Who is Melchizedek?

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In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek is introduced as the king of Salem and priest of God Most High (El Elyon). During the return home from war with the enemies of Sodom and prior to his meeting with the king of Sodom, Abram has an encounter with Melchizedek. During this encounter, Melchizedek brings out bread and wine and then proceeds to bless Abram. After being blessed, Abram gives Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils of the battle. Who was Melchizedek? Many scholars have pondered this question. Some scholars present him as a theophany of the reincarnate Christ while others identify him as a historical figure with varying viewpoints. John Skinner, Franz Delitzsch, and Moshe Reiss have written their position on the matter, which will be examined in this paper. JOHN SKINNER-LIBERAL John Skinner was a Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at the College of Presbyterian Church of England in Cambridge, England. According to the liberal perspective found in the classical work, Genesis (International Critical Commentary) Skinner interprets the passage as having poetic charm uniting the holy people and the holy city. Thus, Melchizedek is presented as a historical or traditional figure. Skinner begins his analysis of Melchizedek by noting the link between Salem, which Melchizedek is king, to Jerusalem. This gives Melchizedek credibility as actual king over Salem as “such priest-kings in Canaan in very early times is perfectly credible, though not historically attested.” Skinner admits however “it is more probable that M. is, if not a historical figure, at least a traditional figure of great antiquity, on whom the monarchy and hierarchy of Jerusalem based their dynastic and priestly rights.” Additionally, Skinner... ... middle of paper ... ...iority, and parallels can be drawn in the giving of bread and wine to Abram to that of Christ and his disciples. Thus, Melchizedek is seen as the one who points to Christ’s fulfillment as priest of the Most High God (El Elyon). Hebrews 7:2 says “and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also “king of Salem” means “king of peace” (NIV). Not only was Melchizedek superior to Abram but also his name is the name of Christ. In 1 John 2:1 Christ is know as the Righteous One, and in Ephesians 2:14 Christ is our Peace. Works Cited John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), p. 267. Franz Delitzsch, A New Commentary on Genesis: Vol. I (New York: Scribner & Welford, 1889), p. 409. Moshe Reiss, "The Melchizedek traditions." Sjot 26, no. 2: 259-265 (2012)

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