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The Melchizedek Mystery

Updated on July 20, 2011


Melchizedek, both king of Salem, and priest of God Most High.[1] In history there are few figures as obscure as Melchizedek, yet induce such mystery and controversy. The aura surrounding Melchizedek has caught many in its web causing the question, “Who is this man?” Unfortunately, there are no pat answers for this impenetrable question though sought after by the most intelligent of minds. With this research I found, the more interesting Melchizedek became, the more elusive the answers. Melchizedek is mentioned only eleven times in Scripture, eight times in the New Testament and three times in the Old Testament. He is referred to in only three books, Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews.

[1] Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was the priest of God (El Elyon) Most High.

Genesis 14: 17-24

Abraham meets with Melchizedek
Abraham meets with Melchizedek


The brief interlude of Melchizedek starts at the end of a successful rescue mission the patriarch of the Israelite nation, Abraham undertakes. In Genesis 14:1 the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela find themselves at war with the king of Elam, Cherdorlaomer. For twelve years, they pay tribute to this Persian king but in the thirteenth year, they rebelled. Cherdorlaomer gathered three allied kings and made war on the defiant kings. The event is set in the Valley of Siddim (meaning salt) located on the southern tip of the Dead Sea. The valley of Siddim was riddled with tar pits which became the hazard that defeated the Plains armies. Cherdorlaomer walked off victorious, with all the goods, the food supply and the people, including Lot and his family, a nephew of Abraham.

            Consequently Abraham took 318 of his trained men, and rescued Lot, soundly defeating Cherdorlaomer.[1] On his return Abraham is met by Melchizedek in the valley of Shaveh, the ancient name being “king's valley”, or Kidron, on the north side of Jerusalem. It is here Melchizedek blesses Abraham who in turn pays tithe to the Priest-King.

[1] Genesis 14:1-16

The Priest-King

Tell el-Amarna
Tell el-Amarna


            מלכּי־צדק, malki^ytsedeq, - “melchi” means my king; “zedek” means righteousness. Together you have: “king of righteousness.” King of Salem means “peace” therefore he was also king of peace. Who is Melchizedek? Three Thoughts…

l. Abd-Khiba of Urusalim

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 7, talks about Melchizedek giving additional information but also presenting some difficulties. This mystery king is said to be, 1) “without father, without mother, without genealogy”; (2) described as “having neither beginning of days nor end of life”; and “abideth a priest continually.” Where did the author get the material for this description of Melchizedek?

            The answer may rest in some ancient letters that were discovered in the Tell el-Amarna Letters, circa 1450 BC. Uncovered were are at least six letters from a king And-Khiba of Urusalim to Amenophis IV, king of Egypt. Urusalim is thought to be an ancient name for Jerusalem which makes this the earliest mention of city.

            Abd-Khiba writes, “Neither my father nor my mother set me in this place: the mighty arm of the king established me in my father's house.”[1] It becomes clear that tradition identifies Melchizedek with And-Khiba as one and the same. The idea that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy” can be explained only  if the words of And-Khiba can be truly attributed to Melchizedek. And-Khiba acknowledged he did not come to the throne because of a claim through descent; he owed it to an appointment by Amenophis IV.

            Psalm 110:4 speaks of the LORD as being “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,” and this seems to involve the perpetuity of Melchizedek also as priest. Melchizedek, thought of as “having neither beginning of days” to be equal to “without father, without mother, without genealogy.” Also not having “end of life” being equal to “abideth a priest continually.” Hence, he is “made like unto the son of God,” having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

            Having no actual proof that Melchizedek is  Abd-Khiba; the question may not be answered as above, but it does give room for contemplation if not interesting speculation.

[1] Tell el-Amarna Letters, Letter 102 in Berlin collection, ll. 9-13; also number 103, ll. 25-28; number 104, ll. 13-15; International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia 

Noah's Ark

ll. An Old Tradition

There is also a tradition among many of the Jews that Melchizedek was Shem, the son of Noah. It is held by many that Shem may have survived until the days of Abraham. It is abundantly clear that Melchizedek was not of the order of the High Priest Aaron as he was a priest who preceded the entire Levi line. Many are adamant the mystery of Melchizedek is solved within the genealogies of Genesis 11:10-26. Taking this information and breaking it down, the following is seen; Shem is 102 yrs old, after the birth of his first son, two years after the flood. Shem dies 500 yrs later making him 602 yrs old, leaving him 35 yrs yet to live after Abraham dies! According to this chart:

Shem lives 210 more years after Abram is born. Abraham dies 467 years after the flood. The belief is Shem lived through the nine generations which followed him, outliving all of his own sons including Abraham. Thus the strong assumption that Shem is indeed Melchizedek. In Shem, Noah’s first born son, the priestly line continues after the flood and he is given the name, Melchizedek.[1]

            Caution must be exercised when doing this kind of mathematical reasoning to find answers. Genealogies in the Word do not necessarily list all the names of any given line. Genealogies are not there for historical accuracy but to show the work of God moving ahead throughout the generations. This may be interesting but it is not reliable.

[1] BIBLETRUTHONLINE.COM, Who is Melchizedek?

Name of Son
Yr after Flood when son is born
Age of Shem
Total Years lived by Son
Years of Shem contrasted with Sons

lll. Is this the Christ?

The last thought has been taken from Hebrews, comparing this statement, “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,” with a passage in John, “Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”[1] Eddie Snipes, from the Exchanged Life Outreach concludes that:

“only Christ could fulfill this description. Only He could openly claimed to have been present before Abraham. Only He can be the one without beginning of days or end of life. Only He has the power to have an endless life. Who in biblical history was greater than Abraham other than Jesus Christ?”[2]

Therefore the assumption has formed that Melchizedek is Jesus.

[1] Comparison of Hebrews 7:3 with John 8:56-58.

[2] Snipes, Eddie, Exchanged Life Outreach,


What is sure about Melchizedek is he was the king of Salem, the ancient city of Jerusalem which later became the city of God; he was a priest of the most high God; he was greater than Abraham so in a position to bless the patriarch and receive tithes. In his peculiar history Melchizedek becomes a character of an instructive type of our LORD, the great High Priest. There are and have been endless conjectures as to the identity of Melchizedek. Questions raised as to what order he belonged to, whether he was divine, angelic, or Christ Himself. Speculations as to his nationality, family connections and so on. Theologian, Arthur W. Pink, warns:

“…as the Holy Spirit has not seen fit to give us any information on these points, we deem it irreverence to indulge in any surmises thereon.”[1]

I agree and conclude with Deuteronomy 29:29, a helpful, practical guide when any Biblical investigation is undertaken; Moses instructs, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of the Law.”

[1] Pink, Arthur W., An Exposition of Hebrews, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, (2003) pg 360

The Blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek
The Blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I think the lesson here is simply the importance of tithing...honoring God by acknowledging we have nothing without Him! Even our very next breath is given by God...I think Melchizedek should only be looked at as an "example" of the One, True High Priest that was to come...Jesus Christ!

      Remember, this is the first book of the Bible...God put it in the beginning of the Bible for a reason...honor Him by giving back...YES, it's that important!

      Anyway, I only happened to stumble upon this site by doing some research on, if you'd like to reach me, my e-mail address is:

      Blessings abound readers...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Shem has a full genealogy so "without father, without mother, without genealogy" this cannot be speaking of Shem.

      Also we need to accept that salem, at this time was a gentile town full of gentiles - another reason for the lack of genealogy is that gentiles did not keep a rigorous genealogy like the Hebrews did. I have no problem believing that this is God, incarnate, who one day strolled into salem and pronounced the ways of God to the people and then one day just strode on out. This melchizedek is the strongest christophony in the bible, even stronger than the persona in the furnace in babylon AND melchizedek brought the communion wares, bread and wine.

      Good hub.. i enjoyed reading it.

    • profile image

      Rev Giggles 

      7 years ago

      I have settled in my heart that the Priest of the Order of Melchizadek and I find the comments somewhat amusing. I believe in the triune God and the diety of Christ. In the beginning of creation, God created all that was. Wheen He decided to make man, the words were, "Let US make man in our own image". If God was one person, then who is the US and Our in His staement? I believe that Christ was there from the beginning. When man dell, the Father had to make a plan to redem us back to the Father. I also note John 1 where it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was With God, and the Word Was God... And He came and dwelt among us..." Yes Christ was there in the beginning! And He became flesh and dwelt among us. The Priest who visited Abraham had bread and wine, COMMUNION, with Abraham. Christ visited Abraham, and then Jesus came in the flesh later and "was made man". Doesn't seem like a mystery to me!

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Pamitchrus...I do thank you for stopping and having a read...your comments are interesting...bless you

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Greetings to all... And in the begining of the beginnings of God the Ancient one of old spoke and Melchizadek came forth as pure light.. This is he who is the pattern for all the Sons of God, those royal priests, who were and are yet to come.. For the Kingdom and the Glory of God is without end.. He who has ears to hear, let them hear and rejoice with joy unexpressable !!!

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      parrster...thank you...may you be blessed in the faithfulness of your writing...

      coffeesnob! thank you my dear girl...I agree with you and that is why I decided to do this one and present it on the hubs...we need to see, know and recognize the mystery of our God and NOT be frustrated but awed in response. He alone is holy and worthy to be praised in His limitless wisdom and power.

      Love and blessings to you both...UlrikeGrace

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      UlrikeGrace, Great hub and excellent job on the research, I am one of those that has no problem with accepting the things that are mysytery as mystery. I do believe Melchizadek's purpose was to serve as a type of Christ. Blessings dear one

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Well studied UlrikeGrace, thanks, you have a gift.

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Jessdeaton...very good observation...hit the nail right on the head! If we see ole Mel in this light we have learned much we can be grateful for. Blessings to you and thanks for stopping in and commenting...appreciate it!


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting study! Apparently Melchizidek's only real purpose was to serve as type of Christ, and bless Abraham. Much speculation beyond that just creates more questions than answers.Good study thanks

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Bless you was a very interesting little amazes me how much people just really want to connect all the dots and have their answers...I didn't even present all the hypothesis on this question. Some of them were really nonsense. I am glad we can't figure everything out...and that God has kept some things from us...we are a proud enough people as it is.

      Thanks for your comments friend and blessings on you this evening.


    • RevLady profile image


      8 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      Though I usually part company with Pink on some theological doctrines, I do agree with this wise suggestion:

      “…as the Holy Spirit has not seen fit to give us any information on these points, we deem it irreverence to indulge in any surmises thereon.”

      You are certainly right, Melchizedek has stirred much debate and controversy. He is an interesting figure and I appreciate your presentation.

      I accept God's mystery as being what it is and honor God for His wisdom in reserving knowledge that was not apparently in our best interest to be privy to in this life.

      Great hub UlrikeGrace! Great images and great presentation. Blessings!

      Forever His,

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Very Good Point! Timely...but even as Melchizedek was spoken of as not having mother or it leaves it once again in the realm of mystery...And Jesus does very much have a mother...

      Thanks Timely for coming and having a read...Blessings to you


    • Timely profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Ah, let us not forget also, Jesus does have a Father:) Melchizidek birth parents, obviously not revealed but just the same real.

      Good hub with a lot of study.

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      As much as we would like to turn everything into the mystical, although a great part is...we still need to stay within the parameters of Scripture. Good point...worth pondering over but not taking a stand...our salvation is based on Christ alone and His sacrificial blood...but again its good fodder for "thinking" which we as Christians sometimes do way too little of.

      Blessings UlrikeGrace

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I had an interresting after thought. It would be unscriptural for Melchizidek to be Christ, that is in a human form. He only came once as a man and that was as a baby out of Mary. As some mystical man that He just decided to show up as doesn't fit the Scripture. I wonder if God finds humor in our efforts to create revelation outside of the Divine? Keep writing Ulrike Grace!

    • UlrikeGrace profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks rls4immanuel...I agree, It was interesting to research but it solidified more than ever that what God has not made clear we, as the ever inquisitive people we are, muddy up the waters with a lot of speculation! And wow! thanks for being must have been right on it! Blessings to you and grateful as always for your encouragement and support


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ulrike Grace: A very good study that brings up interresting considerations. I think that your conclusion is very wise. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. Clearly God in His wisdom has kept Melchizidekian information from us and human nature being ever so curious wants to know. Praise God that He keeps the secret things of God to Himself. We have a tendency to run amock with what we do not understand. Well done.


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