Who Was Melchizedek?

Community in Mission | 1/23/2019 | Msgr. Charles Pope
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Who Was Melchizedek?

Wednesday’s first reading spoke of the mysterious Melchizedek:

Melchizedek - King - Salem - God - Most

This Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and blessed him. And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything.

His name first means righteous king, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. See how great he is to whom the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils (Heb 7:1-4).

Melchizedek - Abraham - Tithes

Who was Melchizedek? Abraham paid tithes to him—something that rightly belongs to God—so he must have been pretty important!

From a worldly point of view, Melchizedek was the king of Salem (later called Jerusalem). Not only was he a king, but he was a priest who worshiped “The Most High God” (EL-ELYON). Although some claim that this likely was a Canaanite God, at this point early in revelation the later textual distinctions and names for God were not yet as clear.


The Scriptures say this of the mysterious priest-king:

Psalm 110 indicates that when the Messiah comes, he will have a priesthood derived from Melchizedek’s (not from the Levitical priesthood): You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4b).

Melchizedek - Foreshadowing - Jesus - Note - Melchizedek

Hebrews 7, as quoted above, sees Melchizedek as a foreshadowing of Jesus. Note that Melchizedek is described as without ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life.

Was Melchizedek in fact a vision of Christ pre-incarnate? He was said to be without earthly father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life. This could only be the Lord! (That would help to explain Abraham’s unusual behavior of paying a tithe to him.) Yet this is probably...
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