What Is the Order of Melchizedek?

בס״ד

What is the most quoted chapter of the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament?

Psalm 110, where it’s written,

“The L-RD says to my lord,
    “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool…”

 The L-RD has sworn and will not change his mind,
    “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.””

Psalm 110:1, 4

These verses are quoted in reference to Yeshua as Messiah. If this is such an important Psalm in the New Testament, what is the Order of Melchizedek anyway? To understand, we should know who Melchizedek was.

Melchizedek is not really a name, but actually a title. Melchizedek (מלכי-צדק) is composed of two separate Hebrew words, Melchi (מלכי) and Zedek (צדק), which Hebrews 7:2 tells us means, “King of Righteousness.”

Where do we see mention of this King of Righteousness? In Genesis 14,

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of G-D Most High. And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of G-D Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;

Genesis 14:18-19

So who was this King of Righteousness? He was the King of Salem and the priest of G-D Most High. Where was Salem?

In Salem also is HIS tabernacle,
And HIS dwelling place in Zion.

-Psalm 76:2

Salem, from where we get Jeru-Salem, is another name for Zion. Melchizedek was the King of Jerusalem and priest of G-D Most High. In the Bible, kings and priests generally receive their office as an heir of their father. So what was Melchizedek’s name and from whom did he receive his kingship of Jerusalem and priesthood?

Jewish oral tradition tells us that Melchizedek was none other than Shem, the son of Noah, who was alive at the time of Abraham. By implication, Shem, and not Ham or Japheth, received the kingship of Jerusalem and priesthood from his father, Noah. From whom did Noah receive this position? Ultimately, from Adam, the first man.

Adam

Adam was the gardener of the Garden of Eden. According to Jewish tradition, the Garden of Eden is the same geographic location as Jerusalem. We see this is Ezekiel 28,

You were in Eden, the garden of G-D…
You were on the holy mountain of G-D;

Ezekiel 28:13a, 14b

There is one place called the “holy mountain of G-D” in the Bible, and that’s Zion. So the Garden of Eden and G-D’s Temple were both in Zion and each were the Place of G-D’s dwelling. In fact, the Temple mirrored the Garden and the priest mirrored the gardener. In fact, the gardener of Eden, Adam, was the first priest. He was king for no greater reason than he was the “son of G-D,” as it’s written in Luke 3:38, and heir of his Father and Great King, G-D. What does it mean to be a priest? To tend the place of G-D’s presence and that is what a gardener should do.

When Adam sinned, he was removed from the Garden of Eden, as we see later in the Bible when the first two Temples were destroyed because the people and priests of Israel walked in rebellion towards G-D. Connection to G-D’s presence in Zion was lost to Adam as with the destruction of the Temples.

Everything that follows in Scripture points our eyes back to Zion, the Place of HIS dwelling, and the hope of a King and Priest who could show us how to properly tend and keep the Garden of G-D’s Presence, which Adam failed to do…

Seth, Enoch, & Noah

Adam’s firstborn son, Cain, would have inherited the Priesthood and Kingdom. Because of Cain’s failure as a priest to bring an acceptable offering and his consequent murder of his brother, Abel, Cain implicitly lost this inheritance and it was given to Seth’s descendants. This office was passed from father to firstborn son, to Enoch, whom pseudepigraphal works, such as the Book of Jasher, describe as king over all the kings of the earth. Next, Methuselah and Noah received this office, who along with his family was preserved from the Flood.

Shem

Noah’s firstborn son, Shem, inherited the Kingdom and Priesthood from his father. It is this Shem that the Sages of Israel identify as Melchizedek. Interestingly, it is also from Shem that we receive the word, ‘Semite,’ a descendant of Shem. In other words, antisemites are opposed to the descendants of the King of Righteousness.

Fascinatingly, the title ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew (משיח) contains the two Hebrew words, ‘Shem Chai (שם חי),’ which means, ‘Shem lives!’ The Messiah is to continue the dynasty of Shem, the Order of Melchizedek!

Abraham

The Sages of Israel say that in Abraham and Melchizedek’s interaction, written about in Genesis 14, G-D was transferring the Priesthood and Kingdom from Melchizedek to Abraham, not merely because Abraham was an heir of Shem, but because of Abraham’s personal merit as a righteous man. This transference of the Priesthood and Kingdom to Abraham is why G-D promised Melchizedek’s Land, the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, to Abraham while Melchizedek was still alive. This is also why Abraham was promised innumerable descendants, among whom would be the heirs of this Priesthood and Kingdom. This is the Covenant that G-D made with Avraham.

No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  I will establish my covenant between ME and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be G-D to you and to your offspring after you.

-Genesis 17:5-7

And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, Hear us, my lord: You are a prince of G-D among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”

-Genesis 23:5

Isaac & Jacob

The Kingdom and Priesthood was passed to Isaac through Abraham’s legitimate marriage with Sarah, and not to Ishmael, his illegitimate son, although blessings came upon him as well. Isaac’s son, Esau, would have inherited the Kingdom and Priesthood from his father, except that he sold his birthright to his brother and Jacob deceived Isaac in order to receive the conference of this office through his father’s blessing. G-D’s Promise of the Land of the Kingdom, the Place of the Temple, and numerous descendants was repeated to both Isaac and Jacob. This is why we see such fierce battles between brothers over this firstborn inheritance, whether it was between Cain & Abel, Shem & Ham, Isaac & Ishmael, or Jacob & Esau.

G-D said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. G-D said to him, “I am G-D ALMIGHTY: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

-Genesis 35:10-12

Judah & Levi

The Sages of Israel say that Reuben would’ve received the Kingdom and Priesthood from Jacob as the firstborn, except that he defiled his father’s bed. Simon was the only son of Jacob who married a Canaanite woman, something which was forbidden to both Isaac and Jacob because of the curse placed on Canaan and his descendants after Ham’s sin. This curse was effectively a disqualification for Canaan’s descendants to receive the Priesthood and Kingdom. The Sages say that Levi was unworthy of inheriting the Kingdom because of his anger in killing the men of Shechem and the sale of his brother Joseph. However, the Sages say that Levi received the Priesthood while Judah received the Kingdom. It was at this point that the Kingdom and the Priesthood became divided into two separate offices, whereas up until this point they were both inherited by the same person, in like manner as Adam, Melchizedek, and Abraham, their fathers. Now, we see the difference between the Levitical priesthood, which excludes kingship of Jerusalem, and the priesthood order of Melchizedek, which includes kingship of Jerusalem. So how does this split between Kingship and Priesthood become reconciled once again, as it was for Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? We are told prophetically that it will be reconciled in the figure of the Messiah.

Moses, Aaron, & Phineas

Moses, of the tribe of Levi, led the people of Israel out of Egypt, and the Priesthood was promised by G-D to his brother Aaron and his descendants forever.

Interestingly, we are told that Elisheva, Aaron’s wife, was the sister of the leader of the Tribe of Judah, Nachshon, and herself a descendant of Judah. So here we see the foreshadowing of the uniting of the Kingdom and Priesthood in Aaron, of Levi, and Elisheva, of Judah, the parents of the Aaronic priesthood.

Because of Phineas’ zeal in avenging G-D’s jealousy against Zimri and Cozbi, G-D promised the Priesthood to Phineas’ descendants forever as a Covenant of Peace.

Caleb & Miriam

In Sotah 11b of the Talmud, we learn that Caleb of the Tribe of Judah, and Miriam, of the Tribe of Levi, marry and they both are ancestors of David, the father of the Messiah. Again, a joining of Levi, the priesthood, and Judah, the kingdom, to form the Messianic lineage!

The Judges

We see another foreshadowing of the union of the Kingdom and Priesthood in the Book of Judges…

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there.

-Judges 17:6-7

The first time that we see the final phrase of the Book of Judges, “in those days there was no king in Israel,” the immediate verse says that a major conflict in Israel was started due to a Levite from Bethlehem who was, coincidentally, of the family of Judah.

The second and final context where we see the phrase, “there was no king in Israel,” is when a civil war was begun in Israel. Why was it begun? Because of a “certain Levite” and his “concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.” Again, “there was no king in Israel,” “Bethlehem,” “Levite,” and “Judah.”

In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite, residing in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.

-Judges 19:1

It’s almost as if the answer to the problem of “no king in Israel” is foreshadowed in the two stories where the problem is most sharply expressed.

David & Zadok

After Eli’s failure as High Priest and Saul’s failure as King, G-D promised the Kingdom to David, a descendant of Judah, and to David’s descendants forever by making a covenant with him. During David’s Kingdom, Abiathar and Zadok both served as High Priest together in tandem. When Abiathar joined in Adonijah’s rebellion, Zadok remained loyal to the rightful King of Israel, Solomon. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, Zadok and his descendants were promised by G-D exclusive rights to the Priesthood, forever.

Messiah

In Psalm 110, it is written that David’s “Lord,” the Messiah, will be a “priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” So what is the order of Melchizedek? Melchizedek was both Priest of G-D Most High and King of Jerusalem, as was Adam before him and Abraham after. So how can the Messiah be “according to the order of Melchizedek,” if the Kingdom is promised through David (tribe of Judah) and the Priesthood is through Zadok (tribe of Levi)? 

Only by joining King (In Hebrew, Melech, מלך) David’s line and the Priestly line (Zadok, צדק) can the Messiah be “according to the order of Melchizedek (מלכי-צדק, notice the connection between the words, ‘Melech,’ ‘Zadok,’ and ‘Melchizedek?’).” It is as if the order of Melchizedek is the perfect combination between the Malchut (Kingdom) of David HaMelech (the King) and the Priesthood of Zadok. We conclude that the Messiah should come through the descent of both King (Melech) David and the Chosen Priest (Zadok). 

Mary & Elizabeth

Do we see Yeshua coming from the line of both David and Zadok? Actually, yes, we do. Mary, Yeshua’s mother, was a descendant of David as well as a close relative of Elizabeth, who is called in Luke 1:5, “a daughter of Aaron.” This means that Mary descended from both David and Aaron, Judah and Levi (as also evinced by multiple ancestors of Mary’s named, ‘Levi,’ a name rarely given in Israel except to Levites). Yeshua’s father, Joseph, was also a descendant of David and the Kings of Israel.

Zechariah & John

We see Mary’s descent from Zadok alluded to by various Hebraisms used in the Gospels. For example, it is written about Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, that “they were both righteous (צדיקים, Zadikim) before G-D,  living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the L-RD (Luke 1:6).” If Elizabeth and Zechariah were Zadokim (צדוקים, ‘descendants of Zadok’), this is a striking allusion. Also, it was when Zechariah offered incense alone at the altar that the angel Gabriel appeared to him and brought him glad tidings. If Zechariah was not a descendant of Zadok, would the angel have confirmed him in his sin, appearing to him while he was offering incense which G-D said through the Prophet Ezekiel belonged only to the descendants of Zadok? Yeshua spoke to John, his cousin and fellow priest, concerning his own immersion in the Jordan, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness (הצדק, ‘HaZedek’; Matthew 3:15b).” Yeshua told the chief priests, who were not rightfully heirs at that time, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness (צדקה, ‘Zedakah’), and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him (Matthew 21:32).” The peculiar usages of these words, all with the same root as ‘Zadok,’ referring to John and his parents, Yeshua’s relatives, are some of many indications that Zechariah, John, and Yeshua were all descendants of Zadok, the Rightful Heir to the Priesthood.

Yeshua, the Last Adam

In Judaism, the name Adam is written with three letters (א-ד-מ) which represents an acronym for the line of kings starting with Adam and ending with the Messiah:

(Adam) אאדם

(David) דדוד

(Messiah) ממשיח

That Yeshua is called the King of Israel tells us that he is from the line of David. So too, that Yeshua is called our High Priest tells us that he must be from the line of Zadok, the only rightful heir to the Priesthood. Yeshua being both King of Jerusalem and High Priest makes him “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,” which is also the order of Adam. This is why in 1 Corinthians 15:45, Yeshua is called, “the Last Adam,” because he is like Adam as both the High Priest and the King of Jerusalem, “the firstborn son of G-D.” This is why, in the Gospel of John, Yeshua appears to Mary Magdalene as a gardener after his resurrection in Jerusalem, the place of Eden. Yeshua is the man who, because of his obedience and righteous example, the L-RD G-D will take and put “in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it,” in the New Jerusalem.

There is much more to be written on this topic, but that should suffice for now…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s