Melchizedek enters the Biblical stage in Genesis 14:18. Abram has just saved his nephew Lot from peril and captivity. In Genesis 14:18-20a we read:
“Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High.
He pronounced this blessing: Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High for putting your enemies into your clutches.”
His succinct introduction tells us a few things about Melchizedek:
- His name means righteous king (melchi-tzedek).
- He is the king of Salem (Shalem in Hebrew; remember that Shalom means peace).
- He is a priest of God Most High.
- He blesses Abram yet he also places the correct emphasis on God.
In the New Testament Melchizedek is referred to in Hebrews, which is the letter that asserts Jesus Christ to be the eschatological high priest. Hebrews 5 quotes Psalm 110 that refers to the Lord: “you are a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 7:3 says of Melchizedek “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.”
Unlike Abraham or Jesus, we don’t know where Melchizedek came from- we don’t know who his parents are, let alone his genealogy. Therefore as a priest of God Most High he resembles a Son of God- eternal, divine. Translations use the word ‘like’ or ‘resemble’; they never claim that Melchizedek actually is divine.
Jesus as high priest is the Son of God, yet he also has a genealogy- we know that He is human. Jesus is both human and the divine Son of God.
— Eric Wolf