Sheilot uTshuvot

(Questions and Answers)

Ask Torah Teacher Ariel

(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)

QUESTION 19:

Who was Melchizedek?

ANSWER:

The name Mel-chiz-ed-ek (KJV) or Malki-Tzedek as it is written in the Hebrew, means, my king is righteousness, or king of righteousness. He is first mentioned in the Torah in the book of Genesis, in a meeting with the patriarch Avram. Chapter 14 verses 18-20 reads, Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen [priest] of El Elyon [God Most High], so he blessed him with these words: Blessed be Avram by El Elyon, maker of heaven of earth; and blessed be El Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you. He is again mentioned in the highly messianic Psalm 110 at verse 4. Finally he figures in the New Covenant book of Hebrews at Chapter 5:6,10,20; and is the subject of Chapter 7. Although the Torah mentions him receiving the tithe from Our Father Avraham, no record of his official lineage (i.e. to king and to priest) is given in the immediate text. This absence has caused no small speculation on the part of the rabbis of antiquity. Especially since in Judaism the roles of king and priest are separate roles! Normally (excluding the first king, Saul of Kish), the kingly line runs through David. Accordingly, the priestly lineage is traced through Aharon the brother of Moshe. But Malki-Tzedek was both king (of Shalem) and priest (of HaShem the Most High). How is this possible? I believe, initially HaShem alluded to the answer in the prophecy stated about the Messiah in Psalm 110. This should have tipped the rabbis off about HaShems provision of a future ruler who would belong to both the priestly and kingly lines. If the rabbis could have only read Hebrews, they could have seen that only one person in history ever fulfilled both of these roles and his name is Yeshua! If the rabbis of today would do the same, I believe the same conclusion would be reached! But the book of Hebrews says something else about this man Malki-Tzedek that is very peculiar indeed. In Chapter 7:3-8, it is stated that There is no record of his father, mother, ancestry, birth or death. It does not state that he never had any of these, nor that he is alive forever more. It says he is testified to be still alive, which means midrashically (for teaching purposes only), not literally. Even the Babylonian Talmud has him identified as the son of Shem, Noachs son (Talmud Bavli, Ndarim 32b). The Torah only leads us to that seeming conclusion without explicitly stating it. We need to be careful when interpreting the text here. Do not make it say something it does not. But by seeing in Malki-Tzedek our Messiah Yeshua, the connection is strengthened as to his (Yeshuas) role as both king and priest! To be sure, I believe thats exactly what the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) had in mind when he inspired King David to make the messianic prophecy about his future ancestor.

Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy