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Who is Melchizedek of the Bible to Whom Abraham Paid Tithe?

Updated on May 3, 2020
Doneta Wrate profile image

I have Health Science BS from Christian college. I've been Christian since teenager, studying bible every day. I enjoy history & research.


1. The Man Melchizedek

2. Jesus the Second Melchizedek

3. Links and Resources

Melchizedek blessing Abraham and receiving tithes from him.  For this reason, Apostle Paul says Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, the father of the Jews.  Hebrews 7
Melchizedek blessing Abraham and receiving tithes from him. For this reason, Apostle Paul says Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, the father of the Jews. Hebrews 7 | Source

1. The Man Melchizedek

Melchizedek is a mystery man of the Bible. There is not much in the Bible on him: Genesis 14:18-20, Psalms 110:4, and Hebrews 7. But some things can be gleaned from Jewish and Christian church histories and traditions. Some of this will be added here.

Some church historians want to say Melchizedek was a pagan priest. But both Genesis 14:18 and the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 7:1 say he was a priest of the Most High God.

  • For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,... Hebrews 7:1 NKJV

Rabbinic literature and early Christian Church Fathers says that Melchizedek was Shem, Noah's son. Since Noah was father and husband of the only family that survived the flood, he would have been priest of the family. After he died, the priesthood passed on to each son over their respective families and descendants. Shem felt the responsibility very heavily for passing the knowledge of the true God on to people. As a priest of God in Salem, Melchizedek, or Shem, was the first to build a true tabernacle to the Lord. He also had an academy to train people in the ways of the Lord. Salem was later to become Jerusalem.

Some who know about Biblical time lines can ask how can Melchizedek be Shem, because Abraham was the eighth generation after Shem. Abraham was a direct descendant of Shem. If you look at Genesis 5, you will find that before the flood, people lived a very long time: Methuselah lived to 969 years, Adam to 930 years, and Seth to 912 years. After the flood, people's lives began to shorten. Shem lived to 600 and Abraham to 175.

Shem was 98 at the time of the flood, and 465 when he blessed Abraham; Abraham was 75. Shem lived past Abraham by about 30 years and was probably at his funeral. For more on this click on the link in the resources below: the Bible Timeline: Melchizedek and Shem.

Melchizedek lived his life in the city of Salem, which was in the area of Canaan. Salem means city of peace. Besides being a priest, he was a king. His name means king of righteousness. He was the first to initiate and complete a wall surrounding the city. Salem later became Jerusalem.

Some want to say that Melchizedek was Christ. But Hebrews 7:3 contradicts that. In this verse it says that they were similar.

  • but made like the Son of God. Hebrews 7:3 NKJV
  • From the Scriptures we know nothing about his father or mother or his beginning or end. So in this sense, he's a symbol of Christ whose priesthood is timeless because He always was and always will be. Hebrews 7:3 Clear Word

So Melchizedek was "made like the Son of God," but was not actually Christ. There are a number of similarities between the two:

  • Melchizedeks name meant king of righteousness
  • He was a high priest
  • The city he lived in was a city of peace
  • Since he blessed Abraham, he was greater than Abraham. Hebrews 7:4,7 To the Jews, Abraham was the greatest. But the Apostle Paul pointed out differently; in the same way Jesus priesthood is greater than the Levitical priesthood.
  • As far as what is revealed directly in scripture, Melchizedek has no beginning or end. He just suddenly shows up and disappears in the Bible.

God used Melchizedek to draw a lesson for the Jewish Christians in Hebrews 7 that they needed at the time. This lesson will be covered in the next section.

Jesus is the second Melchizeded. Jesus is King and High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  He ever lives to make intercession for us for forgiveness and power to live changed lives like Him
Jesus is the second Melchizeded. Jesus is King and High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. He ever lives to make intercession for us for forgiveness and power to live changed lives like Him | Source

2. Jesus the Second Melchizedek

In Jewish traditions at the time of Jesus death, there was thought to be merit in the sacrifices themselves for forgiveness of sin. But that was not God's intention. The sacrifices were intended to point forward in faith to the coming Messiah. The whole Jewish worship system was the gospel in symbols. That is why Jesus was called the Lamb of God.

  • You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:16,17 NIV

The sacrifices were intended to keep ever before the Jews the promise of the coming Messiah, their Redeemer. But they distorted and corrupted God's intention of their worship system.

Because of their misconceptions, Jewish Christians were having a hard time giving up their Jewish traditions. Melchizedek and the book of Hebrews was written by the Apostle Paul to help the Jewish Christians make this transition.

  • If perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood...Hebrews 7:11 NIV
  • The Lord hath sworn and will not change His Mind: You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:21 quoted from Psalms 110:4 NIV

Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Levitical sacrifices in His death on the cross. In Psalms 110, God promised that the Messiah would be our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was both High Priest and King. Jesus is both High Priest and King. Priests used to come from the tribe of Levi. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. Kings used to come from the tribe of Judah, like King David. Melchizedek and Jesus both are High Priests from a different order.

  • Think how great he was: even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder. Hebrews 7:4 NIV

The Apostle Paul points out to the Jewish Christians in the beginning of Hebrews 7 that Melchizedek was greater than the grand patriarch father Abraham. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and was paid tithes by him. The greater blesses the lesser. The Levitical priests are descendants of Abraham. But Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek, the greater priesthood. Apostle Paul was pointing out to the Jewish Christians that it was time to give up an inferior priesthood for a greater one with Jesus, after the order of Melchizedek.

  • Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25 NIV

The Levitical priesthood could save no one. It pointed forward to the Messiah that could save. Jesus lives not only to give us forgiveness, but also power to live a changed life and become more like Him.

  • For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world--our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4-5 NKJV
  • And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV
  • But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. For by beholding we become changed. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

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© 2019 Doneta Wrate


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    • Doneta Wrate profile imageAUTHOR

      Doneta Wrate 

      16 months ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your complements Audrey

    • celafoe profile image


      18 months ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

      What eternal value does trying to show what God has hidden, through the works of man?

      I prefer to follow and promote Christ. The end is fast approaching

    • Doneta Wrate profile imageAUTHOR

      Doneta Wrate 

      18 months ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your interest. You are exactly right. A lot of stories in the Bible have double meanings. I recently learned from the respected TV evangelist Doug Bachelor is the reason for the telling of the wars and battles in the old testament is because symboliclly they tell you how to fight spiritual battles.

      Sorry I denied your comment under the article but you used the word which is the main key word of my article and I understand that can affect google sending readers.


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