Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
Genesis 14 describes a battle between an army from Mesopotamia against some of the kings surrounding Abraham in the land of Canaan. We read that Lot and his people and possessions (Lot had become very wealthy) were taken captive (verses 14-17). Abraham took 318 of his servants and in a surprise attack at night routed the invading army, recovering Lot, his goods and all the people who had been taken captive in the process.
After this daring rescue operation, we are introduced to an interesting person—Melchizedek.
Though we are not given many details about this individual here in Genesis, we do learn five important things about Melchizedek:
- He served as “king of Salem.” Salem is a shortened form of Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2), but it’s also important to remember that the literal meaning of salem is peace. So, Melchizedek’s title could also be “the king of peace.”
- He served as “the priest of God Most High.” A priest served as an intermediary between God and the people by officiating over sacrifices and offerings (Hebrews 8:3; 10:11).
- He blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:19-20). Blessings ultimately come from God toward human beings (James 1:17).
- He received tithes from Abraham (Genesis 14:20). This shows us that Abraham gave a 10th (a tithe) of the goods to Melchizedek. This verse shows that the law of tithing existed before it was later codified in Leviticus 27:32.
Melchizedek was more than a king over a geographical location in Canaan. Tomorrow’s commentary will explore the significance and identity of this individual.
To learn more about Melchizedek, read our article “Who Was Melchizedek?”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “The Amazing Identity of Melchizedek.”