Hebrews 7:1
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
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(1) For this Melchisedec.—The sentence is completed in the last words of Hebrews 7:3, . . . “abideth a priest continually;” the connection with the last chapter, therefore, is very clear. Of Melchizedek we know nothing beyond what we learn from the brief narrative of Genesis 14. A Jewish legend, preserved in the later Targums on the Pentateuch, but not in the Targum of Onkelos, identifies him with the patriarch Shem; and many conjectures of a later date (stimulated by the remarkable language of these verses) have been far wilder in their extravagance. It may be that the result of these speculations has been to invest this chapter with a mystery which does not belong to it. The object of the writer is, in reality, very simple—to deal with the question, What is the import of the divine utterance that David’s Lord is a “Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”? Not to take up the history of Melchizedek and allegorise each part, but to point out the full meaning of the comparison made in the prophecy, which declares the priesthood of the future King to be “after the order of Melchizedek—i.e., to be such as the priesthood of Melchizedek typically set forth. The first part of this sentence (Hebrews 7:1-2, as far as “. . . tenth part of all”) enumerates the known facts of the history of Melchizedek; the following clauses are occupied with the interpretation of the history, and with inferences from it. Of the facts recorded in Genesis none are passed over, except the gift of bread and wine; the blessing also is mentioned in general terms only. The language of the LXX. is, as a rule, closely followed throughout.

King of Salem.—Jewish tradition affirms strongly that this Salem occupied the site on which Jerusalem afterwards stood; and certainly Salem is a poetic name of Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2). This tradition, found in Josephus and in the earliest of the Targums, agrees well with the circumstances of the narrative as far as we can follow them, and seems to deserve acceptance. Jerome maintained that Salem was situated near Scythopolis, where in his day were pointed out ruins of “Melchizedek’s palace.” Another tradition (probably of Samaritan origin) makes Mount Gerizim the place of meeting, in which case the city of Melchizedek would probably be near Shechem.

The most high God.—A title characteristic of the narrative (Genesis 14:18-20; Genesis 14:22). Melchizedek is the first who in Scripture is spoken of as priest, and the name is given without explanation. As in the earliest times this office was held by the head of a family (Job 1), it is not remarkable to find a union of regal and sacerdotal functions in the same man.

Returning from the slaughter.—Rather, from the smiting, or defeat. According to the narrative in Genesis the meeting took place “after Abraham had returned” from the defeat of the king; but probably the meaning does not differ from that here given.

Hebrews 7:1. For, &c. — The apostle having promised to lead the believing Hebrews forward to the perfection of Christian knowledge, (Hebrews 6:1-4,) particularly with regard to the high-priesthood of Christ as typified by that of Melchisedec, which he had repeatedly mentioned, (namely, Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 6:20,) as a figure of it he proceeds now to fulfil his promise; and, in order thereto, points out the deep meaning of the oath recorded Psalm 110:4. And by accurately examining the particulars concerning Melchisedec, related in the Mosaic history, he shows that Melchisedec was a far more excellent priest than Aaron and all his sons, and consequently that Jesus, whom God had made a High-Priest for ever after the similitude of Melchisedec, exercised a priesthood both more acceptable to God, and more effectual for procuring the pardon of sin, than the priesthood which the sons of Aaron exercised under the law. For the design of the apostle in this chapter is not to declare the nature or the exercise of the priesthood of Christ, though occasionally mentioned; having spoken of the former, chap. 5., and intending to treat of the latter at large afterward, which he does chap. 9. But it is of its excellence and dignity that he discourses here, and yet not absolutely, but in comparison with the Levitical priesthood, which method was both necessary, and directly conducive to his end. For if the priesthood of Christ were not so excellent as that of Aaron, it was to no purpose to persuade them to embrace the former, and reject the latter. This, therefore, he designs to prove upon principles avowed among themselves, by arguments taken from what had been received and acknowledged in the Jewish Church from the first foundation of it. To this end he shows, that antecedently to the giving of the law, and the institution of the Levitical priesthood, God had, without any respect thereto, given a typical prefiguration of this priesthood of Christ, in one who was on all accounts superior to the future Levitical priests. This sacred truth, which had been hid for so many ages in the church, and which undeniably manifests the certain future introduction of another and better priesthood, is here brought to light by the apostle and improved. For this Melchisedec — Of whom Moses speaks, Genesis 14:18, &c., (the passage to which David refers,) was king of Salem — “According to Josephus, (Antiq. lib. 1. cap. 11,) Salem, the city of Melchisedec, was Jerusalem. But according to Jerome, who says he received his information from some learned Jews, it was the town which is mentioned Genesis 33:18, as a city of Shechem, and which is spoken of (John 3:23) as near to Enon, where John baptized. This city being in Abraham’s way, as he returned from Damascus to Sodom, after the slaughter of the kings, many are of Jerome’s opinion, that the northern Salem was Melchisedec’s city rather than Jerusalem, which was situated farther to the south.” Priest of the most high God — This title given him by Moses, and here taken notice of by the apostle, implies that he had been appointed to that office in a solemn and public manner; and, of consequence, “that there was a priest divinely appointed to officiate for the worshippers of the true God in Canaan, long before the days of Aaron, and before God formed to himself a visible church from any particular family or nation of mankind. The Hebrew word, indeed, translated a priest, sometimes signifies a prince, but the historian hath removed the ambiguity by adding the words, of the most high God.” Who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings — Who had taken Lot prisoner, with the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the neighbouring cities of the plain; and blessed him — Pronounced on him a blessing in the name of God, to whom he ministered; and in his manner of blessing him showed himself to be a priest of the only true God, his words being, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.

7:1-3 Melchizedec met Abraham when returning from the rescue of Lot. His name, King of Righteousness, doubtless suitable to his character, marked him as a type of the Messiah and his kingdom. The name of his city signified Peace; and as king of peace he typified Christ, the Prince of Peace, the great Reconciler of God and man. Nothing is recorded as to the beginning or end of his life; thus he typically resembled the Son of God, whose existence is from everlasting to everlasting, who had no one that was before him, and will have no one come after him, in his priesthood. Every part of Scripture honours the great King of Righteousness and Peace, our glorious High Priest and Saviour; and the more we examine it, the more we shall be convinced, that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.For this Melchisedek; - compare the notes on Hebrews 5:6. The name Melchizedek, from which the apostle derives a portion of his argument here, is Hebrew, מלכי־צדק Malkiy-Tsedeq, and is correctly explained as meaning "king of righteousness" - being compounded of two words - "king and righteousness." Why this name was given to this man is unknown. Names, however, were frequently given on account of some quality or characteristic of the man: see the notes on Isaiah 8:18. This name may have been given on account of his eminent integrity. The apostle calls attention to it Hebrews 7:2 as a circumstance worthy of notice, that his name, and the name of the city where he reigned, were so appropriate to one who, as a priest, was the predecessor of the Messiah. The account of Melchizedek, which is very brief, occurs in Genesis 14:18-20. The name occurs in the Bible only in Genesis 14, Psalm 110:4, and in this Epistle. Nothing else is certainly known of him.

Grotius supposes that he is the same man who in the history of Sanchoniathon is called Συδύκ Suduk. It has indeed been made a question by some whether such a person ever actually existed, and consequently whether this be a proper name. But the account in Genesis is as simple a historical record as any other in the Bible. In that account there is no difficulty whatever. It is said simply that when Abraham was returning from a successful military expedition, this man, who it seems was well known, and who was respected as a priest of God, came out to express his approbation of what he had done, and to refresh him with bread and wine. As a tribute of gratitude to him, and as a thank-offering to God, Abraham gave him a tenth part of the spoils which he had taken. Such an occurrence was by no means improbable, nor would it have been attended with any special difficulty if it had not been for the use which the apostle makes of it in this Epistle. Yet on no subject has there been a greater variety of opinion than in regard to this man.

The bare recital of the opinions which have been entertained of him would fill a volume. But in a case which "seems" to be plain from the Scripture narrative, it is not necessary even to enumerate these opinions. They only serve to show how easy it is for people to mystify a clear statement of history, and how fond they are of finding what is mysterious and marvelous in the plainest narrative of facts. That he was Shem, as the Jews suppose, or that he was the Son of God himself, as many Christian expositors have maintained, there is not the slightest evidence. That the latter opinion is false is perfectly clear - for if he were the Son of God, with what propriety could the apostle say that he "was made like the Son of God" Hebrews 7:3; that is, like himself; or that Christ was constituted a priest "after the order of Melchisedek;" that is, that he was a type of himself? The most simple and probable opinion is that given by Josephus, that he was a pious Canaanitish prince; a personage eminently endowed by God, and who acted as the priest of his people.

That he combined in himself the offices of priest and king, furnished to the apostle a beautiful illustration of the offices sustained by the Redeemer, and was in this respect, perhaps, the only one whose history is recorded in the Old Testament, who would furnish such an illustration. That his genealogy was not recorded, while that of every other priest mentioned was so carefully traced and preserved, furnished another striking illustration. In this respect, like the Son of God, he stood alone. He was not in a "line" of priests; he was preceded by no one in the sacerdotal office, nor was he followed by any. That he was superior to Abraham. and consequently to all who descended from Abraham; that a tribute was rendered to him by the great Ancestor of all the fraternity of Jewish priests was just an illustration which suited the purpose of Paul. His name, therefore, the place where he reigned, his solitariness, his lone conspicuity in all the past, his dignity, and perhaps the air of mystery thrown over him in the brief history in Genesis, furnished a beautiful and striking illustration of the solitary grandeur, and the inapproachable eminence of the priesthood of the Son of God. There is no evidence that Melchizedek was "designed" to be a type of the Messiah, or that Abraham so understood it, Nothing of this kind is affirmed; and how shall "we" affirm it when the sacred oracles are silent?

(Doubtless great care and sobriety are requisite in the interpretation of types, and we admire the caution that, in every instance, demands the authority of Scripture, expressed or distinctly implied. From want of this caution, the greatest extravagancies have been committed, the most fanciful analogies established, where none were intended, and every minute circumstance in the Old Testament exalted into a type of something in the New. The very boards and nails of the tabernacle of Moses have been thus exalted.

Yet in our just aversion to one extreme, it is possible we may run into another. Of the typical character of Melchizedek, we had thought no doubt could be entertained. The canon of typical interpretation, indeed, demands, that in order to constitute the relation between type and antitype, there be, in addition to mere resemblance, "precious design," and "pre-ordained connection." And the commentary affirms, that "there is no evidence, that Melchizedek was designed to be a type of the Messiah, or that Abraham so understood it." Let it be observed in reply, that in the Psalm 110:1 Psalm the typical character of Melchizedek "seems" expressly acknowledged. It may be alleged, that the prophet simply states resemblance, without affirming that such resemblance was designed or intended. But that a prophet should be commissioned to declare, that Christ's priesthood should be "after such an order," and yet that in the institution of that exalted order there should have been no designed reference to Christ, is improbable.

The prediction seems to involve the original design. And this order of priesthood, too, is far superior to that of Aaron, the typical character of which is admitted. Moreover, the last clause of verse third, in this chapter, according to our English translation as a designed connection. Melchizedek was "made like unto the Son of God." The translation is accurate. Ἀφομοιωμενος Aphomoiōmenos, according to Parkhurst, is "made very like." So also Scott: "The composition is probably intended to add energy; made very like." And Bloomfield adopts, "being made by the divine decree a type of that great High Priest, who, &c,;" see the notes in Greek Testament. Lastly, on any other principle than that of "designed" typical relation, it is difficult, if not impossible, to give any just account of the remarkable omissions, the apparently studied silence, in the history of Melchizedek, in regard to those things that are commonly related in notices of lives, however brief.

He is introduced to us with an air of impenetrable mystery. He appears on the stage as Priest of the most High God, and then disappears, leaving us in complete darkness concerning his birth, parentage, and death. "In all these respects," says Mr. Scott, "the silence of the Scripture is intentional and refers to the great antitype." Melchizedek, therefore, we may remark, seems not only to have been designed as a type, but "special care" has been taken, that the record of him should be in all things suited to that design. That the apostle lighted on a happy coincidence, deserving of a passing thought, is not probable, whether this remark be meant to apply to the name, or to other particulars in this remarkable story. Indeed, divest it of its designed typical character, and the grandeur of the passage vanishes. A simple resemblance has been discovered between Christ and a certain character in the old Testament. This is all the apostle means to affirm! And for this too, he introduces Melchizedek, with such wondrous caution in Hebrews 5:11; "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, but ye are dull of hearing." What was hard to be uttered, or difficult to be comprehended about a mere "illustration," or "resemblance?"

The following remarks of Owen are pertinent and beautiful. "The true cause of all these omissions was the same with that of the institution of his (Melchizedek's) priesthood, and the introduction of his person into the story. And this was, that he might he the more express and signal representative of the Lord Christ in his priesthood. And we may herein consider the sovereign wisdom of the Holy Spirit in bringing forth truth unto light, according as the state and condition of the church doth require. And first he prophesieth only a naked story of a person that was a type of Christ. Something the people of the age wherein he lived, might learn by his ministrations, but not much. For what was principally instructive in him, for the use of the church, was not of force until all his circumstances were forgotten. Yea, the contrivance of any tradition concerning his parents, birth, and death, had been contrary to the mind of God, and what instruction he intended the church by him.

Afterward, when, it may be, all thoughts of any use or design in this story were lost, and the church was fully satisfied in a priesthood quite of another nature, the Holy Spirit in one word of prophecy instructs her, not only that the things spoken concerning Melchizedek were not so recorded for his own sake, or on his own account, but with respect to another priest, which was afterward to arise, by him represented. This gave a new consideration to the whole story; but moreover gave the church to know, that the priesthood, which it then had, was not always to continue, but that one of another nature was to be introduced, as was signified long before the institution of that priesthood which they enjoyed, Psalm 110:4. Yet the church was left greatly in the dark, and, at the coming of our Saviour, had utterly lost all knowledge of the mystery of the type, and the promise renewed in the Psalm. Wherefore, our apostle entering on the unfolding of this mystery, doth not only preface it with an assertion of its difficulty, but also by a long previous discourse, variously prepareth their minds to a most diligent attention."

The excellence of this quotation will, in the reader's estimation, excuse the length of it. On the whole, he who reflects how all things in the ancient economy were ordered of God, and how great a part of that economy was meant to adumbrate the realities of the gospel, while he will be cautious in admitting typical analogies of a doubtful kind, will be slow to believe that the resemblance between Christ's priesthood, and that of the "most" exalted order previously instituted, is casual, or undesigned - slow to believe, that the apostle would make so large use of such accidental analogy, and found on it an argument so great.)

King of Salem - Such is the record in Genesis 14:18. The word "Salem" - שׁלם shalēm - means "peace;" and from this fact the apostle derives his illustration in Hebrews 7:2. He regards it as a fact worth remarking on, that the "name" of the place over which he ruled expressed so strikingly the nature of the kingdom over which the Messiah was placed. In regard to the "place" here denoted by the name "Salem," the almost uniform opinion has been that it was that afterward known as Jerusalem. The reasons for this opinion are,

(1) that it is a part of the name Jerusalem itself - the name "Jerus," altered from "Jebus," having been afterward added, because it was the residence of the "Jebusites."

(2) the name "Salem" is itself given to Jerusalem; Psalm 76:2, "In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion."



Heb 7:1-28. Christ's High Priesthood after the Order of Melchisedec Superior to Aaron's.

1. this Melchisedec—(Heb 6:20; Ps 110:4). The verb does not come till Heb 7:3, "abideth."

king … priest—Christ unites these offices in their highest sense, and so restores the patriarchal union of these offices.

Salem—Jerusalem, that is, seeing peace; others make Salem distinct, and to be that mentioned (Ge 33:18; Joh 3:23).

the most high God—called also "Possessor of heaven and earth" (Ge 14:19, 22). This title of God, "the Most High," handed down by tradition from the primitive revelation, appears in the Phœnician god "Elion," that is, Most High. It is used to imply that the God whom Melchisedec served is THE TRUE God, and not one of the gods of the nations around. So it is used in the only other cases in which it is found in the New Testament, namely in the address of the demoniac, and the divining damsel constrained to confess that her own gods were false, and God the only true God.

who met Abraham—in company with the king of Sodom (Ge 14:17, 18).

slaughter—perhaps defeat, as Alford translates. So Ge 14:17 (compare Ge 14:15) may be translated. Arioch, king of Ellasar, lived and reigned after the disaster [Bengel]. However, if Chedorlaomer and Amraphel and Tidal were slain, though Arioch survived, "slaughter of the kings" would be correct.

blessed him—As priest he first blessed Abraham on God's part; next he blessed God on Abraham's part: a reciprocal blessing. Not a mere wish, but an authoritative and efficacious intercession as a priest. The Most High God's prerogative as "Possessor of heaven and earth," is made over to Abraham; and Abraham's glory, from his victory over the foe, is made over to God. A blessed exchange for Abraham (Ge 14:19, 20).Hebrews 7:1-10 Christ, a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, is

proved to be of a more excellent order than that of

Aaron, from the character of Melchisedec, and his

confessed superiority to Abraham and Levi,

Hebrews 7:11-19 from the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood, which

induced the necessity of a change to one more perfect,

Hebrews 7:20-22 from the confirmation of Christ’s priesthood by an oath,

Hebrews 7:23-25 from the unchangeableness,

Hebrews 7:26-28 and spotless innocence, of the person.

The Spirit now proceedeth to prove, that the gospel High Priest is of a far more excellent order than that of Aaron’s, by his being of the order of Melchisedec, of witore they had read, and whom they had in great esteem, and after whose order they were assured, by the prophet David, another Priest was to rise up in the church, rendering Aaron’s priesthood useless, and continuing the only means of reconciling sinners, and bringing them to eternal life, to whom they must cleave. He initiates it with a description of the state of Melchisedec’s order, from Hebrews 7:1-10; and then proceeds to apply it to Christ, from Hebrews 7:11-28. Having asserted, Hebrews 6:20, that Jesus was made from eternity

a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and declared to be so by his entrance within the veil in heaven at his ascension, he reasoneth it out by showing what this Melchisedec was. The person pointed at by this name, is mentioned only once by Moses, and that in Genesis 14:18-20. It is certain he was a man who lived by bread and wine, as well as Abraham, and received tithes from him becoming a man. His place of residence was Salem, afterwards called Jerusalem, in the land of Canaan, Joshua 10:1. The Jews conceived him to be Shem, the second son of Noah, which this scripture denieth, for his genealogy is well known in it. That he descended from Ham, third son of Noah, because an inhabitant in Canaan, and that his name, Melchisedec, was the common name of the princes of that country, whose metropolis was first called Tsedec, then Salem, then Jerusalem, because the king of it in Joshua’s time was named Adoni-zedec, which is synonymous with this, is all conjectural. This is certain, he was king of Salem, endowed with royal power, such as the other kings in Canaan had. The capital seat in his kingdom was Salem, the name likely of both his city and territory; not that Salem of the Sichemites, Genesis 33:18, afterwards called Shechem, demolished and sown with salt by Abimelech, Judges 9:34,45; in John the Baptist’s time raised again, and called Salem, John 3:23. But Salem mentioned Psalm 76:2, more known by its famous appellation, Jerusalem. This shows him to be a man, as doth his next title.

Priest of the most high God: his authority in matters of religion, as a prime minister about holy things between God and men, and therefore a man, as Hebrews 5:1, set up by the most high God for himself, and consecrated in his order of priesthood by him, which should most illustriously set out that of his own Son. He managed all as a priest between his own people and the great God, ruling of them in all matters civil, and teaching and ordering them in all sacred things.

Who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings: he went from Jerusalem with necessary refreshings to meet Abraham, the friend of God, the father of believers, a prince and a priest himself, and of whose posterity was to come the Messiah, now returning from his victory over Chedorlaomer and his confederate kings, with the rescue of his nephew, and all his, to his tents at Mamre. As he was passing near Salem, Melchisedec meets him, and entertains him, Genesis 14:13-20.

And blessed him: it was an act of his sacerdotal office, such as God enjoined on such officers afterwards in Numbers 6:23-27, and not a common wish and desire only. The matter of blessing is laid down, Genesis 14:19. It was in God’s name, by his commission, effectually denounced on Abraham by virtue of his office and God’s institution; the height of God and all the good in heaven and in earth within God’s possession is conveyed to him, Genesis 15:1, of seeing, denoting it to be such a serious and intent act, as calls for the utmost exercise of the discerning faculty; a carelessness in it, or an oversight, might make the proposal to be to no purpose. The greatness of this high priest is what he sets in their view, and that indefinitely: How great is this officer! Intimating him to be somewhat excessive to other great ones: and how much greater then must be Christ, if his type be so great! Beyond not only Abraham, Levi, and his posterity, but this great Melchisedec, as to his sacerdotal power and dignity.

Unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils: this greatness is evinced by Abraham’s (the patriarch, chief of all the fathers of Israel, whom the Hebrews esteemed above all others, John 8:53, and God owns as his friend, and sets all believers under his fatherhood) giving, as a due to Melchisedec, being the greater person in office, the tenth of all the spoils, that which was due to God, and paid to him as God’s high priest: akroyiniwn notes either the first or choicest of the heaps of grains, especially the first-fruits dedicated to God; but here signifieth that part of the spoils which, according to the custom of war in most nations, after the victory, were offered to God as his part, whether they did consist of persons or things: the tenth part of these were given by him to, Melchisedec, as the greatest priest of God in the world, and superior to himself.

For this Melchisedec, king of Salem,.... Various have been the opinions of writers concerning Melchizedek; some have thought him to be more than a man; some, that he was an angel; others, that he was the Holy Ghost; and others, that he was a divine person superior to Christ, which needs no refutation; others have supposed that he was the Son of God himself: but he is expressly said to be like unto him, and Christ is said to be of his order; which manifestly distinguish the one from the other; besides, there is nothing said of Melchizedek which proves him to be more than a man: accordingly others take him to have been a mere man; but these are divided; some say that he was Shem, the son of Noah, which is the constant opinion of the Jewish writers (z): but it is not true of him, that he was without father, and without mother, an account of his descent being given in Scripture; nor is it probable that he should be a king of a single city in Ham's country, and Abraham be a stranger there: others say, that he was a Canaanitish king, of the posterity of Ham; others affirm him to be a perfect sinless man, and that all that is said of him in Genesis, and in this context, is literally true of him; but that he should be immediately created by God, as Adam, and be without sin as he, are things entirely without any foundation: others take him to be a mere man, but an extraordinary one, eminently raised up by God to be a type of the Messiah; and think it most proper not to inquire curiously who he was, since the Scripture is silent concerning his genealogy and descent; and that as it should seem on purpose, that he might be a more full and fit type of Christ; and this sense appears best and safest. Aben Ezra says, his name signifies what he was, the king of a righteous place: Salem, of which he was king, was not Shalem, a city of Shechem, in the land of Canaan, Genesis 33:18 afterwards called Salim, near to which John was baptizing, John 3:23 where is shown the palace of Melchizedek in its ruins, which cannot be, since that city was laid to the ground, and sowed with salt by Abimelech, Judges 9:45 but Jerusalem is the place; which is the constant opinion of the Jews (a), and is called Salem in Psalm 86:2. The interpretation of this word is given in the next verse; some of the Jewish writers referred to say, that it was usual for the kings of Jerusalem to be called Melchizedek and Adonizedek, as in Joshua 10:3 just as the kings of Egypt were called Pharaoh. This king was also

priest of the most high God, as he is said to be, Genesis 14:18 for he was both king and priest, in which he was an eminent type of Christ; and his being a king is no objection to his being a priest, since it was usual for kings to be priests; and though the Hebrew word "Cohen" sometimes signifies a prince, it cannot be so understood here, not only because the word is rendered "priest" by the Septuagint, and by the apostle, but because he is called the priest of God; and Christ is said to be of his order: and he is styled the priest of God, because he was called and invested by him with this office, and was employed in his service; who is said to be the most high God, from his dwelling on high, and from his superior power to all others, and to distinguish him from idol gods; this is a character of great honour given to Melchizedek;

who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings; the four kings, whose names are mentioned in Genesis 14:1 whom Abraham slew, and over whom he got an entire victory, with only three hundred and eighteen men of his own house, after they had conquered the kings of Sodom, Gomorrha, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela: which shows that war is lawful; that enemies may be slain in war; that kings may fall as well as other men; and that those who have conquered others, may be conquered themselves: and as he was returning with his spoils, Melchizedek met him; not alone, which is not to be supposed of so great a person; nor empty, for he brought with him bread and wine, not for sacrifice, as the Papists would have it; but as Jarchi, a Jewish interpreter on the place observes, they used to do so to such as were fatigued in war; for this is to be considered as a neighbourly action, done in point of interest and gratitude, and was a truly Christian one, and very laudable and commendable; and doubtless had something in it typical of Christ, who gives to hungry and weary saints the bread of life, and refreshes them with the wine of divine love and grace:

and blessed him; Abraham, and the most high God also: the form of blessing both is recorded in Genesis 14:19. This was not a mere civil salutation, nor only a congratulation upon his success, nor only a return of thanks for victory, though these things are included; nor did he do this as a private person, but as the priest of the most high God, and blessed him in his name authoritatively, as the high priest among the Jews afterwards did, Numbers 6:23 and in this he was a type of Christ, who blesses his people with all spiritual blessings, with redemption, justification, pardon, peace, and all grace, and with eternal glory.

(Gill changed his mind on the location of Salam when he later wrote the Old Testament portion of the Expositor. See Gill on Genesis 14:18. Ed.)

(z) Targum in Jon. & Jerus. Jarchi, Baal Hatturim, Levi ben Gersom & Abendana in Genesis 14.18. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 4. fol. 182. 4. Pirke Eliezer, c. 8. Juchasin, fol. 135. 2. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 16. 2. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 1. 2. Peritzol. Itinera Mundi, p. 17. (a) Targ. Onk. Jon. & Jerus. Levi ben Gersom, Aben Ezra & ben Melec in Genesis 14.18. Tosaphot T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 16. 1.

For this {1} Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and {a} blessed him;

(1) Declaring those words, According to the order of Melchizedek upon which the comparison of the priesthood of Christ with the Levitical priesthood rests: first, Melchizedek himself is considered to be the type of Christ and these are the points of that comparison. Melchizedek was a king and a priest, as is Christ alone. He was a king of peace and righteousness as is Christ alone.

(a) With a solemn and priestly blessing.

Hebrews 7:1-3. Elucidation of κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, Hebrews 6:20, by a delineation of the character of Melchisedec. Hebrews 7:1-3 form a single proposition, in which μένει, is the tempus finitum. The characterization of Melchisedec combines in the first half (βασιλεὺς Σαλὴμἐμέρισεν Ἀβραάμ, Hebrews 7:2) the historic traits which are afforded of him in Genesis (Genesis 14:18-20), while in the second half (πρῶτον μὲν κ.τ.λ.) the author himself completes the picture of Melchisedec, in reasoning from that historic delineation.

βασιλεὺς Σαλήμ] king of Salem. By Salem is understood, on the part of the Targumists, Josephus, Antiq. i. 10. 2, the majority of the Church Fathers, Grotius, Drusius, Owen, Michaelis, Gesenius, von Bohlen, Winer, Realwörterb. II. 2 Aufl. p. 95, Stuart, Stengel, Tholuck, Bloomfield, Knobel, Bisping, Delitzsch, Auberlen, Moll, Kurtz, Hofmann, and others, Jerusalem. On the other hand, Primasius, Zeger, Jac. Cappellus, Whitby, Cellarius, Reland, Rosenmüller, Bleek (see, however, at Hebrews 7:2), Tuch, Ewald, Alford, Maier, and others think of the place Σαλείμ, mentioned John 3:23, situated eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis. The latter was, as we learn from Jerome (Ep. 126, ad Evagrium), the view already espoused in his day by the “eruditissimi” among the Hebrews, in opposition to “Josephus et nostri omnes,” as accordingly also it was thought that the ruins of the palace of Melchisedec were still to be shown at the last-named place in the time of Jerome. This Σαλείμ, mentioned John 3:23, has, moreover, been held by some recent expositors, as Bleek and Alford, to be likewise identical with the Σαλήμ, Jdt 4:4. More correct, however, is the first-named view. For, besides the earlier name Jebus for Jerusalem (Jdg 19:10, al.), occurs also the early name Salem (Psalm 76:3 [2]), and the narrative in Genesis 14:17 ff.) points unmistakeably to the southern part of the land. Comp. specially Knobel, Genesis , 2 Aufl., Leipz. 1860, p. 149 f.

ἱερεὺς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου] priest of God, the Most High. In the monotheistic sense, as in Genesis, vid. ibid. Hebrews 7:22.

ὁ συναντήσας Ἀβραὰμ κ.τ.λ.] who went to meet Abraham when he was returning from the smiting of the kings (Genesis 14:12 ff.), and blessed him.

καὶ εὐλογήσας αὐτόν] Genesis 14:19-20. Wrongly is it alleged by Heinrichs that εὐλογεῖν denotes only: gratulari de victoria tam splendida.

Hebrews 7:1-10.[80] While the author now in reality passes over to the work of developing the high-priesthood after the manner of Melchisedec, proper to Christ, and consequently of illustrating upon every side the pre-eminence of the same above the Levitical high-priesthood, he dwells first of all upon the person of Melchisedec himself, in that, following the thread of the Scripture narrative, he brings vividly before his readers the exaltedness of Melchisedec’s position, and draws their attention to a threefold superiority of Melchisedec over the Levitical priests.

[80] C. A. Auberlen, “Melchisedek’s ewiges Leben und Priesterthum Hebrews 7” (Stud. u. Krit. 1857, H. 3, p. 453 ff.).

Hebrews 7:1-3. Description of Melchizedek as he appears on the page of Scripture, in five particulars with their interpretation.

1. For this Melchisedec] All that is historically known of Melchisedek is found in three verses of the book of Genesis (Genesis 14:18-20). In all the twenty centuries of sacred history he is only mentioned once, in Psalm 110:4. This chapter is a mystical explanation of the significance of these two brief allusions. It was not wholly new, since the Jews attached high honour to the name of Melchisedek, whom they identified with Shem, and Philo had already spoken of Melchisedek as a type of the Logos (De Leg, Alleg. iii. 25, Opp. i. 102).

king of Salem] Salem is probably a town near Shechem. It is the same which is mentioned in Genesis 33:18 (though there the words rendered “to Shalem” may mean “in safety”), and in John 3:23; and it is the Salumias of Jdt 4:4. This is the view of Jerome, who in his Onomasticon places it eight miles south of Bethshean. The site is marked by a ruined well still called Sheikh Salim (Robinson, Bibl. Res. iii. 333). In Jerome’s time the ruins of a large palace were shewn in this place as “the palace of Melchisedek;” and this agrees with the Samaritan tradition that Abraham had been met by Melchisedek not at Jerusalem but at Gerizim. The same tradition is mentioned by Eupolemos (Euseb. Praep. Evang. ix. 17. See Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 237). The more common view has been that Salem is a shortened form of Jerusalem, but this is very improbable; for (1) only a single instance of this abbreviation has been adduced, and that only as a poetic license in a late Psalm which the LXX. describe as “A Psalm with reference to the Assyrian” (Psalm 76:2). (2) Even this instance is very dubious, for (α) the Psalmist may be intending to contrast the sanctuary of Melchisedek with that of David; or (β) even here the true rendering may be “His place has been made in peace” as the Vulgate renders it. (3) Jerusalem in the days of Abraham, and for centuries afterwards was only known by the name Jebus. (4) The typical character of Melchisedek would be rather impaired than enhanced by his being a king at Jerusalem, for that was the holy city of the Aaronic priesthood of which he was wholly independent, being a type of One in whose priesthood men should worship the Father in all places alike if they offered a spiritual worship. We must then regard Salem as being a different place from Jerusalem, if any place at all is intended. For though both the Targums and Josephus (Antt. i. 10 § 2) here identify Salem with Jerusalem, the Bereshith Rabba interprets the word Salem as an appellative, and says that it means “Perfect King,” and that this title was given to him because he was circumcised (see Wünsche, Bibl. Rabbinica. Beresh. Rabba, p. 198). Philo too says “king of peace, for that is the meaning of Salem” (Leg. Alleg, iii. 25, comp. Isaiah 9:5; Colossians 1:20). Nothing depends on the solution of the question, for in any case the fact that “Salem” means “peace” or “peaceful” is pressed into the typology. But the Salem near Sichem was itself in a neighbourhood hallowed by reminiscences scarcely less sacred than those of Jerusalem. Besides this connexion with the name of Melchisedek, it was the place where Jacob built the altar El-Elohe-Israel; the scene of John’s baptism; and the region in which Christ first revealed Himself to the woman of Samaria as the Messiah.

priest of the most high God] The union of Royalty and Priesthood in the same person gave him peculiar sacredness (“He shall be a Priest upon His throne” (Zechariah 6:13). “Rex Anius, rex idem hominum, Phoebique sacerdos” (Virg. Aen. iii. 80 and Servius ad loc.). The expression “God most high” is El Elîôn, and this was also a title of God among the Phoenicians. It is however certain that Moses meant that Melchisedek was a Priest of God, for though this is the earliest occurrence of the name El Elîôn it is afterwards combined with “Jehovah” in Genesis 14:22, and in other parts of the Pentateuch and the Psalms. There is no difficulty in supposing that the worship of the One True God was not absolutely confined to the family of Abraham. The longevity of the early Patriarchs facilitated the preservation of Monotheism at least among some tribes of mankind, and this perhaps explains the existence of the name Elîon among the Phoenicians (Philo Byblius ap. Euseb. Praep. Evang. i. 10).

who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings] Amraphel king of Shinar, with three allies, had made war on Bera king of Sodom with four allies, and had carried away plunder and captives from the Cities of the Plain. Among the captives was Lot. Abraham therefore armed his 318 servants, and with the assistance of three Canaanite chiefs, Aner, Mamre, and Eshcol, pursued Amraphel’s army to the neighbourhood of Damascus, defeated them, rescued their prisoners, and recovered the spoil. The word here rendered “slaughter” (kopç from kopto “cut”) may perhaps mean no more than “smiting,” i.e. defeat. On his return the king of Sodom going forth to greet and thank him met him at “the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale,” a place of which nothing is known, but which was probably somewhere in the tribe of Ephraim near mount Gerizim. This seems to have been in the little domain of Melchisedek for we are not told that “he went forth to meet” Abraham, but only that (being apparently at the place where Bera met Abraham) he humanely and hospitably brought out bread and wine for the weary victors, and blessed Abraham, and blessed God for granting him the victory. In acknowledgment of this friendly blessing, Abraham “gave him tithes of all,” i.e. of all the spoils.

and blessed him] Evidently as a priestly act. Genesis 14:19-20.

Hebrews 7:1. Οὗτος) The subject, namely, This man, who is mentioned ch. Hebrews 6:20 from the psalm, and the same who is mentioned in Genesis. The Predicate is, Hebrews 7:3, ἀπάτωρεἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς, without father—for ever. The summary of this chapter is: Christ, as is shown by the type Melchisedec, who was greater than Abraham himself, from whom Levi is descended, has a priesthood truly excellent, new, perfect, stedfast, everlasting.—βασιλεὺςἱερεὺς, king—priest) Christ is also both.—ἱερεὺς τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑψίστου) So the LXX., Genesis 14:18; that is, Priest of the Most High GOD.—ὁ συναντήσας Ἀβραὰμ ὑποστρέφοντι ἀπὸ τῆς κοπῆς) The LXX., ibid. Hebrews 7:17, ἐξῆλθε δὲ βασιλεὺς Σοδόμων εἰς συνάντησιν αὐτῷ μετὰ τὸ ὑποστρέψαι αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῆς κοπῆς, κ.τ.λ. In the Ordo Temporum, p. 176, I have taken τὴν κοπὴν, in the strict sense, for the slaughter and destruction of the kings; but the meaning, flight, is also one consistent with the word הכות (LXX. κοπὴ), Genesis 14:17; comp. Hebrews 7:15. Therefore this passage does not prevent us from believing that Arioch, king of Ellasar, lived and reigned after the disaster. There I did not venture to affirm that Arioch is the same as Arius, and I am less disposed to do so now. To such a degree is the antiquity of the Assyrians uncertain abroad, which L. Offerhaus speciously discusses in the second book of his Spicilegia.—εὐλογήσας) LXX. εὐλόγησε.

Verses 1-3. - 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; to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (this description belongs to the subject of the sentence, being merely a recapitulation of the facts recorded in Genesis, the language of the LXX. being used; what follows belongs properly to the predicate, being of the nature of a comment on the facts recorded); first, being by interpretation King of righteousness (which is the meaning of the name Melchizedek), and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace (the very names of himself and his kingdom are significant (cf. Psalm 85:10; Psalm 72:3; Isaiah 32:17; Romans 5:1); where righteousness and peace are the characteristics of the Messiah's kingdom; this significance, however, is not afterwards made a point of, being merely noticed by the way); without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. It is this language especially that has been supposed to involve something more than human about the historical Melchizedek. But we have only to enter into the mind of the writer to see that it is not so. For it is the ideal of the psalm, conceived as suggested by the historical type, that gives its color to the language used. And, indeed, how strangely suggestive is that fragment about the priestly king (Genesis 14:18-21) so unexpectedly interposed in the life of Abraham! In the midst of a history in which such a point is made of the parentage and descent of the patriarchs of Israel, at a time of peculiar glory of the first and greatest of them, one suddenly appears on the scene, a priest and king, not of the peculiar race at all, his parentage and ancestry unrecorded and unknown, who blesses and receives tithes from Abraham, and then as suddenly disappears from view. We hear no more of him; as about his origin, so about his end, Scripture is silent. And so he "abides" before the mind's eye, apart from any before or after, the type of an unchanging priesthood. For the meaning of the word ἀγενεαλόγητος (in itself denoting the absence, not of ancestors, but of a traced genealogy), cf. ver. 6, 6 ὁ δὴ μὴ γενεαλογούμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν. That of ἀπάτωρ, ἀμήτωρ, is illustrated by the Latin expression, "Nullis majoribus ortus." On "made like (ὁμοιούμενος) unto the Son of God," Chrysostom says, "We know of no beginning or end in either case; in the one, because none are recorded; in the other, because they do not exist." The idea seems to be that Melchizedek is thus assimilated to Christ in the sacred record, by what it leaves untold no less than by what it tells. It is not said that he is like him (ὁμοίος), but made like (ὁμοιούμενος); i.e. represented in such wise as to resemble him. It may be here remarked that, though the term "Son of God" is used in the Epistle generally to denote the Messiah as manifested in time, his essential eternal being is here, as elsewhere, distinctly intimated; also that "the Son of God" is regarded as the archetype of the comparison: "Non dicitur Filius DEI assimilatus Melchizedeko, sed contra; nam Filius DEI est antiquior et archetypus" (Bengel). Hebrews 7:1For this Melchisedec, etc.

See Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110:1-7.

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