by James M. Ates
In explaining our Great High Priest, we must of necessity go back at least to Melchizedek. There were many who offered burnt offerings to God; even those like Job who offered on behalf of others (i.e. family members etc.). Yet there are two reasons why we are compelled to examine Melchizedek. First is the fact of the law of first mention. Melchizedek is the first intercessory
priest mentioned in the scripture.
Secondly, and of supreme importance is that Jesus our Great High Priest is a Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6).
I realize there are many varied opinions concerning this figure who suddenly appears and quickly disappears from the scriptures. Some have identified him as Shem or some other human figure, others as a theophany. “Theophany is a theological term used to refer to either a visible or auditory manifestation of God.”
Let’s look at some things I feel worthy of our consideration. As stated by David Stern, a Messianic Jew, “Malkitzedek (Malchizedek: the Hebrew name means (‘my king is righteousness’) appears first in Genesis 14:18.”
The writer of Hebrews interpreted his name as “King of Righteousness” (Hebrews 7:2). Genesis 14:18 tells us that Melchizedek was King of Salem. “Salem almost certainly refers to Jerusalem. The geography of the campaign in Genesis 14 allows it. The similarity of `Adonizedek’, king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:1) supports it. Comparison with David, King of Jerusalem (Psalm 110:4) cements the connection with Jerusalem.”
Josephus speaks of Melchizedek as a figure of history who first built Jerusalem, which was
formerly called Salem. He said that Melchizedek was the first priest of God, and built a temple there. Josephus also spoke of Melchizedek as a man of history when relating the story of Genesis 14
“Salem. Called, on the bricks of the ruins of an ancient city in S. Palestine, Uru-Salem = the city of Salem. The tablets show that Palestine was at this time in the possession of Egypt, and the Tablets are letters to the Pharaohs Amenophis III and IV. One is from Ebed-Tob, the successor of Malchizedek. Three times he says ‘not my father, not my mother installed me in this place but the mighty King’… i.e. he did not inherit by succession, but by the gift and `the arm of the Mighty King (the deity)’.”
So we have Melchizedek whose name means “king of righteousness” ruling as King of Salem (which means peace). Now, Genesis 14:18 tells us that this king of Salem (Jerusalem) was priest of the Most High God [El-Elyon — God Most High]. In Genesis 14:18-20, Melchizedek King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, presented bread and wine, and blessed Abraham saying, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand.” Melchizedek then received tithes of Abram.