I was recently reading a short homily on Melchizedek in which the author stated “there is no record, either in secular history or elsewhere in the Bible, that there ever was such a city or earthly king.” This is just not true. One just has to know what they are looking for.
The first thing to understand is that Melchizedek is not a name but rather a title, King of Righteousness. It is said he was the King of Salem, or Shalom.
And Mel-chizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. Gen. 14:18
This uniformed preacher also stated, “Commentators mostly have assumed that Melchizedek was the chieftain of a small settlement of which we have no record, but this hardly does justice to the exalted descriptions of him in Scripture.” I cannot for the life of me figure out who “most commentators” are? When I want to know what most commentators think about a passage there are only two sources that one needs to look at, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, and The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Now Matthew Henry (1662-1714) was a brilliant man of God, a Welsh Non-Conformist i.e. Presbyterian who wrote an extremely useful commentary before the great age archeology began to shed more light on some of the more strange things in the Bible, so he misses some clarifying information. On the other side is the International Critical Commentary, which was written by a group of men in the late 19th to early 20th century. None of these men were believers. None of them believed the Bible was written by the people the Bible claims did that writing, or when tradition holds that these book were written. They were however brilliant linguist, and some of what they wrote is very useful. Both Matthew Henry and the International Critical Commentary make no claim to Melchizedek being the chieftain of a small settlement. Both of them state that the Rabbinic tradition holds that Melchizedek was Shem, and further the International Critical Commentary spends half a page on the Tel Amarna Tablets mentioning a place called Uru-Salem, and speculating that this might be the same place.
This person is avoiding the obvious information available because he wants to make the unsound point that Melchizedek is the pre-incarnate Messiah. In theological circles this is called “pushing the type.” In Typology for the type to be at a type it cannot be literal.
FYI: Typology is that which in the Old Testament shadows, prefigures, or elucidates something in the New Testament. In theological discussions of typology there is the type and antitype. The type is in the Old Testament as a historical event, or instruction that prefigures the antitype in the New Testament. As such it demonstrates the unity of both Old and New Testaments.
- Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (type) and a prefigure of Messiah’s crucifixion (antitype). [Gen 22]
- Joseph being rejected by his brothers (type), yet rules over them (antitype). [Gen 37, 42]
- The entire sacrificial code of the temple (type) of Messiah’s atonement (antitype).
- The birth of Isaiah’s son (type) and the birth of Messiah (antitype). [Is 7:14]
- The books of The Song of Songs and Hosea are both consider typological of God’s relationship with his people. One is the faithful bride the other is the unfaithful whore.
The Bible gives very little information on the priest Melchizedek. His historical meeting with Abaham is in Gen. 14. A vague typological prophecy is in Psalms 110, and that typology is explained in Heb. 5-7.
The prophecy or type is in the Psalms and the antitype or fulfillment is explained in Hebrews. Remember this a title not a name.
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Psa. 110:4
. . . as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 5:6
. . . being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 5:10
. . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 6:20
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; Heb. 7:1
. . . for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. Heb. 7:10
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? Heb. 7:11
This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, Heb. 7:15
For it is witnessed of him, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 7:17
Extra Biblical Sources
Despite this man’s claims, we know from historical sources his name was Shem the son of Noah.
Rabbinic literature unanimously identifies Melchizedek as Shem son of Noah (Targum Yonathan to Genesis chap. 14, Genesis Rabbah 46:7, Babylonian Talmud to Tractate Nedarim 32b). The Talmud Bavli attributes him (Shem and his beth din court of justice) as pioneers in banning prostitution (Avodah Zarah p. 36a). This information came from Wikipedia, a secular source that is available to anyone with a computer.
Without going through a whole bunch of stuff from comparative religion books, I will cut to the chase. (the books are listed in the Bibliography under Comparative Religion/Paganism) All paganism contains the same shared history that all people shared prior to the languages being confused at the tower of Babel. There is always a memory of Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and the tower building of Nimrod. The stories are often combined, twisted or folded over on each other. What was good become evil, and the evil becomes the good, e.g. the serpent’s giving the gift of knowledge freed us from the stingy evil god.
Adam is remembered as the god who ate his children. For by eating the fruit he brought death to all his descendants. He is the prototype of Molech, Kronos, and Saturn. Eve is the prototype of all mother goddesses, for she is the mother of us all. Noah’s flood is a universal story told in almost all languages and cultures, and Nimrod’s tower is where all this became religion instead of history.
The point of Nimrod’s tower was to push God away. The Polynesian version of the tale has Nimrod as the great Emancipator who through great effort raised the sky. This is because after the flood God seemed very near and very avenging. This became the sky and it was so close to the earth that men were forced to crawl on the ground. However the great Emancipator managed to lift it to the top of a rock then a tree and finally above the mountains. This freed men to stand up for themselves. The story of Atlas is of the same vain, lifting heaven on his shoulders. And so it is all over the world. The tower builder the man who put the heavens up where they belong is the great Emancipator.
Then the stories all agree that an evil god comes and kills the liberating god. Shem was the prototype of this god. He called together 72 judges i.e. a beth din and they found Nimrod guilty of apostasy. He was executed and his body cut into pieces and sent through out the world as a warning to all those who would be apostate.[c.f. Judg. 19:29; 1 Sam. 11:7] He is Typhon/Set in Egypt, Loki in Norse mythology, a bores tusk in Greek, Ogmius to the Celts etc. So if you know what to look for Melchizedek is everywhere.
As Shem lived 502 years after the flood. He had plenty of time to effect the world for truth. He was the King of Righteousness. This event forced paganism underground for a short time. Those who wished to continue what amounts to ancestor worship form secret societies a.k.a. mystery religions. Just as today these groups had passwords and rituals that made them feel separate and special.
Unfortunately the story goes on with a goddess putting all the pieces together in one way or another and impregnating herself with the corpse. She then brings forth a son that is the reincarnation of the dead father, and paganism is restored to the people. This bring back of paganism is also a universal story.
In Egypt, the Mother and the Child were worshipped under the names of Isis and Horis. In India they are Isi and Iswara, in Asia, as Cybele and Deoius, in Pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer or Jupiter the boy, in Greece she is Ceres the Great Mother with the babe at her breast, or as Irene the goddess of Peac, with the boy Plutus in her arms, in China, Shing Moo, is represented with a child in her arms, and last but not least the Madonna and Child.
So Shem lost the battle but was remember as the King of Shalom. The one who sought to maintain the peace between men and the One True God.
We need to be constantly vigilant that our spiritual leaders actually know what they are talking about. This little bit of nonsense will not cause a loss of salvation but other times they teach open heresy.