|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:17-20 Melchizedek is spoken of as a king of Salem, supposed to be the place afterwards called Jerusalem, and it is generally thought that he was only a man. The words of the apostle, Heb 7:3, state only, that the sacred history has said nothing of his ancestors. The silence of the Scriptures on this, is to raise our thoughts to Him, whose generation cannot be declared. Bread and wine were suitable refreshment for the weary followers of Abram; and it is remarkable that Christ appointed the same as the memorials of his body and blood, which are meat and drink indeed to the soul. Melchizedek blessed Abram from God. He blessed God from Abram. We ought to give thanks for other's mercies as for our own. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not only offers up ours, but his own for us. Abram gave him the tenth of the spoils, Heb 7:4. When we have received some great mercy from God, it is very fit we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. Jesus Christ, our great Melchisedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged as our King and Priest; not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be given up to him.
Verse 20. - And blessed be the most high God (cf. Genesis 9:56), who hath delivered - miggen, a word peculiar to poetry - nathan (cf. Proverbs 4:9; Hosea 11:8) - thine enemies - tsarecha, also a poetical expression - oyeb (cf. Deuteronomy 32:27; Job 16:9; Psalm 81:15) - into thy hand. And he - not Melchisedeck (Jewish interpreters), but Abram (Josephus, LXX., Jonathan, Hebrews 7:6) - gave him (not Abram, but Melchisedeck) tithes "tenths." These, being the customary offering to the Deity, were an acknowledgment of the Divine priesthood of Melchisedeck. The practice of paying tithes, primarily a voluntary tax for the servants of the sanctuary, appears to have obtained among different nations from the remotest antiquity (vide Dr. Ginsburg in 'Kitto's Cyclopedia,' art. Tithes). The tithal law was afterwards incorporated among the Mosaic statutes (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:31-32) - of all - the spoils which he had taken (Hebrews 7:4.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And blessed be the most high God,.... Let his name be praised, and thanks be given to him for all mercies temporal and spiritual, since all flow from him, and particularly for the mercies Abram and others through him were now made partakers of; for whoever were the instruments, God was the efficient cause, and to him all the glory was to be given:
which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand; the four kings, who are called Abram's enemies, because the enemies of God and of true religion, and because they had been injurious to a relation of his; and especially they may be so called, if their intention was, as, say the Jewish writers (q) to slay him, beginning first with Lot: and those four kings, according to them, signify the four monarchies, the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman (r) who in their turns distressed his posterity, but in the latter day shall fall into their hands, as those did into Abram's, and fall by them:
and he gave him tithes of all; not Melchizedek to Abram, but Abram to Melchizedek, as appears from Hebrews 7:4; and these tithes were given not out of the goods that were recovered, for they were restored to the proprietors of them, but out of the spoils that were taken from the enemy, as is evident from the same place referred to; and these were given both as a return for the respect shown him by Melchizedek, and by way of thankfulness to God for the victory, whose priest he was; otherwise, as a king, he stood in no need of such a present; nor was it for his maintenance as a priest, or what Abram was obliged unto, but was a voluntary action, and not out of his own substance, but out of the spoils of the enemy, and to testify his gratitude to God: this was imitated by the Heathens in later times; so the Tarentines, having got a victory over the Peucetians, sent the tenth (of the spoil) to Delphos (s): the Jews (t) say Abraham was the first in the world that began to offer tithes; but they are mistaken, when they say in the same place, that he took all the tithes of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of Lot his brother's son, and gave them to Shem the son of Noah. Eupolemus (u) makes mention of this interview between Abram and Melchizedek by name; he says, Abram was hospitably entertained in the holy city Argarizin, which is by interpretation the mountain of the most High (but seems to be the Mount Gerizzim) and that he received gifts from Melchizedek, the priest of God, who reigned there.
(q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 27. (r) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 1.((s) Pausan. Phocica, sive l. 10. p. 633. (t) Pirke Eliezer, c. 27. (u) Apud Euseb. Evang. Praepar. l. 9. c. 17. p. 419.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. he gave him tithes of all—Here is an evidence of Abram's piety, as well as of his valor; for it was to a priest or official mediator between God and him that Abram gave a tenth of the spoil—a token of his gratitude and in honor of a divine ordinance (Pr 3:9).
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