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Appendix I


Some References

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary says the following about Melchizedek:

A king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the Most High God (Gen. 14:18-20; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:6-11; 6:20-7:28). Melchizedek's appearance and disappearance in the Book of Genesis are somewhat mysterious. Melchizedek and Abraham first met after Abraham's defeat of Chedorlaomer and his three allies. Melchizedek presented bread and wine to Abraham and his weary men, demonstrating friendship and religious kinship. He bestowed a blessing on Abraham in the name of El Elyon ("God Most High"), and praised God for giving Abraham a victory in battle (Gen. 14:18-20).

Abraham presented Melchizedek with a tithe (a tenth) of all the booty he had gathered. By this act Abraham indicated that he recognized Melchizedek as a fellow-worshiper of the one true God as well as a priest who ranked higher spiritually than himself. Melchizedek's existence shows that there were people other than Abraham and his family who served the true God.

In Psalm 110, a messianic psalm written by David (Matt. 22:43), Melchizedek is seen as a type of Christ. This theme is repeated in the Book of Hebrews, where both Melchizedek and Christ are considered kings of righteousness and peace. By citing Melchizedek and his unique priesthood as a type, the writer shows that Christ's new priesthood is superior to the old Levitical order and the priesthood of Aaron (Heb. 7:1-10; Melchisedec, KJV). Attempts have been made to identify Melchizedek as . . . an angel, the Holy Spirit, Christ, and others. All are the products of speculation, not historical fact; and it is impossible to reconcile them with the theological argument of Hebrews. Melchizedek was a real, historical king-priest who served as a type for the greater King-Priest who was to come, Jesus Christ (p. 819).

The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary gives this interpretation of the seventh chapter of Hebrews:

Within the interpretation of Ps. 110 that occupies much of the epistle to the Hebrews, Heb. 7 builds on Gen. 14:18-20. Abraham's acknowledgment of the legitimacy of Melchizedek's priesthood becomes an argument for the priority of that priesthood over the "descendants of Levi" (vv. 4-10). The messianic ruler of Ps. 110 is, therefore, a priest of a line prior to the levitical priesthood ("after the order of Melchizedek"; Heb. 7:11-19; KJV "Melchisedec"; cf. 5:6, 10; 6:20). That the narrative of the king-priest Melchizedek is introduced so abruptly into Genesis becomes an argument for Melchizedek's being "without father or mother or genealogy," i.e., beginning or end (7:3), and so not only a predecessor but also a type of Christ as "a priest for ever" (cf. Ps. 110:4). The legitimacy of the levitical priesthood depends on its descent from Levi; as it has a beginning, so it has an end in the understanding of the author of Hebrews (p. 707).

The caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found yielded a series of thirteen fragments on Melchizedek. From these, it appears the belief that Melchizedek was the Messiah was a strongly held conviction among the Qumran community, as well as among some other Jewish and Gnostic sects in the first century A.D.

Some branches of the Church of God have also held this view. They have used the depiction of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7 not only to connect him to Christ but also as support for the co-eternality of Christ with God the Father in the Binitarian model of the Godhead.

In Hebrews 6:20 we find the premise of chapter 7 established, which is that Jesus Christ is now our High Priest in heaven. As such, he is of the order of Melchizedek, which is contrasted with the Levitical priesthood.

HEBREWS 6:20 Where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to [kata] the order of Melchizedek. (NKJV)

The New Analytical Greek Lexicon says that kata means "after the fashion or likeness of."

HEBREWS 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy [agenealogetos]1, having neither beginning of days nor end of life2, but made like [aphomoiomenos] the Son of God, remains a priest continually3. (NKJV)

The belief that Melchizedek was Christ rests on three erroneous assumptions about Hebrews 7:3, shown by the superscripted numbers in the passage above.

The first is the argument that since Melchizedek is said to be without father, mother, and genealogy, he has to be eternal and therefore the Son of God. However, many have failed to see that the author does not use the terms "without father" (apatoor), "without mother" (ametoor), and "without genealogy" (agenealogetos) literally in this passage.

The concept presented by the author is not that Melchizedek lacked an actual father, mother, or family tree, but that there is no record of his parents and lineage. The Mosaic law required that all priests be descendants of the tribe of Levi. Those who were not Levites could not be priests under the law. Melchizedek is introduced in Genesis 14:18-20 as priest of the Most High God, but no details are given about him. Under the law, he was not qualified to be a priest.

Nehemiah 7:61-64 shows that priests had to be able to trace their lineage when the priesthood was reestablished after the Babylonian captivity. Those who were unable to do so were disqualified from the priesthood.

NEHEMIAH 7:61 And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father's house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two; 63 and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. 64 These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. (NKJV)

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) comments: "The argument of He. 7 is similar to the rabbinic argument from silence, which assumed that nothing exists unless Scripture mentions it. Since Genesis says nothing of Melchizedek's parents, genealogy, birth, or death, he serves as a type representing the eternal Son of God (v. 3)" ("Melchizedek," vol. 3, p. 313).

In rabbinical logic and reasoning, statements could be made which were "arguments from silence." If the Bible didn't specifically say something about a person, place, or incident, various conclusions could be drawn for the sake of the claim or discussion being presented. The author of Hebrews (probably Paul) was obviously familiar with the law, the Temple service, and forms of rabbinical discourse. He uses the rabbinical method of argument from silence in verse 3.

Harper's Bible Commentary says of this passage:

Formally, the chapter [Hebrews 7] constitutes an exegetical discussion of Ps. 110:4 based upon the only other OT text that mentions Melchizedek, Gen. 14:17-20. This exegesis, emphasizing the heavenly character of Christ's priesthood, may have been inspired by the abundant contemporary speculation on Melchizedek as a heavenly figure, examples of which are found in the Alexandrian Jewish writer Philo, at Qumran, and in Gnostic sources. Whatever the inspiration, Hebrews is quite restrained in its comments on Melchizedek, utilizing only what is necessary to make the Christological point (p. 1265).

Harper's goes on to say that "from the pregnant silence of Scripture is deduced Melchizedek's status as 'fatherless, motherless, without genealogy' (v. 3)" (p. 1265). Thus, Melchizedek could be said to be "without father, without mother, and without genealogy" because the Scriptures didn't identify his lineage. While this argument might seem unconvincing to the modern mind, it would have been understandable and reasonable to a first century Jew.

The second mistaken assumption is that Melchizedek had no beginning or end, and therefore must be the immortal Son of God. The term "beginning of days and end of life" refers to the lack of information in the Scriptures regarding his origin or demise. The Abingdon Bible Commentary says that in Hebrews 7:3, the author "makes a very remarkable use of the argument from silence. Nothing is said in Genesis about the parentage of Melchizedek. We are not told anything about his father or his mother. There is no reference to the beginning of his life or to its end - to his birth or to his death . . . In view of the writer the silences of Scripture are as significant as its statements . . ." (p. 1310).

About Hebrews 7:3, Halley's Bible Handbook says:

What is the meaning of 'without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life'? Not that it was actually so, but that it appeared so in the Old Testament Records. Levitical Priests were Priests Because of their Genealogy. But Melchizedek, Without Genealogy, was the Recognized Priest of the Human Race at that time. Hebrew tradition is that Shem, who was still alive in the days of Abraham, and, as far is as known, Oldest Living Man at the time, was Melchizedek. A mysterious, solitary picture and type, in the dim past, of the Coming Eternal Priest-King (p. 652).

The third erroneous assumption is that Melchizedek continues as a priest to this day. One might conclude from the statement "Melchizedek remains a priest continually" that he is still alive and holding the office of priest. Again, this is not the point the author of Hebrews is trying to make. In effect, he is using the argument from silence to say that "since the Bible is silent about the death of Melchizedek, we can figuratively contend that he is alive and remains in the office of priest." In this way he is an appropriate type of the priesthood of the Jesus Christ.

Appendix II

Word Study

agenealogetos.


Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
says this word "denotes 'without recorded pedigree' . . ." Vine's goes on to say that "the narrative in Gen. 14 is so framed in facts and omissions as to foreshadow the person of Christ" (NT, p. 262).

The abridged Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) says agenealogetos "occurs only in Heb. 7:3, where Melchizedek is said to be 'without genealogy.' Unlike the Aaronic priests, he has no traceable descent" (p. 114).

Word Meanings in the New Testament states that this word "is compounded of alpha-negative and the verb genealoge§ (found in NT only in v. 6), 'to trace ancestry.' So it clearly means 'without genealogy' (NASB, NIV) that is, without a recorded pedigree. We should not assume, as some have wrongly done, that Melchizedek was without human ancestry" (p. 424).

The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, Conybeare and Howson write that this word means "without table of descent." They go on to explain, "The priesthood of Melchisedec was not, like the Levitical priesthood, dependent on his descent, through his parents, from a particular family, but was a personal office" (p. 800).

aphomoiomenos.

TDNT says that "this verb [the root aphomoiˇ§] means 'to copy,' rarely 'to compare,' and in the passive 'to be or become like' or 'make oneself out to be like'" (p. 686).

ISBE states: "Some have thought that Melchizedek was a Christophany rather than a historical character and thus understood vv. 2b-3 literally rather than typologically. A major objection to such an interpretation is the statement that Melchizedek resembled (Gk. aphomoiomenos) the Son of God (v. 3). The verb aphomoioo [from which aphomoiomenos is derived] always assumes two distinct and separate identities, one which is a copy of the other. Thus Melchizedek and the Son of God are represented as two separate persons, the first of which resembled the second" ("Melchizedek," vol. 3, p. 313). 

genealogoumenos

The use of genealogoumenos in verse 6 shows that Melchizedek has lineage, but it is not through Levi.

Vine's says of this word: "'to reckon or trace a genealogy' (from genea, 'a race,' and leg§, 'to choose, pick out'), is used, in the passive voice, of Melchizedek in Heb. 7:6, RV, 'whose genealogy (KJV, 'descent') is not counted" (NT, p. 262).

TDNT says "this derives from genealogos, 'one who draws up a genealogy.' It occurs . . . in the NT only in Heb. 7:6: Melchizedek does not 'derive his descent' from the descendants of Levi" (p. 114).

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT) says this word means to "trace one's descent. In Heb. 7:6 of Melchizedek, who 'does not trace his descent' (NEB) to the sons of Levi" (vol. 1, p. 242).

Allos and  heteros

Verses 11 and 15 clearly state that Christ is another, different priest of the order originated by Melchizedek. There is no suggestion here that Melchizedek and Christ are the same entity. If they were, the writer of Hebrews surely would have stressed that point. But the use of heteros plainly indicates that Christ, although he came in the likeness of Melchizedek, was not Melchizedek.

heteros, found in verses 11 and 15. TDNT says: "In the NT heteros is used in much the same way as allos . . . It denotes the new member in a series that either continues (Lk. 14:18ff.) or concludes it (Acts 15:35). It may denote others either of the same kind (Acts 17:34; Lk. 4:34) or of another kind (Lk. 23:32) . . . " (p. 265).

Vine's says that allos and heteros "have a different meaning, which despite a tendency to be lost, is to be observed in numerous passages. Allos expresses a numerical difference and denotes 'another of the same sort'; heteros expresses a qualitative difference and denotes 'another of a different sort'" (NT, p. 29).

EDNT says of this word that "approximately half of the occurrences have the connotation of something additional: a further or additional instances of a type. . . . Passages that speak of another as a replacement or successor also have an adversative association (Acts 1:20; 7:18; Rom 7:4; Heb 7:11, 13, 15)" (vol. 2, p. 66).
 

Appendix III
Genealogy of Patriarchs
Biblical Chronology


FC = From Creation                                BC = Before Christ

 

Shem Outlived Abraham by 35 years.
Shem lived contemporary with Isaac and Jacob.