Friday, February 20, 2009
Who was Melchizedek?
Organized religions are often centered around a person or persons who are given a special status in relation to their associated deity. And then from this personage the word and/or direction of that deity is then given to everyone else. In many cases these personages are clouded in mystery so as to add to their mysterious aura or sense of hidden knowledge.
Melchizedek is one of these personages. And he is interesting in that he is associated not only with the Judaic belief system, but the Christian and Muslim belief systems which later stemmed from the Judaic religion.
To my knowledge, Melchizedek was the first priest mentioned in the Bible. (Genesis 14:18-20)
The Gnostic scriptures refer to him as Melchizedek the Supreme Paralemptor, which means "Light-Bringer or Light-Maker".
And in the Hebrew Bible Melchizedek is called the High Priest of El Elyon, YHVH, the Most High One.
We also find mention of Melchizedek in Psalms:"Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: you have the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn, and will not relent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Ps. 110:3-4)
Melchizedek is mentioned again in the New Testament book of Hebrews as the oldest priest of a higher order, more ancient and direct from God, than the Children of Israel (Levite) priesthood. A Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi in the Jewish tradition. The Levites served as assistants to the sons and descendants of the first chief priest, Aaron, at the Tabernacle in the wilderness and later at the Temple of Jerusalem.
In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus is repeatedly referred to as a High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek. And so it would appear that there was a pre-Christian priestly order, founded by this mysterious personage. And to add to this cacophony of identifications, the name Melchizedek, according to The Urantia Book is the one and the same as the Semitic God.
And yet in Genesis 14, Melchizedek is also referred to as King of Salem, ( which is generally believed to be ancient Jerusalem) the fortress city of the Jebusites, whose people worshipped him.
He was also said to have aided Abraham in his battles with the four kings who beseiged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
According to Numbers rabbah 4:8 Melchizedek acted as a priest and handed down Adam’s robes to Abraham. According to Rabbi Zechariah, the Semitic God intended to bring forth the priesthood through Melchizedek’s descendants, but because Melchizedek blessed Abraham before he blessed God, God brought the priesthood forth from Abraham’s descendants instead. (Leviticus Rabbah 25:6).
And so in Semitic tradition he is a holy man whose blessing resulted in great fortune for Abraham, while in Christianity his priesthood is seen as the forerunner of the Christian "new covenant," superseding that of the Levite priesthood.
But we're not done yet, he is also identified as the priest of El Elyon which translates as "most high God" in reference to the Hebrew god; Yahweh.
And as if this was not enough, some ancient rabbis identify Melchizedek with Shem son of Noah.
According to Genesis, Shem lived the age of 600 years (Gen. 11:10, 11). Therefore, his death took place 13 years after the death of Sarah and ten years after Rebecca and Isaac married. This literal interpretation of the biblical chronology leads some Christians, as well as several ancient rabbis, to believe that Shem might have been Melchizedek.
And so where does all of this lead us to?
Was Melchizedek a pseudonym for the Semitic God? Or was he in fact a religious enigma whose actions offended a jealous god? Of which said actions resulted in the alteration of the priestly lineage away from the Levites which opened the door for the Christian Jesus to become a High Priest in his own right.
In Hebrews 7:3, Paul says that Melchizedek was without father or mother, having no parents. Paul's statement suggests that Melchizedek was in fact a second male deity.
His comments were;
Every human, including Adam, has had a father (Luke 3:38). All the angels have the same father as Adam, and they are referred to many times in Scripture as sons of God. The One who became Jesus Christ is the father of all life except for one human life, His own. The Most High God is the Father of Jesus (Luke 1:32). But, God was not the father of Melchizedek. Paul is clearly saying that Melchizedek, like the Most High God, was without parents. Neither of them had beginning of days nor end of life. The two of them had always lived and there had never been a time that each of them had not lived. Melchizedek had always possessed life inherent. Life was not given to Him, He was not anyone's son.
And so can we assume that there was in fact two Gods present in the early Hebrew belief system. Could this second God have become persona non grata after the Babylon exile which in time led to the creation of the monotheist Christian and Muslim religions?
With the advent of the Babylon exile (586 BCE) the Judaic belief system became more determined to be a pure religion, could this have led to the expulsion of Melchizedek as a recognized deity within the Jewish pantheon?
Or lastly could Melchizedek (righteous King) have been a term used by a number of folks through the ages as it pertained to the religious politics of the time?
As with all religions and spiritual paths, the interpretations are in the hands of the one doing the interpreting. And on occasion such assumptions may actually border on the truth.
But far more often we make assumptions based on our personal feelings and/or comfort zone.
Do you have the answers as to who Melchizedek is?