Christian Churches of God

No. 128






(Edition 2.0 19950729-19980907-20110618)


The identification of the entity known as Melchisedek has always been a problem for many Bible students. This paper looks at the rabbinical traditions as well as showing the probable identity and reasons behind the activities of this figure. The significance of the Melchisedek priesthood can be better understood from this paper.



Christian Churches of God

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 (Copyright © 1995, 1998, 2011 Wade Cox)


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The identity of the being known as Melchisedek has been the subject of speculation over the years. Some have postulated a Messianic identity for Melchisedek; others have identified him with the patriarchs. To isolate his probable identity we have to examine the relevant texts and the historical framework within which he lived. The logical impact on the uniqueness of the Messianic incarnation is also a factor that has to be considered if, for example, one is to propose a Messianic identity. In other words, if one is to contend that Melchisedek was Jesus Christ, it must be weighed against the relevant texts and the consequence for human salvation of such a dual advent. This period was also still within the life span of the post-flood patriarchs. There is, no doubt, some significance to be derived from that consideration.


The post-flood epoch saw the world as one speech and under one priesthood. The Judaic view was that this priesthood was centred on Salem under Melchisedek. The identity of Melchisedek has been an enigma. Melchisedek, according to the Midrash, was identified with Shem (Rashi: see Soncino).

He was thus called because he was king (melech) over a place famed for its righteousness (tsedek) [according to Abraham ibn Ezra] N[achmanides] similarly: He ruled over the place where one day would be built the Temple wherein dwelt the Divine Presence which is called tsedek. The Midrash applies the term to Jerusalem as a whole, as it is written, Righteousness lodged in her (Isa. 1:21) (Soncino commentary to Genesis 14:18).


Melchisedek was priest of the Most High God. Nachmanides holds that it was:

Only because Abraham knew that this was so did he give him a tithe. Most High means above all other gods (N) (Soncino).

Rashi holds that the bread and wine given by Melchisedek to Abraham were refreshments for the battle weary and the liberated prisoners. He thereby showed that he bore Abraham no resentment for having slain his offspring (viz. Cherdorlaomer, etc.) (see Soncino). This aspect is important regardless of the lineage of those involved. It is more important given direct lineal descent of the victims. The significance of the bread and wine being given to Abraham related directly to the significance of the Bread and Wine that would be integral to the Bread and Wine established by Messiah at the Lord’s Supper. This event looked forward to the symbolism of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as it was administered under the new priesthood of the order of Melchisedek, as introduced by Messiah.


The fact that Melchisedek foreshadowed this event does not demand that he be Messiah. Indeed, if he were, there are all sorts of problems in the concept of the sinless sacrifice of Messiah. Was he born? Was he a man? If so, was he born of a virgin then? He was certainly not of the line of David. If he were an angel, what does that imply for the rulership of Salem at that stage? What was the priesthood there? Why is an angelic priesthood not recorded elsewhere? What use has an angel for the tithes of war? If he did not die, what then can we say of the works of John and the doctrine of Antichrist? The logical problems introduced by such a Messianic aspect of Melchisedek are enormous.


The subject of Melchisedek is often not understood, simply because the sequence and significance of the story is not understood. The Church of God, over two thousand years, has not held a unanimous view on the subject, and the opinions concerning the matter have not been seen as a doctrinal point, or pivotal to salvation. Certainly, until the most intolerant stages of the Church in this century, the matter has not been seen as warranting doctrinal conformity. It will help to examine the history of the build up to the story.

Genesis 11:1-32 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (KJV)

Here we see the scattering of the people because of the system that was being established at Babel, under the government established by Nimrod there and at Accad, Erech and Calneh. From there he built Nineveh, Rehoboth and Calah (Gen. 10:10-11). The priest of God, however, was Shem, being the son of Noah. Noah lived 350 years after the flood (Gen. 9:28) and he died at 950 years of age (Gen. 9:29). Shem was central to the post-flood re-establishment.


10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: 11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: 17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: 25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran. (KJV)

There are a number of points of significance that arise from the text in Genesis 11. The first relates to the age of Shem and the others. From the texts we can establish the dates after the flood of their births and deaths. The years are of enormous duration. These epochs are not accepted as being literal periods in modern times. Indeed to suggest that these time frames are real is to invite derision. However, a literalist cannot have it both ways. If the Bible is literally true and Melchisedek existed then the time frames are also true and Shem is a candidate. The stories of the nations surrounding Canaan in the Middle East should also reflect the stories concerning the establishment of the cities. The characters might also be reflected in the stories of the nations, perhaps by other names. It must be remembered that names had meaning and the names given to the patriarchs were not necessarily the same as those by which they were known in other lands. For example, Noah was known in the Epic of Gilgamesh as Uta-Napishtim (he was termed the far-away) (see Budge, Babylonian Life and History, 2nd edn., London, 1925, pp. 92ff.).


There is much conjecture that the Egyptian myths concern the story of Shem in his capacity as destroyer of the Egyptian apostate systems. This whole aspect is too complicated for this work and must be dealt with elsewhere. The Egyptian myth that may reflect on Shem is the story of Typhon, brother to Osiris, who had ordered the government of Egypt and attempted to establish the Egyptian model on the rest of the world. Typhon is portrayed as an evil usurper who organised a conspiracy of seventy-two members. With these he confined Osiris to the chest by deception and flung him in the Nile. The significance here is that the number seventy-two relates to the Governing Council of God.


The Sanhedrin was a council of seventy; however, there was always a minimum of seventy-one in total and later plus the Nasi. Messiah sent out the seventy after appointing them (Lk. 10:1). They returned with joy saying, even the demons are subject to us (Lk. 10:17). Authority was transferred here to the Church. In both cases, the number in the text is listed in Marshall’s Interlinear from Nestles text as hebdomekonta [duo] or seventy [two]. Thus, the seventy were understood to be accompanied by two, making seventy-two. This is in fact the Council of the Elohim. Thus, the myth of Osiris and Isis places Typhon as the head of this Council but evil as anti-Egypt (see Bullfinch’s Mythology, Avenel Books, New York, 1979, pp. 293ff.). Thus Typhon could be said to hold the place of the Priest of the Most High God at the head of the Council. He would also equate to Melchisedek. Shem is often seen in this aspect. However, the bull Apis is also associated with Osiris, being held to be the repository of the soul of Osiris, and to transfer itself to each successor Apis. Thus the legend is tied to the bull-slaying myths and hence, the mystery cults. Both Shem as the successor to Noah and the new earth, and also Messiah, have relevance to these stories. Thus Melchisedek might be seen as having application to both Shem and Messiah. Judaism would see him as Shem because of literal considerations. The Essene might, and indeed did, allegorise him as Messiah and Michael.


Shem lived after the flood for 502 years and his life has implications for the rulership of the nations. We can construct a table as follows:



Age at birth of son


Died in post-flood year




Flood + 502



F. +    2

F. + 440



F. +   37

F. + 470



F. +   67

F. + 531



F. + 101

F. + 340



F. + 131

F. + 370



F. + 163

F. + 393



F. + 193

F. + 341



F. + 222

F. + 427





F. +  ?

F. +  ?

F. + 352

Before F. + 296.



The dispersion of the nations occurred when Abraham was 48 years old, at the death of Peleg, 340 years after the flood (Seder Olam Rabbah, Ch. 1).


Abram (Abraham) left Haran after the death of Terah in F. + 427 (1921 BCE per MT). He was seventy-five years old (Gen. 12:4). We are certain that the patriarchs alive at the death of Terah and the occupation of Canaan by Abram were Shem, Arpachsad, Shalach and Eber. Shem was the senior. From Genesis 9:26, Yahovah (or Jehovah) is stated as the God of Shem, and Japeth is to live in his tents. Shem is here blessed although Japeth is the elder (Gen. 10:22). Shem is therefore priest of the Most High God at the time of Abraham. The distribution of the others is unknown, but Shem had Arpachsad and Elam and Asshur (who were to emerge as the Assyrians). The ancient kingdom of Elam, when joined with the others, formed the base of the Babylonian empire.


The movement of the tribes indicates that the distribution of the nations in cities and areas limits the possibilities of the priesthood of the Most High God at Salem to being that of Shem, or Arpachsad, given the known settlements of the other sons. Arpachsad died in F. + 440 (1908 BCE per MT) so it is likely that the patriarch still alive and senior is the one referred to as or My King is Righteousness, although Shalach or Eber are still possibilities. Shem is called the father of all the sons of Eber (Gen. 10:21). Thus it is possible that the term Hebrew extends beyond the Israelites to other related peoples. This is a study in its own right.


The blessing of Abraham by Melchisedek in Genesis 14:20 is said (by Rashi) to have been first a blessing of Abraham for having given battle, and then God for having helped him. The fact that Abraham gave a tenth of all thereby indicated that his descendants would give tithes to the priests (according to Nachmanides). The tithe was intended as a thank offering to God, and the only priest fit to receive it was Melchisedek. The traditional Judaic interpretation, therefore, was that Melchisedek was Shem and that the priesthood post-flood was also centred at Jerusalem.


Melchisedek as Messiah

The assertion that Messiah was Melchisedek derives in part from a misapprehension of the texts relating to genealogy. There was a view extant at the time of Christ within some Judaic sects, as we know from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Melchisedek was Messiah. The view was also coupled with the concept that Messiah was the Archangel Michael. The view that Melchisedek was Messiah seems to be based upon the fact that Messiah should have come to perform two functions. This can be deduced from a number of prophecies, but also primarily on the function of the high priest on the day of Atonement, when there was a duality of garments, representing a priestly and atoning function from the linen garments, and the changing of the high priest into the royal vestments at the end, indicating also the king Messiah. Thus the first advent was as priest and the second was as king Messiah. Judea was under the Roman yoke and they wanted a liberator. Thus, perhaps some saw in Melchisedek the function of priest. Messiah was prophesied to be a priest after the order of Melchisedek from Psalm 110:4.

Psalm 110:1-7  A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. 6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. (KJV)


From verse 1 of the psalm, we know that it is Messiah being mentioned. The appointment here is as a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. It is not stated that Messiah was Melchisedek.


From the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) (Damascus Rule VII esp. also the fragment from cave IV) we know that Messiah was of two advents; the Messiah of Aaron (or priest Messiah) and the Messiah of Israel (or king Messiah). The DSS community understood that they were the one Messiah (see Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p. 49 for discussion of the texts).


The DSS yielded a series of thirteen fragments from cave XI on Melchisedek. They were published in 1965 by A.S. van der Woude. The text is in the form of an eschatological midrash in which the proclamation of liberty to the captives at the end of days (Isa. 61:1):

… is understood as being part of the general restoration of property during the year of Jubilee [Lev. 25:13], seen in the Bible [Deut. 15:2] as a remission of debts. The heavenly deliverer is Melkizedek. Identical with the archangel Michael, he is the head of the ‘sons of Heaven’ or ‘gods of Justice’ and is referred to as elohim and el. These Hebrew words normally mean ‘God’, but in certain specific contexts Jewish tradition also explains elohim as primarily designating a ‘judge’. Here, Melkizedek is portrayed as presiding over the final Judgement and condemnation of his demonic counterpart, Belial/Satan, the Prince of Darkness, elsewhere also called Melkiresha’ [see also Vermes, ibid., pp. 253,260]. The great act of deliverance is expected to occur on the day of Atonement at the end of the tenth Jubilee cycle. This manuscript sheds valuable light not only on the Melkizedek figure of the Epistle to the Hebrews vii, but also on the development of the Messianic concept in the New Testament and early Christianity. (On messianism see G. Vermes, Jesus the Jew, London, 1973, pp. 129-59, 250-56)... And concerning that which He said, In [this] year of Jubilee [each of you shall return to his property [Lev. 25:13]; and likewise, And this is the manner of release:] every creditor shall release that which he has lent [to his neighbour and his brother], for God’s release [has been proclaimed] [Deut. 15:2]. [And it will be proclaimed at] the end of days concerning the captives as [He said, To proclaim liberty to the captives [Isa. 61:1]. Its interpretation is that He] will assign them to the Sons of Heaven and to the inheritance of Melkizedek; f[or He will cast] their [lot] amid the po[rtions of Melkize]dek, who will return them there and will proclaim to them liberty, forgiving them [the wrongdoings] of all their iniquities (Vermes, ibid., p. 266).

It is thus seen that Melchisedek was held to have been the Archangel Michael and that he was the Messianic figure to whom judgment was committed to him. This is based upon the text in Zechariah 3:1-10, which shows also the opposition to Satan in this process. The figure also was understood, from this, to be the Elohim who judges the holy ones of God, as is written in the Psalms where it is said that:

ELOHIM has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment [Ps. 82:1]. And it was concerning him that he said, (Let the assembly of the peoples) return to the heights above them; EL (god) will judge the peoples [Ps. 7:7-8]. As for that which he s[aid, How long will you] judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah [Ps. 82:2], its interpretation concerns Satan and the spirits of his lot [who] rebelled by turning away from the precepts of God to...And Melkizedek will avenge the vengeance of the judgments of God...and he will drag [them from the hand of] Satan and from the hand of all the sp[irits of] his [lot]. And all the ‘gods [of Justice’] will come to his aid [to] attend to the de[struction] of Satan....(from Vermes, p. 267).


Isaiah 52:7 uses elohim in context of the Messianic advent to Zion (see Heb. 12:22-23).


It is seen from the text from Vermes that there was no doubt that the texts referred to were Messianic. There was also no doubt that Satan was given a role of power in judgment. The term his lot is used to show the allocation of the duties of the celestial powers, in accordance with the process found in the Temple, of allocating responsibility and periods of duty by lot. The council of the gods are thus seen as the elect and the loyal Host who have been given power. The allocation of Melchisedek as Messiah was thus seen as being a strongly held conviction among the Dead Sea Community at the time of Christ, and the association found its way into the Book of Hebrews. The similarity in the Book of Hebrews, however, is derived from the text at Hebrews 7:6-8.

Hebrews 7:6-8 But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 Here tithes are received by mortal men; there, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. (RSV)


The text shows that this figure was referred to as a man who did not have their genealogy. It is not asserted that he had no genealogy.


The distinction is made in this text, however, that the tithes were received by mortal men. There it is asserted that they were received by one of whom it is testified that he lives. This is the basis of the relating of the text to Messiah. However, Hebrews 7:11 says specifically that Messiah arose as another priest.


The concept of living can stem from the Holy Spirit giving life to the patriarchs, as it did to the household of David. Thus the text in Hebrews 7:8 might refer to the allocation of the Spirit to Melchisedek as one of the elect. It is not essential that this text refers to Messiah.

Hebrews 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit'ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz'edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? (RSV)


Thus the change of the priesthood related also to a change in the law. Hence, Melchisedek was of an order which was re-instituted in Messiah and the elect.


The priesthood of Melchisedek is part of a promise of God.

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek. (RSV)

Messiah here became a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. He is not identified as that priest. He is a High Priest forever after the order. Thus Melchisedek established an order. Jesus went as a forerunner on our behalf. In other words, we also are to become priests of that order.


Hebrews 7 shows the relationship of Melchisedek to the priesthood.

Hebrews 7:1-28 For this Melchiz'edek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. (RSV)


The text holds that Melchisedek means both king of righteousness and king of Salem, or peace. The understanding of the Hebrew according to both Milik and Vermes is that Melchisedek means My King is Justice (or Righteousness) and he is king of the Army of light. Satan’s name is Melkiresha’ meaning My King is Wickedness (see J.T. Milik, Journal of Jewish Studies, 1972, pp. 126-135 and also Vermes, op. cit., pp. 252-253). There is no doubt that we are dealing with the Satan/Messiah battles of the last days in the view of the DSS.

3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever.

He is held to be without father and without mother and without pedigree (apatoor, ametoor, agenealogetos). He has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. The Messianic view of this text seems to be based on the assumption that he had no genealogy and that he was eternal. Thus he was Messiah. The text says that he resembled the Son of God. It does not say that he was the Son of God. The word is aphomoioo: to assimilate closely, or make like. Thus he was made like the Son of God. The intent is equally as valid that this entity, being one of the patriarchs, was conformed to the image of the Son of God, as were all the elect, in the spirit, and made a priest of the type that would replace the Aaronic even before the Aaronic was appointed. The text reads that he remains a priest in the perpetuity (see Marshall’s Interlinear). The term continues a priest forever is construed to entail continued life. That is not the case other than in the same sense as the elect are termed as falling asleep.


The meaning of these texts is discussed below, in relation to the law governing the priesthood.

4 See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils. 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. (RSV)

The text also says that this man not counting his pedigree from them (see Marshall’s Interlinear) received tithes from Abraham. It does not say that he did not have a pedigree.


 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 Here tithes are received by mortal men; there, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. (RSV)

This text is the key text for the assertion that Melchisedek is not human. The same assertion is made of the elect. They do not die, they fall asleep (1Cor. 15:6,18).


9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchiz'edek met him. (RSV)

The payment of tithes in the priesthood was to show that the laws of God continued, and was not dependent upon Moses and the Levitical priesthood.


11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit'ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz'edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? (RSV)

Here Messiah is clearly noted as another priest after the order of Melchisedek. There is no intimation here that Melchisedek is the same being. Were such to be the case then there is little doubt that the writer of Hebrews would have stressed the point. What he was trying to do was to emphasise the relationship of Messiah to Melchisedek, because it is shown to be the case that the expectation of the first century Judaic sects expected Michael as both Messiah and Melchisedek. Hebrews had to tie the relationship in to show that prophecy had been fulfilled in Messiah, as being after the order of Melchisedek, and the forerunner of the priesthood of the elect in that order. The order was without pedigree because the elect were to be selected from all tribes of Israel and then from the Gentiles, who were themselves added to the tribes as priests. Thus the entire lineage of the elect was without mother, or father, or genealogy in the priesthood. The selection criteria was not dependent upon such matters.


 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (RSV)

The extension of the priesthood beyond Levi is specifically mentioned from this text. The text goes on to mention the likeness of Messiah to Melchisedek.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchiz'edek, 16 who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek." 18 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (RSV)

The intention of the elimination of pedigree as the purpose of the text is made explicit here. The priesthood is conferred not by bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life (see Rom. 1:4). Thus the Holy Spirit conferred the power on Melchisedek as it did on Abraham and all the patriarchs, as well as David, the Judges and the Prophets, continuing to the apostles and the elect. The importance of the text is not in the fact that Melchisedek might have been Messiah but, rather, it is more important if he was not.


20 And it was not without an oath. 21 Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, `Thou art a priest for ever.'" 22 This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. (RSV)

It is the testimony of God that the elect took office. Messiah was given office by the promise of God by oath.


The Levitical priesthood were prevented by death from continuing in office. They will partake of the second resurrection. The order of Melchisedek will partake of the first resurrection. Those of the elect have a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35).

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. (RSV)


The continuation forever stems through death to the resurrection. The priesthood is not removed from the elect, as it was not removed from Messiah and the patriarchs.

25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever. (RSV)

Thus Messiah was the culmination in this new order of priesthood which extended to those who were chosen by God, who appointed Messiah and made him perfect forever.


We have seen that some Judaic sects identified Messiah as Michael (from Dan. 12:1). The assumptions are based on the fact that Michael stands for the people of Israel, and the Nation Israel was given to Yahovah by the Most High when He divided the nations according to the sons of God (cf. Deut. 32:8 RSV, the LXX and the DSS). Melchisedek has the meaning My King is Righteousness or My King is Justice (justice and righteousness being synonymous) (Vermes, Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p. 253). It was also assumed that Melchizedek was a name for the leader of the Army of Light, which we have seen is a function of Messiah (Vermes, p. 260).


Those assumptions are made from the damaged Testament of Amram. That would be consistent with the Melchizedek-Messiah nexus among the Essene. However, were Melchizedek to be Messiah then there is a serious problem with the incarnation and the sacrifice. We will now take up the relationship of the law to the priesthood.


The title appears to have been the hereditary title of the king of Jerusalem (or Urusalaim). Hundreds of years after Abraham we meet another king bearing the similar title Lord of Righteousness or My Lord is Righteousness, during the occupation of Canaan by Israel under Joshua. Here in Joshua 10:1 we meet Adonizedek, which is another variation of Melchisedek, ruling in Jerusalem. The title, in its variant forms, is thus hereditary and vests in Messiah by virtue of his rulership from Jerusalem, and was perhaps viewed in this way by David also. In this way also the elect are priests from the order of Melchisedek, because they rule with him from Jerusalem as elohim (cf. Zech. 12:8; Rev. 7:1-17).


The Christian assumption that Melchizedek is Messiah rests on a misunderstanding of the texts in Hebrews 7:3. The terms without father, mother and genealogy (apator etc.) refer to the requirement to have recorded Aaronic lineage (Neh. 7:64) for the Levitical priesthood.


The term beginning of days and end of life refers to the requirement to commence duties at thirty years of age and cease at fifty years (Num. 4:47). The High Priest succeeded on the day of his predecessor’s death. Melchizedek has no such requirement. Hebrews records in the Marshall’s Interlinear translation that he was a man (Heb. 7:4). He was made like the Son of God (Heb. 7:3) yet he was not the Son of God, who was another priest (Heb. 7:11). Thus all the elect can participate in the priesthood, being made like unto the Son of God, regardless of lineage and age, continuing in perpetuity. As to who Melchisedek was we can only surmise. The Essene construed the text messianically as have some modern fundamentalists. The element of the Paulicians who also held this view were termed Melchisedekians, but they made him distinct from Messiah as the heavenly mediator (see the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). Hebrews appears to have been written so as to correct this error but has itself been misconstrued. The Midrash holds that he was Shem (Rashi) being king (melek) over a righteous place (tsedek) (Abraham ibn Ezra & Nachmanides). This place was where the temple would be built for the Divine Presence, which the Midrash applies to Jerusalem as a whole from the text Righteousness lodged in her (Isa. 1:21) (ibn Ezra & Nachmanides, see Soncino, fn. Gen 14:18).


More importantly, the concept of a Council of Elohim was absolute and is undeniable as being the properly understood meaning of the Old Testament texts involving the elohim. The subordinate structure of the Elohim is understood on one hand, but misunderstood in relation to Michael and Melchizedek.


Revelation 4 & 5 show that this group numbered thirty entities including the four cherubim. Thus thirty pieces of silver were required for the betrayal of Christ (Mat. 27:3,9 cf. Zech. 11:12-13) as it was an offence against the entire Godhead. The Elders are charged with monitoring the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8) and Christ is their High Priest. He was the member of the Elders who was found worthy to open the scroll of the plan of God having ransomed men and made them a kingdom and priests to our God – i.e. the God of the Council and of Christ (Rev. 5:9-10).


The ransom of men is part of an end time restoration, which occurs on the second coming of Messiah as King of Israel; his first coming being understood as the Messiah of Aaron. This first Messianic advent was the atonement for sin and the establishment of the Melchisedek priesthood. The end-time restoration was understood to be an extension of the elohim as portrayed in Zechariah 12:8. In the restoration of the last days, when Messiah shall come to Zion as was understood from Hebrews 12:22-23, the sequence of the advent involved the defence of Jerusalem and the strengthening of the physical inhabitants of the city for the Millennial reign. Yet note Zechariah goes on to state:

And he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the House of David shall be as God (elohim), as the Angel of Jehovah before them (emphasis added).

The significance here was that Zechariah was given to understand that the Angel of YHVH was an elohim, and that the household of David (who was long dead) was to consist of those who would themselves be elohim, as part of David's household.


Zechariah wrote at the end of the Bible period, as one of the last books to be written (allegedly c. 410-403 BC, App. 77 of Companion Bible refers). The understanding of the sequence thus was not altered over the duration of the compilation of the text.


The conclusion that Messiah is Melchisedek is not a generally held view of the Church of God over two thousand years. It has been held by some groups and some Judaic sects. It appears that Messiah was not Melchisedek, but that the advancement of eternal life to Melchisedek through his office in the Holy Spirit has been misunderstood. The fact of the matter is not essential to the faith, nor is it a point of doctrine that is essential to fellowship. The allocation of the role to Messiah probably weakens the argument of the extension of the priesthood to the elect as elohim rather than strengthening the matter. The contention certainly rests on a narrow construction of one verse.