Who is Melchizedek? What is the meaning of what is said in the psalm “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4). What is the order of Melchizedek?
The first time that the name Melchizedek was mentioned in the Bible was when he received our father Abraham on his way back from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him (Gen. 14:17-20). On this occasion it was said about Melchizedek that:
1. He was king of Salem (probably Jerusalem).
2. He was the priest of the most high God and that he brought out bread and wine.
3. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him his tithes.
St. Paul acknowledged Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.
For the inferior is blessed by the superior (Heb. 7:7), and that Abraham gave him tithes. Accordingly, the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than that of Aaron (who is the posterity of Abraham).
The priesthood of Christ and of Christianity is according to the order of Melchizedek for the following points:
1. It is priesthood that offers bread and wine and not animal sacrifices. For the animal (or the bloody) sacrifices, were according to the order of Aaron’s priesthood. It symbolised the sacrifice of Christ, and was abolished by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Christ instituted for us the sacrament of Eucharist (Body and Blood) by bread and wine according to the order of Melchizedek.
2. It is a priesthood that is not inherited. Christ was from the tribe of Judah (according to the flesh), and He was not from the tribe of Levi from whom was the Aaronic priesthood. Christ did not inherit the priesthood, neither did all the apostles of Christ. All the priests in the New Testament do not inherit their priesthood.
3. The priesthood of Melchizedek is higher than the Aaronic priesthood. St. Paul explained this point in (Heb. 7).
It was said about Melchizedek that he was in the likeness of the Son of God.
This is true from the points that have been mentioned. St. Paul says also about him ” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” (Heb. 7:3).
We should not take these words literally, otherwise Melchizedek would be God.
Even literally we cannot say that he is like the Son of God, because he has no father, but Christ has a father, the Heavenly Father, and he had no mother while Christ Has a mother, the Virgin St. Mary.
But Melchizedek had no father, no mother, no descent in his priesthood.
In other words he did not get his priesthood through his descent from a father or a mother and so is Christ. This coincides with what St. Paul said ” And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.” (Heb. 7:5 & 6).
This means that Melchizedek did not descend from Aaron, or from the tribe of priesthood and the expression “with no father and no mother” means the same.
St. Paul explained further by applying this statement to Christ “For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.” (Heb. 7:13).
Furthermore, the Scriptures did not mention anything about the descent of Melchizedek, who was his father or mother. As if the Scripture says about him “Without father that we know of, or mother that we are acquainted with”.
The Bible said also about him “Having neither beginning of days nor end of life… ”
This means that he entered the history abruptly, and left it also abruptly without knowing the beginning of his days nor the end of his life. He appeared at a certain time to accomplish a mission and to become a symbol, without knowing his history or descent.
But Christ on the other hand, according to the flesh, His days are known.
The day of His birth, the day of His death on the cross and the day of His ascension are known. However, according to His Divinity, He has no beginning nor end.
Nevertheless, Melchizedek did not typify Christ according to His Divinity. His mention in the Scriptures (Gen. 14; Ps. 110 & Heb. 7) was only for his priestly function.
The opinion that says that Melchizedek was Christ Himself, has several objections: the saying of the apostle that he is like the Son of God, and that he is after the similitude of Melchizedek, and after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:3,15 & 17). If he is the same person, the apostle would not have said “like”-, “similitude”-, “order”.
The translation of the name indicates also that Christ is not the same person Melchizedek.
His name’s meaning is the king of peace or the king of righteousness, does not mean Christ, but a mere symbol.
The translation of names as to their relation to God reflects wonders:
Elija: My God is Yahweh.
Elishah: God is salvation.
Isiah: God saves Elihu: He is God (Job 32:2).
Samuel: The name of God or God hears.
Elijah: God is father (Num. 1:9).
Elizur: God is rock (Num. 1:5).
Elimelech: God is king (Ru. 1:2).
Elisha: God is salvation (2 Sam. 5:15).
No one of these people claimed, in regard of his name, to be appearances of God in the Old Testament. We should also reflect on the meaning of the angel’s name and many other names in the Old Testament, but the time is lacking.
The personality of Melchizedek is one of the personalities that baffled the Bible scholars.
Many arguments have been made, most of which are contradictory. It suffices for us to say that it is a symbol of the priesthood of Christ without going into the details which would lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings, and which the Bible does not substantiate.