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Who Was Melchizedek?
Preparing for the Second Sunday after Pentecost: Two Days before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 33:1-12
Old Testament: Genesis 14:17-24
Epistle: Acts 28:1-10
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh, that is, the King’s Valley. And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten and the share of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their share” (Genesis 14:17-24).
Melchizedek is a mysterious figure in the Bible, specifically in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 14:18-20) and the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1-17). The name “Melchizedek” is a combination of two Hebrew words, melek meaning “king,” and zedek meaning “righteousness” or “justice.”
In the biblical account, Melchizedek appears briefly during the time of Abraham. He is described as the king of Salem (which is often associated with ancient Jerusalem) and a priest of God Most High. When Abraham returns victorious from battle, Melchizedek blesses him and receives a tenth of all his spoils. The biblical text emphasizes Melchizedek’s greatness and his unique role as both a king and a priest.
In the New Testament, the Book of Hebrews expands on the significance of Melchizedek. It presents him as a prefiguration of Jesus Christ, highlighting similarities between the two. The author of Hebrews argues that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood established later in the Mosaic law. This comparison serves to emphasize the supremacy of Jesus’ priesthood, which is said to be “in the order of Melchizedek.” The author suggests that Jesus’ priesthood is eternal and superior because it is not based on lineage or law.
The identity of Melchizedek beyond the biblical account is uncertain. Some scholars view Melchizedek as a historical figure, perhaps a local ruler in the ancient Near East, while others interpret him as a symbolic or mythical figure. The limited information provided in the Bible has led to speculation and diverse interpretations regarding Melchizedek’s nature and significance.
PRAYER: Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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