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Old 10-30-2001, 03:34 PM   #11
Tercel
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I'm getting sidetracked completely here, but a part which interested me was this:
Melchizedek strengthened Abraham by the offering of bread and wine which in the communion service are the symbols of the body and the blood, the life of the Lord Jesus.
Melchizedek offered bread and wine to Abraham, yet this is 2000 years or so prior to the establishment of communion by Jesus.
Coincidence? Did Jesus copy Melchizedek? Or does it show God working His same purposes throughout history regardless of the time?

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Old 10-30-2001, 04:23 PM   #12
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I think the Mormons believe Jesus & Melchizedek are the archangel Michael.
or was that some other cult I read about?
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Old 10-30-2001, 06:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by 3DChizl:

I said: The web page I mentioned in the first place, referring to an on-line book that seeks to disprove much of Jesusí being the savior as compared to Mohammed is biased but makes a few good points.
The site I was talking about in the first place
My claim is, admittedly buried deep in the muck of my looooong post: From the following I have concluded that if he existed, he was a leader of some reasonably powerful, probably monotheistic type religion during the days of the Old Testament. To speculate further is merely to create another unfounded opinion such as I just have. His story is interpreted in different ways, but the prevailing view among Christians seems to be that he was an earlier incarnation of Christ.

Would you agree?
First, a point of protocol: If you wish to make a point, it typically does not help to bury that point within a mammoth post that is really nothing more than a copy and paste job from another web site. I have seen this tactic employed before by people of all kinds of persuasions, and it rarely generates much discussion, especially as the person offering that kind of post rarely returns to defend it.

In the world of internet discussion boards, this is known as spamming, and it is usually ignored, especially by regulars. When I saw that you were, in fact, interested in a discussion on your post, I tried to focus on what appeared (to me) to be the key issues in the article. Your newest post helps to clarify this further, and in future, I would recommend that you simply offer your link, present your own arguement based on that site (or book, or what have you), and we can go from there.

Alright, now, your question appears to be, is the most common Christian view of Melchizedek that he is an earlier incantation of Jesus? I did some quick checks on this, and I would have to say that the answer is no, mostly for the reasons I have already given. Not even in Hebrews is he called a god, nor is he equated with Jesus. His role is that of the founder of a type of priesthood that is superior to that of the Levites and Aaronites that dominated Judaism at that time, and this is a critical theological point for early Christianity. Remember that the coming Messiah was thought to have two potential roles, one as King of Israel, and the second as High Priest of all of the people of Israel. The Gospels tend to focus on the former role, Paul and Hebrews on the latter (though we can find elements of both roles in each set of documents).

I confined my search to just a few sources, but they represent a pretty good cross section of Christian thought. In the Catholic Catechim we find the following:

The one priesthood of Christ

1544
Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men." The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High," as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique "high priest after the order of Melchizedek"; "holy, blameless, unstained," "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified," that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

Melchizedek has no role as the sole mediator between God and man, nor is he called a god anywhere in Scripture. Thus, he cannot be equated with God. He is superior to Abraham and his descendents, and a Kingly Priest, placing him in the same "type" as Jesus, but then only in one of Jesus' roles, not all of them.

Another discussion of "Melchizedech" can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia here.

For further information on a discussion of Melchizedek as he was viewed in 1st Century Palestine, I would refer you to an analysis of 11Q from the Dead Sea Scrolls, provided by Beverly Park-Watkins and referenced by Dr. Malhon Smith. Her article is found here.

Most of the remaining discussions I could find on Melchezedek focused on this fragment (11Q), Mormon theology, or other even more esoteric cults and groups. I cannot find him being discussed as a god on any Christian web sites, although he is mentioned in Glenn Miller's discussion on the concept of "typology" commonly found in Jewish and Christian theology.

I would have to agree with Miller that Melchuzedek is a "type" of Messiah, as is King David, and even the Persian king Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1, note that "messiah" and "christ" both are translated as "annointed"). I have not heard him called a god, except by Mormons and some cults.

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Old 10-30-2001, 07:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>I'm getting sidetracked completely here, but a part which interested me was this:
Melchizedek strengthened Abraham by the offering of bread and wine which in the communion service are the symbols of the body and the blood, the life of the Lord Jesus.
Melchizedek offered bread and wine to Abraham, yet this is 2000 years or so prior to the establishment of communion by Jesus.
Coincidence? Did Jesus copy Melchizedek? Or does it show God working His same purposes throughout history regardless of the time?

Tercel</STRONG>
Sorry to be petty but .... what is unusual about a host offering a guest refreshment ... wine was generally not considered strong drink and was often safer to drink than water. As for bread hmmm nothing remarkable there ..... Sorry but I often find it strange that we (HUMANS) see patterns, connections and deep meaning in the most mundane of things. it is simply in the realm of speculation ..... Interesting that as pointed out in the O.P. there is such sparse evidence Genesis &gt;&gt;&gt; Psalm then finally in Hebrews we see everything explained .... We each see this differently
I see human retro-fitting you see divine guidence.

[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: Justus ]
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Old 10-30-2001, 09:53 PM   #15
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Regarding rabbinic references to Melchizedek, there's a gemara (Nedarim 32b) which identifies Melchizedek with Shem (i.e. son of Noah, Abraham's great great great great great great great grandfather). The same gemara faults Melchizedek for first blessing
Abram (Gen 14:19) and then blessing God (Gen 14:20). For this reason, says the gemara, the priesthood was taken away from Melchizedek and given to Abram. Melchizedek was a priest, goes the argument, but his children were not. (Umm...but Abram was a descendant of Shem. The rabbis don't seem worried by this.)

Presumably the rabbis noted that Genesis 11 puts 290 years between the birth of Shem's son Arpachshad and the birth of Abram. Since Shem was only 100 when Arpachshad was born, and lived another 500 years, he was at his peak -- a mature 390 years old -- when Abram was born. In fact, there's a famous midrash which states that Jacob studied Torah at a yeshiva run by Shem and Eber. Of course, the Torah hadn't yet been given to Moses, but they studied nonetheless. (This solves a chronological problem regarding Jacob's age.)

Midrash Rabbah is rather positive on Melchizedek. There's a general understanding that Salem/Shalem is to be identified with Jerusalem, although Genesis Rabbah also cites an opinion that shalem = "whole" indicates that Melchizedek was born circumcised.

Psalm 110's reference to Melchizedek is interesting. Due to the ambiguous English translation, "You are a priest for ever after
the order of Melchizedek," some Christian exegetes seem to interpret the word "order" as a sort of classification -- as in "a priest like Melchizedek." (Some even say that this sentence is addressed to Jesus!) The ambiguity is in the Septuagint, which uses the word taxis, which has a broad connotation. Hence Hebrews 7:15 refers to the "likeness of Melchizedek" (RSV). At any rate, the Hebrew (MT) of Ps 110:4b is atah kohen l`olam al-dibrati malki-tzedeq, the meaning of which is most unclear. (In fact, the entire psalm is problematic.) The plain sense would be "you are a priest forever on my words malki tsedeq." So one could translate 110:4 as:

Yahweh has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest for ever,
according to my words [to] Melchizedek."

(The construction al-debar usually means "because of". However, here diber takes a possessive ending -- dibrati means "my words", so the literal "on/according to my words" is the peshat.) However, simply repointing the MT can radically change the pronominal referents in various locations of this psalm (e.g. adonai at the beginning of verse 5 could also be adoni if you change the patach to a hiriq). One begins to appreciate the many divergent interpretations.

One problem with this interpretation: what were YHWH's words to Melchizedek? The most likely words that might be associated with Melchizedek are his own in Gen 14:19-20. This is the solution proposed by Rabbi David Kimkhi (a.k.a. RaDaK), discussed below. However, since Melchizedek is hyphenated -- malki-tsedeq -- in the MT, one might translate malki as "my king," in which case we'd have:

Yahweh has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest for ever;
according to my words, my righteous king."

So now the character Melchizedek is out of the picture and the words are YHWH's words/promise to David, which has broad textual support. (al dibrati could just as well mean "according to my pact" or "according to my promise.")

As to why this verse specifically mentions the priesthood, it might be the case that the psalmist was justifying the royal arrogation of the priesthood, attributing this to YHWH himself. There are several instances of non-Levitical sacrifice in the early prophets. For example, Samuel, an Ephraimite, and Saul, a Benjaminite both offer sacrifices. (But see the postscript below.) At any rate, our text is so problematic that there are many possibilities. The tenses are unclear, for example. Do verses 5 and 6 refer to future or past/current events? Any messianic interpretation of the psalm hangs in the balance.

The psalm opens, in Hebrew, l'dovid mizmor n'um YHWH l'adoni..., which means, "Of David, a psalm. The oracle of YHWH to my lord... ." The reverence for the divine name and its substitution with "the LORD" causes some problems here! The wordadoni (lord) is pointed with a hiriq and not a patach or qamats. Thus, it does not refer to God, but to David. If we abandon the pleasant fiction that the psalms were written by David and realize instead that they are (largely) writtenabout David, the opening begins to make sense. The author of the Psalm is an anonymous "subject" (contemporary or not) of King David. n'um YHWH l'adoni means "The oracle of Yahweh to my master (David)." This psalm, which I don't think is at all "messianic", is written about or even to David (in the same way, perhaps, that one would write an open letter "to" the President of the United States). It glorifies and justifies (see below) David. If I wax really credulous for a minute, I can almost imagine the author to be a living subject of an aging King David. The psalm invigorates the aging king, recalling the "dew of [his] youth" (110:3), and promising military victories (110:5-7). Note that in verse 5, adonai is pointed with a patach and not a hiriq. Thus, the MT here can only refer to YHWH himself.

If you read Dahood's Anchor Bible commentary on this psalm (Dahood's three volumes on Psalms are slightly kooky in places and too often attempt to exploit tenuous parallels to the Ugaritic literature), he translates malki-tzedeq as "legitimate king" and doesn't invoke the name of the Genesis Melchizedek. Dahood also claims that the -y ending could be third person singular, which is news to me (any Hebrew book will tell you it is first person singular), so that dibrati means "his words". You might think "his" would then refer to Melchizedek himself, but Dahood takes "his words" refer to YHWH, so the meaning is much the same as my second version above. Now there are many scribal errors which confuse waw andyod, and dibrato would be "his words", but what Dahood is saying is something else. And no serious scholars I know of would believe him.

David Kimkhi (12th/13th century) interpreted dibrati to mean "his words" referring to the words of Melchizedek. This ties in with Nedarim 32b again -- it was the words of Melchizedek (his hasty blessing of Abram before el elyon) which caused a transfer of the priestly lineage. Thus,

Yahweh has sworn
and will not change his mind
You are a priest for ever,
according to the words of Melchizedek.

In this reading, the speaker in 110:4b is the anonymous author, rather than YHWH. I have a problem with this because the MT says dibrati and not dibrato (though, again, a broken waw could masquerade as a yod). This problem aside, the "words of Melchizedek" could refer in a positive sense to his blessing too. I.e. one might think that Melchizedek's blessing of Abram somehow conferred upon the latter a priestly status (as opposed to a transfer of status, as the Talmud insists). In this case, the English word "order" could connote "command" rather than a classification. Note that while Abram does build altars prior to his meeting with Melchizedek, his first sacrifice, commanded by YHWH, does not occur until after he is blessed by Melchizedek. On the other hand, Abraham's sacrifices are not the first in the Torah -- Noah also offered a sacrifice.

Interestingly, the rabbinical position is that there WAS an "order of Melchizedek" of sorts. I.e. God had planned to pass the priesthood through the line of Shem (= Melchizedek). So Melchizedek was one link
in a succession of priests. Had it not been for his blessing Abram before God, the priesthood would have passed through him. Of course, the fact that, according to the rabbis, Abraham is a descendant of Melchizedek somewhat weakens this point -- the priestly line might have passed through Abraham anyway. I'm unaware of any rabbinical literature which discusses how the priesthood would have been passed through a non-Abrahamic line from Shem.

The provenance of Melchizedek in Gen 14:18-20 is difficult to establish. It is quite possible that, as was the case with Balaam, there was an oral Melchizedek tradition at the time this section of Genesis was written. The character of Adonizedek in Joshua 10:1-3 is perhaps another written reflection of the same tradition. (adoni-tsedeq -- "my righteous lord" is essentially the same as malki-tsedeq -- "my righteous king"). I've read at least one speculation that Gen 14:18-20 is extremely late -- of Hasmonean provenance. As the passage is redolent of the priest/king themes which resonate with the period of Hasmonean rule, this seems an attractive speculation. However, Melchizedek appears in all three major text traditions -- the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Thus, a Hasmonean date (i.e. after ca. 164 BCE) seems unlikely.

One last point regarding the translation of malki-tsedeq in Psalm 110:4. If you look in the Artscroll Tanakh or the Artscroll Tehillim (without commentary), you'll find that the translation follows Kimkhi's interpretation. Once I was at a rabbi's house and we got into a discussion of this psalm, and he brought out his thick Artscroll Commmentary on Tehillim. I was surprised to see that in this (more recent) edition, malki-tsedeq is translated as
"righteous king" and the character of Melchizedek disappears from the psalm!


Postscript: Samuel and Saul
---------------------------
A brief point on the matter of non-Levitical sacrifice: While I mentioned that Samuel and Saul conducted sacrifices contrary to Levitical law, one might have a different interpretation. According to 1 Samuel, Samuel seems to be an Ephraimite. (The MT says efrati, but the same term is used in Judges 5 where it clearly means Ephraimite. Also if his ancestor Zuph is
to be identified with the land of Zuph, we know from 1 Samuel 9 that Zuph lies beyond just beyond Benjamin, i.e. in Ephraim). 1 Chronicles insists that Samuel was a Levite. If Samuel was a Levite, then his rebuke of Saul for the latter's hasty sacrifice (1 Sam 10:8, 13:8-11) might conceivably be for the impropriety of Saul, a Benjaminite, not waiting for Samuel, a Levite (indeed a Kohathite according to 1 Chronicles) to perform the sacrifice. Only this is not exactly what 1 Samuel says. If you read Joshua 21, where the Levites are assigned cities, you'll see that the Kohathites are indeed assigned territory in Ephraim. But nota bene it is the non-Aaronids who get cities in Ephraim, Dan, and Manasseh. The Aaronid branch of the Kohathites gets territory in Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.

So where does this leave us? In general I distrust the early genealogies recorded in Chronicles because Chronicles is a rather late post-exilic text and in many instances attempts to harmonize problems in the Deuteronimistic History. The evidence I cobbled from Joshua, Judges, and Samuel suggests that Samuel was from Ephraim, and even if one makes the stretch and assumes
he was a Levite, there's nothing to suggest he was an Aaronid. The idea that Samuel rebukes Saul for an "unlicensed" sacrifice is superficially compelling, but there's nothing in the text (the MT, at least) which really nails down this point.

So I'm inclined to believe that Samuel was not a hereditary priest (although he was a Nazirite, even if 1 Samuel's definition of a Nazirite and that from Numbers aren't entirely consonant). Saul was rebuked for not following orders precisely, and not for and unlicensed sacrifice.

[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 10-30-2001, 10:23 PM   #16
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Personally, I would have never allowed CS to switched what once was "like unto" into an arguement about the word "LIKE".

There is a big difference between "like unto" and "like".

Dutch apologists seem to be versed in the willy nilly.


Nor should CS be allowed to make absurd statements with out confrontation like:

Quote:
In fact we're all sons of God. But there is one Son of God.
Seems as shifty as the best of them.

[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: Grand Nubian ]
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Old 10-31-2001, 04:17 AM   #17
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Nomad - My apologies on the protocol breach, I included the references below the quoted page because they required extensive parsing to make the point and keep them readable. I shall try to keep it more to the point in the future
The question of Mel being jesus arose due to the comments in three of the four references I cited:
Quote:
Could it be that Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness and Peace was in fact Jesus Christ Himself? That's what some interpreters think, based on Hebrews 7:3 and 8.(4) If this is right, then Christ, Himself, must have appeared in this case as He did again in Gen. 18:16-33 for some special reason. Probably He foresaw that the priesthood question would become a problem later, so He intervened at this time to solve it.
Quote:
Even this explanation hardly answers to the words, especially when it is added, "Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life." So mysterious is Melchizedek that many deeply-taught expositors think that he was veritably an appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Quote:
nor as the Melchisedekites, that he was the Holy Ghost; nor as others, the Divine Word
That aside I find it interesting that such a tenuous figure takes on such a prominent roll in the transition from Judaism to Christianity.
Thank you for the references - I hope to get to them today.

Justice - Retro-fitting required!

Apikorus - Thank you for the in-depth commentary - It will take some time for me to digest it all, but the picture is becoming better rounded, not more clear. Thank's so much!
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Old 11-05-2001, 04:52 AM   #18
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Two Christians' views - one M. was god another M. was a man. To anyone following this: I would like to know your view. If Melchizedek was a man and he just didn't have a geneology, why couldn't he be a Levite? If he was, would this not cause a problem in identifing Jesus with him? If he was a god (of some kind), does it diminish the role of Jesus since he is still around somewhere?
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Old 11-14-2001, 11:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by 3DChizl:

Two Christians' views - one M. was god another M. was a man. To anyone following this: I would like to know your view. If Melchizedek was a man and he just didn't have a geneology, why couldn't he be a Levite? If he was, would this not cause a problem in identifing Jesus with him? If he was a god (of some kind), does it diminish the role of Jesus since he is still around somewhere?
In answer to your first question, as Abraham and Melchizedek were contemporaries, and Levi (father of the Levite tribe) was not yet born, it is doubtful that he was a Levite.

As for him being a god, I would need to see that claim being made for him in Hebrew or Christian Scriptures. So far as I can tell, we simply do not know his genealogy, leaving him without one. That hardly translates into him being a god. Besides, Jesus DOES have a genealogy, and Christians do think that He is a God, so being without a genealogy does not appear to make one a god.

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Old 11-15-2001, 07:11 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
<STRONG>
As for him being a god, I would need to see that claim being made for him in Hebrew or Christian Scriptures. So far as I can tell, we simply do not know his genealogy, leaving him without one. That hardly translates into him being a god. Besides, Jesus DOES have a genealogy, and Christians do think that He is a God, so being without a genealogy does not appear to make one a god.

Nomad</STRONG>
"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; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils."

Hebrews 7:1-4

this says that mel "didn't have a beginning of days, nor end of life." this does not mean that his geneology is unknown; it means that he didn't have a geneology. big difference.

the only other being we know of that fits that characteristic is god.

point 2: "but made like unto the Son of God"
is not the same as "like a son of god."
this verse compares him to jesus, not mortal men (or your standard children of god type). hence the reason christians might believe that mel is an earlier incarnation of christ.
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