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Chapter One

Melchizedek, Salem, and  El Elyon

 

Gen 14:18  And Mel-chiz'edek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.

Gen 14:19  And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth;

Gen 14:20  and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

What is in a Name?

Mel-kiz'e-dek,  (malki-tsedheq, "Tsedheq, or Tsidhiq is my king" or “King Righteous”) (Gen 14:18- . Psa 110:4); Melchisedek (Heb 5:6, Heb 5:10; Heb 6:20; Heb 7:1, Heb 7:10-11, Heb 7:15, Heb 7:17)): The name is explained in Heb 7:2 as "king of righteousness." 

Others propose that “Melchizedek” means “My god is Zedek.”   Zedek happens to be the name of another Canaanite/Phoenician deity worshipped at the time of Abram.  This person whose God is Zedek was also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.

We can look upon the name in two ways

1. Metaphorical

(1)   The name “Melchizedek” may not be a proper name at all, but a metaphoric title. The word “Melchizedek” when translated means “Legitimate King,” “the Rightful King” or “Righteous King.”

The word “Salem” translated, simply means “peace.”

It may, therefore also be hypothesized that Melchizedek was not literally the king of the city of Jerusalem, but was metaphorically the “King of Peace,” a title like Isaiah’s “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6)   Some have even suggested that since Melchizedek is called “The King of Peace,” Melchizedek was the “Father” of the “Prince of Peace.”   The very attempt of Heb 7 indicates that the names are allegorical and amenable to spiritual interpretation.


These are however spiritualization of a historical figure. Paul is the only person in the Bible who does this type of interpretation.  Apparently this was a common practice among the Jewish Rabbinic hermeneutics.  However one should be very careful in pushing the analogies too far that it violates the historical significance and meaning.  Hebrew however does not push the matter beyond the implication of the meaning of the names.

2.  Real Person

Melchizedek however was a real person who met Abram in Gen 14.18 and he was indeed the King of the city of Salem – a real city.  Josephus, states that Salem was later renamed Jerusalem.   Then Melchizedek reigned as the king of the city of Jerusalem during the days of Abram. 

Melchizedek was king of Salem (= Jerusalem) and "a priest unto ‘Most High God’.  The Most High God is a translation of the word El Elyon.  We will then have to see who this Most High God, El Elyon is.

El Elyon

Abraham came from Ur, a city in Sumer west of the Euphrates. Abraham and his father were pagans. They worshipped Sumerian gods: "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors - Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor... served other gods." (Joshua 24:2)   For the first seventy-five years of his life Abraham worshipped "other gods": Sumerian gods. Then, God called him out of his family and out of his country.

But then when he arrives in Canaan, he meets Melchizedek the Priest of the Most High God who called him out. Who was El? El was the highest God of the Canaanite pantheon. He is mentioned in numerous passages of the Ugaritic texts.  The Ugaritic texts were written ca. 1400 BC. They were discovered in modern Syria. Abraham discovered God in Haran, Syria, and then moved to Canaan.

Gen. 14:19, 22 identifies El Elyon as 'possessor' of all the earth. The RSV follows the LXX (Septuagint) and translates 'ektisen’ as ‘'who created.' – the creator of all the earth. This perspective clearly precludes El from being considered a nature deity (e.g. Baal), and stresses his total supremacy. Psalm 78:35 (cf. Num. 24:16) follows this with El Elyon as the most exalted one.  It is translated as “Most High God”.  Translated in the Dravidian language it becomes Parameshwara or Maheswara which was the oldest God of the Dravidians who was later identified as Siva.

Zedek is the name of the planet Jupiter in Hebrew.  Jupiter is the God of Heaven (Zeus to the Greeks and Dyaus Pitar to the early Aryans).  The reading can then be rendered as “My king is the God of Heaven.”  Then it becomes the translation of the Zoroastrian Persian god, Ahuramazda.  It also allows YHVH to be granted the title El Elyon, illustrating the syncretic nature of the bible and the syncretic intent of the Persians in propagating it. El Elyon was the name used by the Phoenicians of their high gods. Phoenicians were also Hebrews—they too lived in Abarnahara (Palestine).  In an equal way, YHVH is called, by Abraham, El Shaddai (“Almighty”). In Psalms 91:1 El Elyon and El Shaddai are joined in poetic parallel to equate the two titles.

This identification of El with YHVH is also seen in the story of Balaam in Num 23. The proper name of the God of Abraham was El.

The word "God" in the English versions of the Old Testament, in 213 instances is the translation of the Hebrew word "El."  God is called "El" fifty-six times in the book of Job.  

 Jacob built an altar to God El: "There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel." (Genesis 33:20)  "And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob”. And he said, “Here am I.” And he said, “I am God {El}, the God {Elohim – plural for El} of your father."”(Genesis 46:2-3)

Also see: Genesis 14:18-24; Psalm 57:2-3a; Psalm 78:35, 41-57; Psalm 46:4; Psalm 50:14-15; Psalm 107:11-12; Deuteronomy 32:7-8; 2 Samuel 22:14; Lamentations 3:35, 38; Daniel 3:26; Daniel 4; Daniel 5:18-21; Mark 5:7 (Luke 8:28) ; Luke 1:32; Luke 1:35; Acts 16:17-18

Salem

Psalm 76.2 identifies Salem as Zion (c.f. Josephus, Flavius of c. 37 AD in  Antiquities of the Jews 7.3.2History of the Jewish War 6..10.1); and all the Targums (Aramaic explanatory translations or paraphrasing of the Hebrew Scriptures.) render Salem as Jerusalem. So also does the Qumran Genesis Apocryphon (1Q 20 XXII found in Cave 1). Jerome noted that the Hebrews identified Salem as Jerusalem .

Other possibilities that do not carry much evidence include the following:

·         There had been an ancient city Salim (Salem) near Nablus (LXX Gen.33.18; LXX Jer 48.5 Salem= Hebrew 41.5, where Salem was Shiloh; also Jub.30.1; Judith 4.4). This may be the Salim of John 3.23, near where John baptized.

·         The Spanish Christian pilgrim Egeria (about 390CE) was shown a large village in the Jordan valley, said to have been the city of Melchizedek.

·         The Samaritans had claimed Salem at least since Pseudo-Eupolemos, 2nd century BCE, who says Abraham met Melchizedek near Mount Gerizim 

This is what Josephus the historian of the first century has to say:
"But he who first built it was a potent man among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchisedek], the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem."
- Flavius Josephus, War of the Jews, Bk VI, Ch X, Sn 1

In 1925 a German archaeologist managed to buy some Egyptian pottery of the 18th century BC on which appeared some texts written in the Greek language. Among the text was the name Ur Salem, which is generally accepted, though with little proof, to be the name of the city – Jerusalem. The name Maliki Sadik is also mentioned in connection with the city, for he was the priest of Ur Salem.  Maliki Sadik is certainly the person of Melchizedek. Malik simply means King. An additional mention of Ur Salem comes from the Tal Ammareneh in Egypt, where Ur Salem was used as a curse against uncooperative kings.  Ur is same as city or village which is the same word used in Tamil and other Dravidian languages. Archaeological studies indicate that the city is very ancient, having been established perhaps more than 2,000 years before it was captured from the Jebusites by King David around 1,000 B.C. 

Evidently Salem is in Mount Zion which is also known as Mount Moriah.  It was here Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac to show his absolute trust in El Elyon in Gen 22.

The Samaritans identified the city of Salem with their sanctuary on Mount Gerizim (see LXX., Gen. xxxiii. 18; comp. Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," ix. s7) and Beth-el lie North of Salem or Jerusalem.

The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham built his first altar in Canaan here and that the name Bethel, given to Jacob's sacred stone, was then transferred to the town itself. At the time of the Judges it was a national shrine. It temporarily harbored the Ark of the Covenant. Bethel lost its preeminence as a Jewish shrine to Jerusalem; in 1 Kings, Jeroboam's attempt to establish Bethel as a rival religious capital failed.

The Columbia Encyclopedia

The tradition of "Jacob's Dream" is also identified with Mount Moriah.  There he put memorial stone and poured oil over it as an offering to El Elyon. (The Sivlinga of the Saivite is said to be the memorial stone carried into the Dravidian culture.) At the time of the arrival of the Israelites in Palestine it was known as Jebus   under the control of Jebusites.  The word simply means Hill country or the mountain region.  Jebusites means Hill People.  They were ruled by Adonizedek (Joshua 10:1, 23) who probably was one of the descendants or predecessor of Melchizedek. This land was given to Abraham and his descendants by El because the Salemites were rejected by El.  (Genesis 15:21; Exodus 3:8, 17; 23:23, 24; Deuteronomy 20:17; Exodus 33:9; 34:10, 11) They were defeated by Joshua, and their king was slain; but they were not entirely driven out of Jebus till the time of David.  Even when David took the Hill country, he respected the rights of the people of Jebus and their property rights.   Thus the Mount Moriah was owned by Araunah (who was using it as a threshing floor), the city's former Jebusite king from whom David bought it.  "So David paid Ornan [Auranah] for the site 600 shekels' worth of gold. And David built there an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burn offerings and offerings of well-being" (1 Chronicles 21:25, 2 Samuel 24:18-25).

(See http://jeru.huji.ac.il)

Solomon’s Temple
 

The first Temple was constructed by King Solomon over a period of about 12 years, with completion around 950 B.C. This Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar about 587 B.C. The first Temple lasted about 360 years.

Herod’s Temple

The Temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great, and was in existence at the time of Jesus Christ. It was a continuation of earlier reconstruction work done by Jews who had been allowed to return by the Persians after the Babylonian Captivity. The second Temple was destroyed by the Roman Legions under Titus in 70 A.D Bible prophecy clearly indicates that one more Temple is going to be constructed in Jerusalem.