It’s probably cool and in fashion in the theological scholarly clique to regard Melchizedek as a true believing Jebusite. By the way, while I highly regard scholarship (some is necessary for sure, though some effective ministers have done without it and learned from God teaching them from the bible-think of Gypsy Smith), in my observation the highest touted scholars have not been whom God has used most effectively. The promised knowledge of God through the Spirit in the New Covenant (1Jn. 2.20,27) breaks any theological monopoly. However, I believe, its best to have some good training in theology and languages providing that God is directing the instruction. I’ve seen too many supposedly Christians embark into scholarship in their own flesh with their self-inspired motive to make an impact for God. I’m not saying a person should be mystically seeking guidance but, instead, walk with God and regard good counsel from seasoned mentors.
My theology professor from over 40 years prior held the view that Melchizedek was human, and still today, many scholars think a plethora of ancient true believers existed who worshipped an El found in ancient literature. Everyone knows about God since He has revealed himself to all (Rom. 1.18-25). The Athenians even worshipped a god they didn’t know just to be sure to cover all religious bases (Acts 17.22-23). Just because folks engage in God talk, either ancient or modern, doesn’t mean they actually know Him.
The Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 (Melchizedek Scroll-easily found online) written about 100 BCE speaks of Melchizedek as Elohim. Therefore, the Essenes, priests who rejected the then current corrupt Jewish Priesthood, foresaw a future Melchizedek whom they expected to arrive soon. This post will seek to show that Melchizedek was not a Jebusite believer but an important Christophany, being central feature of the book of Hebrews.
When Abraham met Melchizedek in the Valley of the Kings in Gen. 14.17-20, the city’s name (if there even was a city in the vicinity) was Jebus and not Jerusalem. Many years later in both Joshua and Judges, Jebus is mentioned numerous times (Jos. 15.8, 63, 18.16, 28, Judg. 19.10,11, 14). It was not until the time of David that Israel took the city from the Jebusites (see 1Chron. 11.4-5). Therefore, the biblical Melchizedek was king over another “Salem,” namely, a heavenly one.
Though the heavenly sphere is mostly unknowable to earthly dwellers (see 2Cor. 12.4), the bible consistently indicates a heavenly abode of God which includes certain features. God showed Moses a sketch of the temple in heaven (Ex. 25.40). There exists a heavenly city with foundations which God built (Heb. 11.10). Paul maintained that Christians were citizens of heaven (Phil. 3.20). Also, there is a “Jerusalem above” that is a mother to Christians in contrast to the Roman enslaved Jerusalem of Paul’s day (Gal. 4.26).
Additionally, Melchizedek could not have been another human priest which God had chosen since Dt. 7.6-7 indicates that God’s program was to chose one man (Abraham), through whom the Messiah would come: For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples (NIV). If Melchizedek was a priest to another people of God, Amos 3.2 hardly makes any sense: You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins (NIV). Also, that Abraham inherited the land was the settled view of the Israelites: Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession’ (Ez. 33.24 NIV). Why didn’t Melchizedek or his flock join in the inheritance if they were truly godly humans in the Promised Land? While other godly people existed prior to Abraham such as Job; when God called Abram, he had to leave his family’s idolatry: Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods (Josh. 24.2 NIV). For all these reasons, Melchizedek was a preincarnate manifestation of the Eternal Son just as the numerous other O.T. Theophanies.
The biblical accounts present a variety of preincarnate Christological appearances. The whole chapter of Gen. 18 speaks about the Lord’s visit to Abraham and Sarah as an enhanced man along with angel helpers, who also resembled men. The Lord, in this manifestation, promised Abraham a son through Sarah, and also bargained with Abraham over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses experienced manifestations of the Lord in both a “burning bush” (Ex. 3.2) and “seeing form of the Lord” (Ex. 33.11, Num. 12.8). To Joshua, the Lord appeared as a warrior with a drawn sword (Josh. 5.13-15). Also, the book of Judges presents the Angel of the Lord in several ways, mostly as a man, again, no doubt enhanced.
Probably the strongest verse to prove the point that Melchizedek was divine is Heb. 7.3: without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever (NIV). Every human has both a mother and father, but not Melchizedek. Further, it cannot mean he was an orphan since that fact would hardly be unique for the author of Hebrews to mention as part of his argument. Neither did he argue for Melchizedek’s exceptional status if “without beginning of days or end of life” meant that those facts were not recorded since many people, ancient and modern, don’t have birth records. The clause “made like” or “resembling” refer to the type of manifestation. This meeting was in the King’s Valley of the future Israelite Jerusalem where He would one day function as a priest for all humanity. Notice how He brought out bread and wine like Jesus would many years hence. Neither is an animal sacrifice mentioned since one day He would be the ultimate offering which the animal victims only suggest.
Also, how could the author of Hebrews claim with any credibility that Melchizedek “remains a priest forever” if he were not referring to the Eternal Son who both appeared as the Theophany and later would “become flesh?” It makes no sense to describe a human figure, let alone a foreign priest, in such exalted language. The only reasonable solution of Melchizedek’s reference in Hebrews is to regard Him as the preincarnate Divine Son.