Who is Melchizedek?

April 16, 2023

The person of Melchizedek is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18-20:

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.”

But who was Melchizedek and what is his significance to the biblical story?

The King of Salem

Salem is traditionally identified as the Jebusite stronghold of old Jerusalem. Accordingly, there has been much speculation about its king. Though some have identified him with the preincarnate Christ or with NOah’s son Shem, it is far more likely that Melchizedek was a Canaanite royal priest whom God used to renew the promise of the blessing to Abram.

But Melchizedek remains an enigma. In a book filled with genealogical records, he appears on the scene without a genealogy and then disappears from the narrative.

Melchizedek the Priest

It is his royal priestly status that makes Melchizedek a type of Christ: He was identified with Jerusalem, superior to the ancestor of Israel, and both a king and a priest. Unlike the normal Canaanites, this man served “God Most High” who was the creator of the universe. Abram had in him a spiritual brother.

Abram’s tithe indicates that he considered Melchizedek a true priest of the living God; in giving this gift Abram was giving to the Lord.

The Blessing of Melchizedek

Melchizedek is the first to bless Abram; thus he comes under the special provision of God’s promise of blessing ( Genesis 12:3). The words of the blessing are in two lines of poetry, making them more memorable as well as adding a sense of power and effectiveness.

The Order of Melchizedek

In Psalm 110, the Lord declares that the Davidic king is a royal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.

The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.””

Psalm 110:4, NKJV

The Davidic King’s priestly role is analogous to that of Melchizedek. Like Melchizedek, the Davidic king was a royal priest, distinct from the Aaronic line (Hebrews 7). The analogy focuses on the king’s priestly role. Melchizedek was a priest, not because of his connection with the line of Aaron, but by divine decree.


Content in this article is taken from the NET Full-Notes Edition and the NKJV Study Bible.

Modern readers can find it challenging to connect with the ancient words and cultural contexts of the biblical writers. The NET offers a completely new solution: pairing a readable, everyday English translation with the largest set of translators’ notes ever created for a Bible. The NET’s 60,000 notes bring complete transparency to every major translation decision and invite you to look over the translators’ shoulders, allowing you to come to your own understanding of the Scriptures. Clear, readable, elegant, and accurate, the NET is an indispensable resource for every Bible reader. Click here to learn more.

Perfect for in-depth study or personal devotion, the NKJV Study Bible is filled with features that enhance your knowledge as well as devotion to God. The Bible contains over 15,000 verse-by-verse study notes, articles, extensive cross-references, and features contributed by top evangelical scholars. These study tools, combined with the accuracy and beauty of the New King James Version, make it a perfect choice to help you understand and deeply engage with Scripture. Click here to learn more.



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