Hebrews 7 - Melchizedek, high priest
Hello again and good morning to you my friend and brother. If you have time to respond to this okay if not okay to. I ran across a referrence to Mr. Mel while reading Psalms this morning and was wondering if you have any insights into who he might be. I've run across his name a few times but no one that I know seems to know anything about him. I ran a search on the HeartLight search engine and came up with this: "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." Mysterious fellow this Melchizedek! Any ideas? Thanks :D ArtThanks :D Art
What of the mysterious character, Melchizedek?
I suspect the memory of Melchizedek was purposely designed to remain in the mists of mystery. It is his mysterious entrance and exit in connection with receiving a tenth from Abraham's spoils of war upon which the writer to the Hebrews made his demands. The fact that Abraham's brief encounter with Melchizedek was forever embedded into Israel's history made the connection to Christ inescapable. There, but not there ... as if they had been visited by a ghost or a premonition or a foreshadowing of someone else who would be just as connected with their history, but at the same time outside it.
In fact, such things are not uncommon in the recorded history of the Jews through the prophets God sent. Just consider the many encounters between Jesus and the religious leaders where he commented on certain scriptures that had baffled their scholars for centuries, and became the very thing that shut down their silly little legalistic arguments. The more I have examined the encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadduccees and scribes and lawyers I have noticed that the oddest scriptures seem to have gotten under their skins. I can only imagine the kibitzing that must have taken place for long centuries as one rabbi had come up with one more way to explain away all these "problem passages" in their scriptures. And then Jesus comes along and starts opening one can of worms after another by simply reminding them that they had in fact been arguing against the salvation of God for centuries.
This difficulty with God's mystery of Christ is just as relevant in most "Christian" churches today. For the arguing never ceases, even though the simplicity of Christ remains as a rock in its shoe, always making it impossible for the establishment to actually find any confidence in its own logic. Life can be so irritating, eh?
It is not at all surprising that lots of speculation would be built up around the mysterious character of Melchizedek. I mean let's face it, the Jews wouldn't have been able to resist coming up with some identifiable character, like Shem, the son of Noah, by which they might explain something outside their own perceptions. Of course, in doing so, they removed the mystery of one who was inserted into their history as being:
Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. Hebrews 7:3
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews wouldn't have been saying anything about Melchizedek other than what had already been observed by many of their own rabbis and teachers for centuries (even though it may have been disputed by many others).
Regarding any ancient writings (as in the Amarna tablets) about one claiming to be Melchizedek's successor, with the same attributes attributed to Melchizedek in the letter to the Hebrews, I would be very surprised had not only Ebed-Tob, king of Jerusalem claimed it, but others as well. It is, after all, a well-used tradition in establishing many kings that claims have been made to mystify his authority by claiming him to be the foretold leader, even the incarnation of the ancient hero. The simplicity of Melchizedek's insertion into the history of the Jews was that he had not spoken of himself, nor did the one whose priesthood was truly after the order of Melchizedek.
Funny thing, we're always trying to make the point of how Jesus claimed this and Jesus claimed that, when in fact he simply WAS what and who he was, so that others kept pushing the point to make him speak on his own behalf. His claims were not about himself but about the one he knew, the father, who was the one who sent him. Whereas others have sought to use every advantage in order to create enough PR to give validation to their claims of authority, Jesus consistently shied away from it making authoritative statements only when confronted by those who claimed the authority of Moses upon themselves.