Hebrews 7:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 11, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“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.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people —that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.”
-Hebrews 7:1-10

Who is Melchizedek? He has been mentioned before in the book of Hebrews – 5:6, 5:10, and 6:20 right before this passage. For more on the Hebrews 5 references, check out this post, and you can read about the context leading up to the chapter 6 reference here. Melchizedek was also mentioned in Psalm 110:4, with the context of a priest “in the order of Melchizedek” just like we see in Hebrews 6:20.

The only other reference to Melchizedek in the Bible is Genesis 14:18-20. The context of that passage is during Abram’s time, shortly before God made His great covenant with Abram. Melchizedek is referred to as the king of Salem, but he was also a priest of God and he gave a blessing to Abram: “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.” Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had, and then we don’t hear anything more about him.

While the author of Hebrews previously referred to Jesus as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he develops that further in this section. This is significant because priests were generally considered to be in the order of Aaron, so this signifies Jesus as a different type of priest. This shows the uniqueness of Jesus and the great work He accomplished.

The meeting between Melchizedek and Abram is referenced in Hebrews 7:1-2. It’s important to note that the name Melchizedek means king of righteousness; “melek” is the Hebrew word for king, and “tsedek” is the Hebrew word for righteousness. The author of Hebrews points out that “king of Salem” also means “king of peace.” The Hebrew word used for “Salem” in the Genesis passage is not quite the same as “shalom,” which means peace, though they do come from the same root. Many scholars think that Salem may actually be short for Jerusalem. But it’s interesting that the author of Hebrews doesn’t mention that potential connection with Jerusalem, as Jesus had many significant life events there. There are also other places that were sometimes referred to as Salem in the Old Testament.

In verse 3, we see that Melchizedek is referred to as not having a father, mother, genealogy, or any dates that he was born or died. Along with the phrase that he resembled the Son of God, some scholars interpret this to mean that Melchizedek was not human, perhaps an angelic being. The genealogy of a priest was important, as priests needed to be from a certain heritage, so it’s significant that this is not the case for Melchizedek. But, what the author is doing here is applying these truths to Jesus as the Son of God – He has no earthly father, no lineage, and as God, He was never born nor died nor had a mother, though He did experience those things as a human.

The rest of the passage discusses the process of tithing, which brings out the greatness of Melchizedek and therefore Jesus. Abraham’s giving “a tenth of the plunder” (verse 4) to Melchizedek; the word there in Greek indicates that Abraham gave him the very best, “the top of the heap” so to speak. Then, the author begins focusing on the requirements of the law. This is specifically referring to the law of Moses, which did require the people to give a tenth of their income to the priests, so the priests could support themselves and the temple. This did not make the priests superior to their fellow Israelites, but they got their income from others because they were doing the work of God with their lives.

Because of all this, we see how Melchizedek was superior to other priests – he was not a descendant from Levi like all the other priests (Levi would have been one of Abraham’s great-grandsons), Abraham chose to give him a tenth before it was required to do so, and Melchizedek rewarded Abraham with a blessing. The law of Moses (that required people to give ten percent to priests) did not exist for generations after the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek.

So, the author has established that Melchizedek was a great high priest who lived before the role of priests or a high priest was a formal role. That was established in the law of Moses for the nation of Israel after their exodus from Egypt. But why does all of this about Melchizedek even matter? Stay tuned, as the author Hebrews connects Melchizedek to Jesus in the next passage.

But, we can still learn from this passage and apply it to our lives today. Abraham gave Melchizedek ten percent not out of obligation but out of a desire to honor him. If you give out of your income to God, whether ten percent or some other amount, do you do it because you feel like you are obligated to? Or do you do it out of a desire to honor God? Abraham’s motivation was clear, and because of that Melchizedek blessed him. What is your motivation to give to God? If it is out of a desire to honor God and not because you feel like you have to, I believe God will bless that in your life.

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