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Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek — by , 1464–67
Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek — by Dieric Bouts the Elder , 1464–67

Melchizedek or Malki-tzédek (מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק / מַלְכִּי־צָדֶק "My king is righteous", Standard Hebrew Malki-ẓédeq / Malki-ẓádeq, Tiberian Hebrew Malkî-ṣéḏeq / Malkî-ṣāḏeq), sometimes written Melchisedec, Melchisedech or Melchisedek, is a character in the Bible who appeared in Genesis to the patriarch Abraham. He is called "king of Salem (believed to be ancient Jerusalem)" and "priest of the most high God" in Genesis 14:18.


Old Testament

Reference to Melchizedek is brief in the Tanakh. Melchizedek first appears bringing bread and wine to Abraham (then Abram) after his victory over the four kings who had besieged Sodom and Gomorrah and had taken his nephew Lot prisoner (described in Genesis 14). In return, Abraham gives Melchizedek a tithe of the bounty that he took in battle:

And Malchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest to the Most High God. And he blessed him, and he said, "Blessed be Abram to the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. And blessed be the Most High God, Who has delivered your adversaries into your hand," and he gave him a tithe from all. — Genesis 14:18-20 (Judaica press).

Psalm 110:4 names Melchizedek as representative of the priestly line through which a future king of Israel's Davidic line was ordained. The future king – in Christian belief, Jesus – is referred to as a "priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek".

The Lord swore and will not repent; you are a priest forever because of the speech of Malchizedek. — Psalms 110:4 (Judaica press).

Some rabbinic scholars identify Melchizedek with Noah's son Shem. The account of Melchizedek given in the Dead Sea Scrolls has also divided scholars into two camps, one that asserts his existence as a mortal man and another that identifies him with the archangel Michael.

New Testament

Hebrews 7:3 in the New Testament refers to Melchizedek as a king "without father or mother or genealogy", a reference which some Christians take as referring to Melchizedek's true nature as an angel or even as Jesus himself, appearing thousands of years before his earthly incarnation.

Melchizedek in the theology of the Latter-day Saints

According to the tradition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Melchizedek's blessing of Abraham at Salem is a priesthood authority whose keys were restored to Joseph Smith along with the keys of Aaron's priesthood. See Melchizedek Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood.

Biblical references to Melchizedek

Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:6-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-17

The historical Melchizedek

Melchizedek is a character in the early story of humanity as told in the Hebrew Bible. There is no evidence external to the Bible that he was a real historical figure. Some have argued that grammar and stylistic considerations indicate the account of Melchizidek is actually a non-Jewish tradition which was inserted at this point due to its mentioning of Abraham.

Last updated: 08-14-2005 08:14:45
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12