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This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. ~He 7:1-3

Hebrews chapters five to eight, illustrates how Jesus’ priesthood was “more superior” and “more excellent” compared to the high priests of the Old Testament. The Old Testament priesthood was instituted by God and perpetually passed down through the descendants of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. Their roles included acting as intermediaries for the people in the offering of burnt sacrifices to God and in performing God-specific duties. These priestly duties were exclusive and could only be performed by Levites and by no other tribe. When the King of Judah, Uzziah, in his pride tried to offer up incense on the altar and overstepped the duties of the priests, God struck him with leprosy. Jesus was of the lineage of Judah, and thus He had no part in the Levitical priesthood. Therefore by quoting from the Old Testament, the author wanted the Hebrew Christians to know that Jesus was a high priest anointed outside the priesthood of the Levites, not according to the order of Aaron but according to the order of Melchizedek.

“Order” in the context meant manner, grade, class and quality. What were the differences then between Aaron’s and Melchizedek’s order? Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, the descendant of Abraham; when Abraham returned victorious from the battle at the Valley of Siddim, he offered a tenth of everything to Melchizedek. For if even Abraham – the forefather of the Levites — had to make an offering of a tenth to Melchizedek, how much more honourable he must have been! His priestly order clearly excelled that of the Levites and was far more superior.

Not only was Melchizedek the most excellent high priest, he was a king as well. From his name he was known as the king of righteousness and the king of peace. He was very similar to Christ in title, where Christ other than being known as the Great High Priest, He was also the King of Heaven, God’s Righteousness, and the Prince of Peace. The author continues to cite more similarities between Melchizedek and Jesus, the Son of God; that they were “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life.” Jesus was the eternal God, who existed even before He was incarnated in this world. With respect to His deity, He existed since the beginning of time and would never die; unlike man, He was without father or mother, without a beginning and without end.

Notably, from this very verse, debate arises – where some have taken a literal view of the verse by suggesting that Melchizedek was without a human father and mother, without a date of birth and without a date of decease. Some even went on speculating that he was the Old Testament Christ, reasoning that only God could have manifested these attributes. However, adopting such views would lead to more problems; for if Melchizedek was the Christ, Christ must have already been a high priest during Abraham’s time. But we find that all high priests needed to be selected from among man (Heb 5:1-2). Shouldn’t the Lord have to wait until He has become man just like us, before He could be made the high priest? Otherwise, how would He be able to understand our infirmities, to represent the people in matters relating to God? From the way in which Melchizedek had blessed Abraham, we could also observe that he was not the Christ. For when Melchizedek addressed God, it was done in a manner as how a man would have addressed Him: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Jesus as the Almighty God would not use words that do not correspond to His status. Within the whole of the Old Testament, Melchizedek was only mentioned briefly in two places, how could it be that the author of Hebrews from these passages alone deduced that he was without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life and was indeed the Christ?