king of righteousness, the king of Salem (q.v.). All we know of
him is recorded in Gen. 14:18-20. He is subsequently mentioned
only once in the Old Testament, in Ps. 110:4. The typical
significance of his history is set forth in detail in the
Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. 7. The apostle there points out the
superiority of his priesthood to that of Aaron in these several
respects, (1) Even Abraham paid him tithes; (2) he blessed
Abraham; (3) he is the type of a Priest who lives for ever; (4)
Levi, yet unborn, paid him tithes in the person of Abraham; (5)
the permanence of his priesthood in Christ implied the
abrogation of the Levitical system; (6) he was made priest not
without an oath; and (7) his priesthood can neither be
transmitted nor interrupted by death: "this man, because he
continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood."

The question as to who this mysterious personage was has given
rise to a great deal of modern speculation. It is an old
tradition among the Jews that he was Shem, the son of Noah, who
may have survived to this time. Melchizedek was a Canaanite
prince, a worshipper of the true God, and in his peculiar
history and character an instructive type of our Lord, the great
High Priest (Heb. 5:6, 7; 6:20). One of the Amarna tablets is
from Ebed-Tob, king of Jerusalem, the successor of Melchizedek,
in which he claims the very attributes and dignity given to
Melchizedek in the Epistle to the Hebrews.