krahmer, in Illgen's Zeitschr. 7:4, p. 87; Auberlein, in the Stud. u. Krit. 3:1857, 453 sq.; Presb. Quar. Revelation Oct. 1861.

Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia [14]

During Abram's sojourn in Canaan this priest and king met and Treated him with hospitality ( Genesis 14:18-20 ). Much mystery appears to hang about this distinguished personage. Various theories have been Advanced concerning him. Some assert that he was God Almighty. This is Not a fact, for he was "the priest of the most high God" ( Genesis 14:18 ). Others assert that he was Jesus Christ. This is not a fact, for he was "Made like the Son of God" ( Hebrews 7:3 ). It is asserted in the Scriptures that he was a man ( Hebrews 7:1-4 ). If you will reflect that the Scriptures deal with him in his official capacity, the difficulties and Mysteries surrounding him will immediately vanish. Let us take a closer View. The history of the world, from the Biblical standpoint, naturally Divides itself into three different periods, which for want of better Terms I will designate,

  1. the Patriarchal dispensation,
  2. the Jewish dispensation,
  3. the Christian dispensation.

Each dispensation is characterized by a priesthood peculiarly its own. There was no regular priestly line from the transgression to the giving Of the law of Moses. In a general way, it may be asserted that every Man was his own priest (  Genesis 4:1-4;  Genesis 12:7,8;  Genesis 15:8-18;  Genesis 26:19-25;  Genesis 31:43-55   Genesis 35:1-15;  Genesis 46:1 ). During this age Melchizedek appeared. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God. We know nothing of his duties Or prerogatives as priest or king. We know that he did not belong to Any special priestly order. His priestly office was independent of all Other men. In the priestly office he was without father, and without Mother, and without descent. No record was kept of his installation as Priest, his official acts, or his death, hence, so far as the record is Concerned, he was without beginning of days or end of life. At the Inauguration of the second dispensation an entire family was set apart To the priestly office, and the priestly office remained in that Family, and was transmitted from father to son and from generation to Generation to the death of Christ ( Exodus 29:1,29;  Numbers 17:1-13;  Numbers 18:1-7   Hebrews 7:11,23-28 ). David predicted that a priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek ( Psalm 110:4 ). This is repeatedly affirmed by the author of Hebrews. The priesthood of the Christian dispensation is After the order of Melchizedek, and not after the order of Aaron. Jesus became a priest when he entered heaven by his own blood ( Hebrews 8:1-4;  Hebrews 10:11-12 ). His priesthood is independent. He had no predecessor, and he will have no successor. He will remain in heaven And officiate as priest until the work of redemption is done.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Melchiz´edek, (king of righteousness), 'priest of the most high God,' and king of Salem, who went forth to meet Abraham on his return from the pursuit of Chedorlaomer and his allies, who had carried Lot away captive. He brought refreshment, described in the general terms of 'bread and wine,' for the fatigued warriors, and bestowed his blessing upon their leader, who, in return, gave to the royal priest a tenth of all the spoil which had been acquired in his expedition .

This statement seems sufficiently plain, and to offer nothing very extraordinary; yet it has formed the basis of much speculation and controversy. In particular, the fact that Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek attracted much attention among the later Jews. In one of the Messianic Psalms , it is foretold that the Messiah should be 'a priest after the order of Melchizedek;' which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews cites as showing that Melchizedek was a type of Christ, and the Jews themselves, certainly on the authority of this passage of the Psalms, regarded Melchizedek as a type of the regal-priesthood, higher than that of Aaron, to which the Messiah should belong. The bread and wine which were set forth on the table of show-bread, was also supposed to be represented by the bread and wine which the King of Salem brought forth to Abraham (Schottgen, Hor. Heb. ii. 645). A mysterious supremacy came also to be assigned to Melchizedek, by reason of his having received tithes from the Hebrew patriarch; and on this point the Epistle to the Hebrews expatiates strongly, as showing the inferiority of the priesthood represented, to that of Melchizedek, to which the Messiah belonged. 'Consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils;' and he goes on to argue that the Aaronic priesthood, who themselves received tithes of the Jews, actually paid tithes to Melchizedek in the person of their great ancestor. This superiority is, as we take it, inherent in his typical rather than his personal character. But the Jews, in admitting this official or personal superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham, sought to account for it by alleging that the royal priest was no other than Shem, the most pious of Noah's sons, who, according to the shorter chronology, might have lived to the time of Abraham. Such conjectures require no refutation. The best founded opinion seems to be that of Carpzov and the most judicious moderns, who, after Josephus, allege that Melchizedek was a principal person among the Canaanites and posterity of Noah, and eminent for holiness and justice, and therefore discharged the priestly as well as regal functions among the people: and we may conclude that his twofold capacity of king and priest (characters very commonly united in the remote ages) afforded Abraham an opportunity of testifying his thankfulness to God in the manner usual in those times, by offering a tenth of all the spoil. This combination of characters happens for the first time in Scripture to be exhibited in his person, which, with the abrupt manner in which he is introduced, and the nature of the intercourse between him and Abraham, render him in various respects an appropriate and obvious type of the Messiah in his united regal and priestly character.

Salem, of which Melchizedek was king, is usually supposed to have been the original of Jerusalem.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [16]

E . king of righteousness or justice), a priest-king of Canaan, to whom, though of no lineage as a priest, but as a minister of God's justice, Abraham did homage and paid tithes; a true type of priest as ordained of God, and one in that capacity "without father and without mother."