BY: Steven E Daskal
This is a simple question at one level, and a much more complex one beyond that. It is one of my favorite Biblical conundrums, because we know quite a bit, yet so little. BTW, while Melchizedek is commonly used, the pronunciation and Hebrew spelling reflect Melkhizedek (the KH being the sound common to Semitic and Slavic languages, while CH is the sound common to many linguistic families, as found in “Church” or “Chalice”). I tend to use the KH version.
At the simplest level, it is a reference back to Abram’s (later Abraham) life in Genesis:
(Gen 14:17-24 NIV84) After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me — to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”