New Testament Commentary - Hebrews Chapter 7

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
              CHAPTER 7

The Melchizedek Priesthood brings exaltation and administers the gospel—It is received with an oath and covenant—Superiority of the Melchizedek over the Aaronic Priesthood—Salvation comes through the intercession of Christ.

  1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salema, apriest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
  2 To whom also Abraham gave a atenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of brighteousness, and after that also King of cSalem, which is, King of peace;
  3 aWithout father, without mother, without descent, having neither abeginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a cpriest continually.

The word title 'Melchizedek' literally means 'King of Righteousness'. 'Melch' means 'Prince' or 'King' and 'izedek' or 'tsedeq' means 'justice, rightness or righteousness'. This name of Melchizedek was not that great King and High Priest's original name. Just who that Priest and King was according to Jewish tradition and President John Taylor is Shem the son of Noah or at least the rightful heir of Shem, his descendant, who obtained that priesthood through him. Thus Shem (or his heir) was renamed by a name of God. And Melchizedek is one of the names of God, the Most High. For Jehovah himself was so called by that name from the beginning. He being the King of Righteousness upon whom the Father did bestow the fulness unto Jehovah being our appointed God of this Second Estate, both the God of its creation and the God of its salvation. For to minister unto this estate, one need pertain unto it (D&C 130:5), and thus the Father anointed His Firstborn Son in the Spirit to so stand in the stead of the Father in all things whatsoever as is the patern revealed by that which the High Priest of the Temple's office did reveal (Leviticus 16:32).

Thus when we are said to use the name of Melchizedek in reference to the high priesthood of the Son of God to avoid the too frequent use of the Holy Name of God, we are in fact calling not merely by the name of a man, but also by one of the very titles of Jehovah himself from the beginning, he being the King of Righteous, the author of the covenant of salvation from the beginning as anointed by the Father unto that end.

 1a Melchisedec, king of Salem Now the name of the place where Melchizedek did dwell and rule over his people was called Salem. Yet the name Salem was itself taken from the more ancient root word 'Shalam' (strong number 7999). And that more ancient name by which the place called Salem is named does mean 'to be in a covenant of peace'. And as well be discussed here by Paul, the very priesthood of Melchizedek is such as does come by was of a covenant and an oath. And it is this covenant and oath which brings men unto perfection in God to there salvation forever more. As it is established by the JST, this was the end of Melchizedek and his people, for like unto Enoch, they did fulfill the intent and purpose of the covenent unto the salvation of translation unto God. This is the purpose and the end intent of the priesthood of Melchizedek, to bring men unto God's salvation and exaltation in perfecting the saints by imputing to them the perfection of righteousness by the atonement of the Messiah, even Jesus Christ.
  4 Now consider how great this man wasa, unto whom even the apatriarch Abraham gave the tenthb of the spoils.
  5 And verily they that are of the sons of aLevi, who receive the boffice of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
  6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promisesa.
 4a how great this man was Just who was Melechizedek? To the mind of the Jew, Abraham was the greatest of the fathers for it was by being of Abraham's seed that they were the 'chosen people', the children of God's Covnant with man. To the Jew, if you were not of the seed of Abraham, you were nothing, a mere inferior not worthy to stand with those who were the children of Abraham. They did not consider that it was those of Abraham who would serve the rest of the world in bring the blessing of Abraham to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Rather they presumed the pride of the position is that all the earth would bow down and pay homage to those of 'the seed' of Abraham. In this they did confuse themselves with the position of the 'Promised Seed' of Abraham who was to be the very Son of Abraham by whom the promises would find fulfillment in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 'the Promised Seed' of the covenant of Abraham.
 4b even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth To the Jews it was a thing of marvel that their Great Patriarch Abraham would submit his devotion to another greater than he. But in this they do not understand the order of heaven or the patriarchal order. For which 'son' is greater that his 'father'? Lucifer made the error is so attempting to make himself the greater. But Jehovah did not. He gave all glory unto the Father. Likewise was Abraham greater than one of his Fathers? Certainly not! Thus Abraham did pay his tithes to him who was his higher in the Patriarchal order of Heaven. Just because it was to be Noah by whom the blessings of the fathers did remain, it did not make Noah greater than his progenitor Enoch whose city was translated. Likewise Abraham was not to be made greater than Melchizedek just because it was through Abraham that the promises would continue in his seed after that Melchizedek and his city was translated.
 6a him that had the promises Enoch had prayed and obtained the answer from the Lord that the covenant of salvation would remain in the earth through his descendant Noah. Now in considering the line of 'the fathers' through whom the promised remained, it came down through Adam, Enoch and Noah and other in between of. They all were 'fathers of the promises' or by whom the promise of the covenant of salvation did remain. From Noah it fell to Shem and/or Melchizedek and then to Abraham. Is Noah, Shem and/or Melchizedek any less of the bearer of the promises of the fathers than Abraham? NOT! Thus when Abraham paid his tithes unto Melchizedek, it should be of little wonder. For though it would be through Abrham's seed that the promises would remain, Shem himself remained in the earth after the death of a 175 year old Abraham for another 5 years. And even an adult Isaac of some 75 years would have fallen under the fatherhood of a living Shem, the great high priest as noted by President Joseph F. Smith (D&C 138:41).
  7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
  8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
  9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
  10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met hima.

Is Melchizedek Shem? 
It has been of some discussion as to the identify of Melchizedek. Jewish tradition states Melchizedek to be the same as Shem. President John Taylor also has stated that Melchizedek is the same as Shem. President Joseph F. Smith identifies Shem as the 'great high priest', which is also how Melchizedek is so denoted as being the great high priest after whom the priesthood is named. And now here in Hebrews there is additional contributing evidence in the curious saying that Melchizedek did meet Levi while he was still in the loins of his father.
 10a he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him This seems to be a strange saying that Levi whose descendants would hold the priesthood after the order of Aaron was at the time of his meeting with Melchizedek still in the loins of his father Jacob. But one much consider when it was that Melchizedek and/or Shem did depart this earth's mortality. Shem lived 80 years beyond the birth of Isaac, thus Isaac was 80 years old when Shem departed this realm. Isaac married Rebekah at the age of 40 and though to start Rebekah was barren for about 19 years, it would seem that Jacob and Esau were indeed born before Isaac was age eighty as Genesis 25:26 states that Isaac was three score or age 60 at the birth of his sons. Thus Jacob was alive and age 20 at the date of the departure of Shem and/or Melchizedek. For, thus when Melchizedek did meet Levi who was yet to be born of Jacob in the world of spirits to come, Levi was still merely in the loins of his father Jacob. Thus it would seem that Melchizedek did remain in the earth until after the birth of Jacob as the seed of Levi is stated to be in the loins of his living father Jacob when it was that Melchizedek first meets Levi in the realm of heaven. This narrows the time of Melchizedek's departure to between the birth of Jacob and the Birth of Levi. Shem and perhaps Eber are the only ones of the priestly line from Noah to so quilify as living on earth til that time. One side note, if Melchizedek and his city still was existant after the birth of Jacob, then indeed Moriah where Abraham offered up Isaac in sacrifice could not be located at Salem but according to the Bible Dictionary it was in the lands of Shechem (See Moriah).
Also, this seems to reveal much concerning the nature of the unseen world of premortal spirits and their associations with those who have lived in mortality in this life, at least in the person of Melchizedek who with his city was translated and take to heaven. For in that heaven did the translated Melchizedek meet the unborn spirit of Levi while yet Levi was in the lions of his father Jacob who was at that point in time living in mortality upon the earth.
  11 If therefore aperfection were by the bLevitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
  12 For the apriesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
  13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribea, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
  14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of aJudaa; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthoodb.
 13a he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe What is stated here is that the Melchizedek priesthood or the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek is not according to the order of the priesthood of Aaron and thus the Savior Jesus Christ was not of Levitical descent and the right to the Melchizedek priesthood did not come by way of the Levites.
 14a it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda There is no argument that Mary the mother of Jesus and Joseph the adoptive father of Jesus were descendants of Judah by blood being descended of Obed the son of Ruth by the fathering of Boaz. But was Obed the legal and rightful heir of Boaz? To this end it must be pointed out that Obed was not legally or rightfully the heir of the house of Boaz and there foreth neither was he of the house of Judah. For Boaz was the first born of Ruth the former wife of Mahlon the son of Elimelech. And Boaz of his own word did but raise up seed to the dead (Ruth 4:5 & 10) according to that Law of Moses which governs raising up seed to the dead and marriage to a once married but childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). And Mahlon and his father's house were Ephrathites, meaning they were of the tribe of Ephraim as were Nun and his son Joshua before them. And here in lies the right of the promises of the fathers unto the house of Jesse and David though David of his own accord chose Judah over Israel (Ephraim) though the later held the greater right in David. And that being the right of the priesthood (D&C 86:8-11; D&C 107:40; D&C 113:6) and to the descendancy of the Messiah (See Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph).
   Now because Paul was a highly schooled Pharasee, there is no reason for Paul to consider Jesus anything but a Jew. The whole of the Jewish perspective scriptures of the Bible was written from the perspective that 'Judah had prevailed above his brethren'. It is not an Ephraimite or Josephite perspective from which the Covenant of Abraham going forth to the blessing of the nations in the latter-days can or should be based. That was not of a prime concern in Paul's day. What was a prime concern was that Jesus was the Son of David. And King David was a Jew. He has selected his Jewish blood line over Israel or Ephraim even though Israel held the greater right in David. And tha right was not just because Isreal supported David against his son's usurping to the kingship. It was because the greater right concerned the rights of the blessings of the Covenant which actually go beyond mere priesthood, as the Melchizedek priesthood may be bestowed upon anyone so called of God. But what covenant rights to the blessings of the fathers came by descent. Even Joseph Smith was stated in the Doctrine and Covenants that his 'covenant right' in the priesthood came by his genealogical descent. And Brigham Young states he was a 'pure Ephraimite'. But the indication of D&C 113, is that Joseph Smith was a descendant of Jesse as well as of Joseph and Ephraim. And how can that be except the linage of Jesse track linerally back through Ephraim and Joseph by legal right and the Law of God through Obed the seed raised up to the dead Mahlon, who was an Ephrathite even as Joshua and Nun were also stated to be Ephrathites meaning of the tribe of Ephraim?
 14b of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood It is both true and significant that Moses spaken nothing of the tribe of Judah concerning the priesthood. Moses himself was a priest after the order of Melchizedek being a prophet of God. The next prophet of God, Moses' successor' was Joshua who would have also held the higher of melchizedek priesthood. Joshua was the rightful heir of Ephraim to the order of the blessings of the fathers which was preserved in Joseph (D&C 27:10). And while the Melchizedek Priesthood does not come by way of the tribe of Judah, there is scriptural evidence that it is linage bound to some degree in the fulfilling of the promises of the fathers to the saints of the latter-day as it states:
  15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
  16 Who is made, not after the law of a acarnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
  17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of aMelchisedec.
  18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the aweakness and unprofitableness thereof.
  19 aFor the law made nothing bperfect, but the bringing in of a cbetter hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
  20 And inasmuch as not without an aoath he was made priest:
  21 (For those apriests were made without an oath; but this with an boath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
  22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better atestament.
  23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
  24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable apriesthood.
  25 Wherefore he is able also to save them ato the uttermost that bcome unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make cintercession for them.
  26 aFor such an bhigh priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, cseparate from dsinners, and made ehigher than the fheavens;
  27 Who needeth not adaily, as those high priests, to offer up bsacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did conce, when he aoffered up himself.
  28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the aoath, which was since the law, maketh the bSon, who is cconsecrated for evermore.
Hebrews Home
Commentary Home
Family Home