In Torah parasha Lech Lecha, we see Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew Lot, and how after defeatsing the four kings he is blessed by Malki-Zedek (Shem) the king of Salem (Jerusalem) and gives Melchizedek a tithe as Abram knows him and knows he is a righteous Priest of the Most High. Many people write to me inquiring as to why I teach that Melchizedek was Shem, when they read from the NT (Hebrews 7:3) that Rabbi Shaul mystically mentions Melchizedek as a type of High Priest who was without “father or mother”…
The western mind does not realize that this statement is a classic example of Jewish typological method, which is based on the understanding that transcendent spiritual realities are reflected in earthly replicas. Christians read that Melchizedek was without “father or mother”, not realizing that when Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek, this king of Righteousness was already 800 years old and had outlived 10 generations up to Abraham and the people of the day knew not who his father and mother was because he was born before the flood 700 years before, and it “seems” to them in their lifetime that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God”.
Note that he “seems” to have no origin or ending… He appears to “remain a priest forever” and in this way he “resembles the Son of God,” and this allows him to serve as an earthly representation of the Messiah. This is why Hashem chose to name him as the head of the order of priests to which the Messiah (represented in Psalm 110 by the Davidic king) would belong.
Melchizedek was not a given name, but an honorary title meaning “King of Righteousness.” He was also known as the King of Salem (that is, of Jerusalem) meaning “King of Peace.” and by translating these two terms we see an apt type for the future Moshiach, who is a priest in the order of Melchizedek by virtue of being the Messianic king of Jerusalem, as someone who helps people become righteous before God and so find peace with God!
Many ancient manuscripts and Dead Sea Scrolls equate Melchizedek with Shem, and to support this understanding, I provide a few quotes below…
“And when Avram came out from the cave, he went to Noach and his son Shem, and he remained with them to learn the instruction of YAHUAH and his ways, and no man knew where Avram was, and Avram served Noach and Shem his son for a long time.”YASHAR (JASHER) 9:5 את CEPHER
And Adoniy-Tsedeq king of Yerushalayim, the same was Shem, went out with his men to meet Avram and his people, with bread and wine, and they remained together in the valley of Melek. And Adoniy-Tsedeq blessed Avram, and Avram gave him a tenth from all that he had brought from the spoil of his enemies, for Adoniy-Tsedeq was a priest before ELOHIYM.YASHAR (JASHER) 16:11-12 את CEPHER
“This Melchizedek was Shem.”Ephraem, Commentary on Genesis 11:2
“The [Jews] say that he [Melchizedek] was Shem, Noah’s son, and counting up the total years of his lifetime [eight hundred years, according to Gen. 11:11]”Jerome, Questions in Genesis, Gen. 14:18
About Shem[‘s being a prophet] it says, “Upon My word, Melchizedek” [PS. 110:4].”Seder Olam 21 (2nd century Jewish)
“And Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem, who was the great Shem…”Targum Neophyti Gen. 14:18
Likewise Shem was born circumcised, as it says, “And Melchizedek, king of Salem …” [interpreted as the king who was salem, “complete” or “perfect,” hence, circumcised].Abot deR. Natan (A) 2
(Other references equating him with Shem, son of Noah; cf. b. Nedarim 32b; Midrash Gen. R. 44.7; Targum Ps.-J. Gen. 14:18)
It is my intention that this knowledge help all realize there are thousands of years of great Sages also believing that Shem was Melchizedek as this was passed down from father to son from ancient times. Hopefully we can all be open-minded to new ideas and varying views and in the end all things will be clarified anyways so we try not to make any of these small matters a point of contention or division… but seeing how Y’hoshua literally fulfills all things through his different literal lineages is very exciting! Wishing you blessings and your continued studies and search for truth!
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