The Mystery of Melchizadek Part 1
by Rabbi Ian Kalev Michaels
By saying ‘renewed,’ He has made the first old. Now what becomes old and growing aged is near disappearing.
In the 7th decade of the first century, according to the historian Josephus, strange things began to happen in Jerusalem;
1. A star appeared in the shape of a sword and people took it as a sign of eminent destruction.
2. At the feast of unleavened bread in the middle of the night, a light burned around the altar for half an hour and it lit up the city. Some people rejoiced and took it as a great sign and others later took it as a sign that the temple would be finished in flames.
3. After the feast, some in Jerusalem saw visions in the clouds of chariots racing around surrounding the city.
4. At the feast of Shavuot, the priests were in the inner court at night and suddenly there was a quaking and a rumbling and they heard the sound of a multitude saying, “Let us depart from here.”
5. A man named Y’shua (not the Messiah) wandered the streets for years and years saying, “Woe to the city of Jerusalem,” until finally war started and a stone hit him in the head and he said, “Woe to me also.”
6. As the time of the Temple’s destruction grew near, false prophets went through the city and told the people, “Elohim will deliver you if you go up to the top of the Temple. Seek His deliverance and He will come.” So people went up to the top of the Temple and the time came when the Romans burned the Temple and the people went hurling down into the flames and the Temple in Jerusalem passed away in fire and blood and fighting and chaos.
This fulfilled the words of Y’shua 40 years earlier when He said, “Not one stone will be left upon another” [Matt. 24:2]. Many Jewish leaders thought it was the end of the world. They were in confusion and despair. The 2,000 years of wandering Rabbinical Judaism began; a Judaism without a Temple. This deluge produced 2 streams of faith.
The one says, “The old is still in effect, but we must revise it because we have;
a. no Temple
b. no priesthood
c. no sacrifice
….so, we’ll come up with another system.”
The fallacy of this is that Elohim does not play around with His Word. He doesn’t change His requirements. Either;
a. The old covenant is passed away
b. It is still in effect and we are all in big trouble. Without the Temple, the priesthood and sacrifice there can be no fulfilling of the requirement outlined in Leviticus that requires a proper sacrifice.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life.
The second stream of faith says, “Either we are in trouble or Elohim has fulfilled what He promised.” Elohim does not play around with His word! It is either “Yes” or “No”! If now there is no Temple, priesthood or sacrifice, then there must be a new covenant. He does not end one thing without first beginning another, so the old must be fulfilled. He is a brilliant conductor and he would not disband the orchestra before the crescendo and the final note of the symphony. He must have brought the Temple, priesthood and sacrifice to its fulfillment.
The letter to the Hebrews was written between 60 and 70 CE, just prior to the destruction of the Temple and in Hebrews 8:13, the writer reminds us of the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah when Yah spoke of a new, or more properly renewed covenant that was to come consequently, as he states, making the first covenant obsolete and soon to disappear. If the new has come and Yah is Yah of both the old and new, you would expect that there would be a link between the two, a passing of the torch and an acknowledgement by the old of the new. Certainly, the Elohim of order would have the old priesthood gracefully pass the torch to the new priesthood. The priests were the keepers of the covenant, therefore with the coming of a new covenant, we must have a new priesthood and if the old covenant speaks of a new priesthood, it should come in with a blessing. But, what we see in history is a sudden end to the Levitical priesthood. And so, there is a mystery!
Same Yah, same truth, same faith, so where is the anointing of the old upon the new? The mystery unfolds in a study of Malkitsedeq and we start with the letter to the Hebrews.
For it is perfectly clear that our Master arose from Yehudah, a tribe about which Mosheh never spoke of concerning priesthood, and this is clearer still, if another arises in the likeness of Malkitsedeq, who has become, not according to the Torah of fleshly command, but according to the power of an endless life,
Here we see mention of Y’shua from the tribe of Judah, the kingly line and yet the writer refers to Him as a priest! How can this be? The priestly line is Levi! Clearly, the Messiah was not to be a priest by the old. But, you can’t just throw out the priesthood.
For this Malkitsedeq, sovereign of Shalem, priest
of the Most High Elohim, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the sovereigns and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, his name being translated, indeed, first, “Sovereign of Righteousness,” and then also, “Sovereign of Shalem,” that is, “Sovereign of Peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but having been made like the Son of Elohim, remains a priest for all time.
The writer of Hebrews is very much like the writers of Talmud in that he is expounding in a poetic and insightful fashion the prophetic purpose of Malkitsedeq and how he relates to the Eternal Messiah. The best commentary on scripture is scripture and although this is man’s commentary on the Genesis account of Malkitsedeq, it is divine and anointed commentary.
And Malkitsedeq sovereign of Shalem brought out bread and wine. Now he was priest of the Most High El. And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High El, possessor of the heavens and earth. And blessed be the Most High El who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tenth of all.
1. Appears out of nowhere
2. Is recalled in prophecy
3. Is highlighted in the new covenant divine commentary
4. Is priest of Yah
5. Is King of Righteousness and Peace
6. Is without genealogy (in other words, scripture says nothing of his origin)
7. Is a greater figure than Abraham
So, who was he? The theories are vast!
Church Father Origen said, “He was an angel.”
Epheneus said, “He was the Holy Spirit.”
Ambrose said, “He was the Messiah.”
Calmid said, “He was Enoch.”
The Targums of the Rabbi’s, Jerome and Luther all said, “He was Shem.”
This last theory is the most probable since Shem was still alive during the life of Abraham, but it really isn’t important who he actually was. The fact is he was a king and a priest, therefore a type of the coming Messiah who prophecy tells us will be a king and a priest. Malkitsedeq seems to be eternal in that scripture says nothing of his beginning or his end. We also are not told anything about his authority as a king and as a priest. It is not explained to us. He just is! There is nothing that ever says that his priesthood ends, unlike that of Aaron’s priesthood which had a beginning and an end. Malkitsedeq’s priesthood has no beginning or end that is spoken of and his authority is not of man! Then we see him bring out bread and wine, the very same elements of our Messiah as symbols of the covenant offering of His body and blood. These elements sum up the offering of the priesthood.
According to the letter to the Hebrews, this was the greatest man in the Old Testament. In chapter 7, the writer tells us Abraham paid him tithes (verse 4) and states that it is beyond dispute that the lesser is blessed by the greater (verse7).
“And one might say that through Abraham even Lewi, who received tithes, gave tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Malkitsedeq met him.”
[Hebrews 7: 9 &10]
In this way, the entire Levitical priesthood paid homage to the greatness of this priesthood. What this tells us is that there is a greater priesthood that the Bible speaks about that has no beginning or end. Malkitsedeq himself is not the point! He is merely a place holder for a legal precedent. The point is that there was something greater that Yah put in the Scriptures prior to the coming of the Levitical Priesthood to show us that if something greater existed before the old covenant, then something greater can exist when it ends. It’s as if Yah is saying, “I’ve put this strange figure in here to remind you that when it ends, there was always something greater.” Rabbinical Judaism wants to stress “the Torah of God”, but the emphasis should always be “the God of the Torah.”
So, looking back to Hebrews 7:14, if someone asks, how the Messiah gets to be a priest if He’s not from Levi, how does Malkitsedeq get to be a priest since he was not from Levi either! That is the point of Malkitsedeq in Genesis!
For the benefit of the die hard skeptic who would say that the writer of Hebrews was way out on a limb claiming Y’shua’s greater priesthood from an obscure verse in Genesis about Malkitsadeq, turn to Psalm 110.
YHWH said to my Master, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” ……..YHWH has sworn and does not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Malkitsedeq.”
[Psalm 110:1& 4]
Modern commentary on this portion says the Master David speaks of is father Abraham, but that can’t be right. Who can be a priest forever, or do anything forever for that matter, but the Eternal Messiah? Y’shua made reference to this Psalm when He questioned the Pharisees about whose Son the Messiah was and asked them if He is the Son of David, why does David call Him MarYah?(MarYah is the Aramaic equivalent to the Sacred Name, YHWH) [Matt. 22:41-46 in the Aramaic Peshitta]. Clearly, this is about the Messiah, and in verse 4 it says, “YHWH has sworn and will not change His mind. If YHWH has sworn, Do you think He strongly means it? It is a solid biblical doctrine that the Messiah, born of Judah, of David, is to be a Priest as well as a King!
In Israel, there was the house of kings born of David and the house of priests born of Aaron. Never could the two offices be held by one and the same individual! King Aziah tried to offer up something without going through a priest and because of it, he was struck with leprosy for the rest of his life. And yet, Messiah is to be king and priest. So, how can this be? The legal precedent was set back in Genesis with the appearance of Malkitsedeq and from this king and priest of Yah Most High, a kingly and priestly anointing was placed upon Abraham from whom kings and priests would come from the house of David and the house of Aaron still in the loins of Abraham. The Messiah would be born from the house of David, so the anointing to be king was His at birth, but the priestly anointing upon the house of Aaron was a borrowed blessing to be given back to whom it belonged when He came, and in this way both blessings would forever rest upon Him! The Messiah is the Malkitsedeq, the meaning of the name being “Melech” (King) “Tsadik” (righteousness, a thing of the priesthood). There is nothing contrived or stretched to obtain this. This is nothing less than solid Tanach (Old Testament) doctrine!
If Psalm 110 were not enough, at the close of the Tanach, we have another prophetic picture from Zechariah revealing even more clearly who the coming King of Righteousness will be.
And you shall take the silver and gold, make a crown, and set it on the head of Yehoshua the son of Yehotsadaq, the high priest, and shall speak to him saying, “Thus said YHWH of hosts, saying, ‘See, the man whose name is the Branch! And from His place, He shall branch out, and He shall build the Hekal of YHWH. It is He who is going to build the Hekal of YHWH. It is He who is going to bear the splendour. And He shall sit and rule on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both…’”
Now, a crown upon a priest was heresy, for a priest could not be a king. That had only happened once in Malkitsedeq back in Genesis and was befitting for only the Messiah, son of David, according to the prophecy of Psalm 110. Here in Zechariah, we see harmony between the two offices in one individual whose name it says is the Branch. In Hebrew, “branch” is “nazer” from which the town of Nazareth was named. The name of the priest crowned king is also Yehoshua, the earlier Hebrew version of the name “Y’shua.” Can it be any more spelled out than this? The rightful king and priest who will build the Temple of YHWH, will be Y’shua, the Nazarene.
to be continued...
(special thanks to Rabbi Jonathan Cahn of Beth Zion in Garfield, NJ)