Archive for April, 2015

Melchizedek, the mystical figure

April 8, 2015

Melchizedek is a king and priest who lived in the time of Abraham. There’s only one reference to him in the bible, or better to say in the Torah: Gen 14:18-20. Psalm 110 afterwards refered to it, with great additional meaning. And last the writer of the letter to the Hebrews has a great deal on it.

Several Jewish traditions bring him as a mystical figure. Nowadays the most common Jewish view is that he is a descendant of Sem. (b. Ned. 32b, Num. rab. 4.8, Pirqe R. El. 27:34) But this probably is a polymic against the Christian meaning. Based on the letter to the Hebrews, the Christian meaning is that Melchizedek is a mystical figure. This fits with a Jewish tradition given in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 11QMelch 2.6, where he becomes a superhuman figure who executes divine judgement. Others also spoke about the special status of priest-king, like: Philo, Migr.235, Leg. all. 3.79-82, Josephus, Ant. 1.177-82.malki-tzed-mash

What can we say from Melchizedek? In scripture we have Genesis 14, Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7. Given the authority of the writer of Hebrews, we can read through the glasses of Hebrews and see psalm 110 and Genesis 14. Such a view gives clearly a mystical Melchizedek.

“Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God” (He.7:3) And most important is the superiority of “the order of Melchizedek”, explicitly given by psalm 110: “The LORD says to my [David’s] Lord: … You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The writer of Hebrews compares not only Jesus to Melchizedek, but actually states that Melchizedek is “priest forever”, (He.7:3) and Jesus is “priest forever.” (He.7:21/Ps.110) Given that we can deduce that those two are the same.

It is not the only place in the Tenach that the eternal Son of God, the Messiah and highest Priest, appears to mankind before the birth of Christ. Several instances points us to The Angel of God, where this can be understood as the Son of God. But, as far as I know, it always are angels, not human beings. Here however, it is highly doubtable that Melchizedek is an angel. Because he is a priest. Besides that we don’t read about angels as being a real king with a real name.

Was Melchizedek an early incarnation of the Son of God? Or an angel though? Such questions can remain. I don’t know. For sure there are many things we don’t understand. For me this is one of them.

It is quite clear however, that the idea of the writer of Hebrews is not restricted to the situation that the Son of God exists only afterwards His birth from Maria. Melchizedek “resembled the Son of God”. (He.7:3)

We often think that we can see the Lord Jesus. But He is far more than what we can grasp! His name is also called Wonderful/Miraculous. (Is.9:5) Do we understand?