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Melchizedek The Priest  (ch. 7:1-10)


Before we carry on we need to say a little bit about Melchizedek, since his name has been mentioned and is now mentioned again.  The name Melchizedek means "King of righteousness."   A secondary meaning is "King of Salem or peace."  Salem means "peace."   Melchizedek was the King and Priest of Salem.  Salem was a city in Canaan .  It later became Jerusalem .  So, by this you can see the special significance concerning Melchizedek and Jerusalem , as well as Jesus. 


The story of Abraham meeting up with Melchizedek is found in Genesis 14:18 to 20.  There is not much mentioned in these two verses but what is mentioned is repeated here in Hebrews 7.  The only other place in the Old Testament when Melchizedek is mentioned is in Psalms 110:4 which the author also mentions in this chapter.  


Both here and in the Genesis account Melchizedek is seen as a king of the Most High God.  Remember, this is long before the Law of Moses came into existence and long before there was a nation of Israel .  It is clear that this king was a worshipper of the God of the Bible who is often called the Most High.  The terms "Most High" seems to be in reference to God Almighty being over all other perceived gods.           


Verses 1 and 2 tell us that one time after winning a battle; Abraham came to Salem and met up with Melchizedek. When they met, Abraham gave him one tenth of everything, which many understand to be, everything he had won in the battle, not everything that Abraham owned. 


Both Abraham and Melchizedek worshiped the one true God at that time, resulting in Abraham being blessed by Melchizedek, as we see in verse 2.  The Genesis account states that part of this blessing was the sharing of bread and wine with each other.  As early as Genesis 14 we begin to see the significance of bread and wine.   


As stated above, verse 2 tells us that the name "Melchizedek" means, "King of Righteousness", or "King of Salam or Peace." 


In verse 3 it says that Melchizedek had no beginning and no end of days, no genealogy, but was like the Son of God.  This is hard for us to understand.  Did he actually have no birth or no death, or is there simply no mention of him being born or dying?  Some people believe this to be true.  That is in fact, Melchizedek was eternal, but, this does not seem to fit into Christian Biblical theology.  Many Bible teachers simply point out that there is no mention of this king's birth or death in the Genesis account.  That does not mean he was never born or never died.  Many Bible teachers believe, which seems the best understanding for me to date, that what is being taught here is rabbinical theology about Melchizedek that the Jewish people to whom the author was writing to would have understood.  That is to say, the author us using their theological background to make his point, which will be, that Jesus is greater than Melchizedek, one this Jews would have greatly respected.                 


Verse 4 says that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham.  Why?  It is because Abraham gave him one tenth of the spoils of war.  Also Melchizedek blessed Abraham.  So this tells you that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, and Abraham was one of the most well respected men in Jewish history.   


Verse 5 speaks of the Old Testament Law of Moses when it mentions "the law."  It says that the Levites, or sons of Levi, were to be priests.   It also says that these priests would collect a tenth, or a tithe, from the people of Israel .  The author brings ups the subject of the priests and the tithe because like Melchizedek, they are priests who receive a tithe.   


There is one thing to note concerning tithing.  The subject is basically an Old Testament subject and is not mentioned much in the New Testament, only in Hebrews and when it is talked about, it is in reference to Old Testament teaching.  I will not discuss this here because I've done it elsewhere, but I strongly believe that tithing is not New Testament teaching.  The Law of Moses has been laid aside, and that includes the tithing laws.  I'll just say one thing about this text.  Some suggest that because tithing existed before the Law of Moses, as seen here with Abraham, it still exists after the Law, that is, today.  There's no logic in this thinking.  Many other things existed prior to the Law that were incorporated into the Law, like animal sacrifices.  We don't kill animals to sacrifice today, and we don't tithe either.  Jesus is the end of the Law as Paul states in Romans 10:4.  This does not mean Christians should not give.  Christians are to give cheerfully, abundantly, and according to their ability to give.  They should also give intelligently.


Verse 6 points out that Melchizedek was not a priest in the Levitical order, and neither could be, because there was no such order back then. 


Note that verse 6 seems to suggest that somehow Melchizedek was aware of the promises God spoke to Abraham.  How he knew this is uncertain.  Maybe Abraham talked to him about it or maybe it was a revelation from God, but, it was for this reason that Melchizedek blessed Abraham.  He knew that Abraham was a special man blessed by God.  That being said, according to the author in verse 7, Abraham was the lesser of the two men.        


Verses 9 and 10 clearly seem to be rabbinical teaching.  The rabbis believed what this verse says.  That is to say, in one sense of the word the Levitical priests actually tithe to Melchizedek.  The reasoning goes like this.  The Levites were descendents of Abraham.  When Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek, all of Abraham's descendents were in the loins of Abraham.  So, in a round about way, the Levites paid a tithe to Melchizedek.  This puts Melchizedek in a higher place of authority than the Levites who were priests.       

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