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“King of Righteousness”

By:  David Deschesne

   Melchizedek is the English cognate of the Hebrew word מלכּ-צדק.   מלכּ-צדק is a compound word,  מלכּ  Melek, which means “king” and צדק Tsedeq, which means “righteous.”

   Melchizedek disappeared from the scene as mysteriously as he appeared.

   As the King of Salem, Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God and to whom Abraham went to be blessed after he and over three hundred of his servants went to rescue is kidnapped nephew, Lot.1

   After that brief mention of Melchizedek in Genesis, the only other mention of him is in Psalm 110:4, where the psalmist laments on the Lord’s attributes being “after the order of Melchizedek.”

   Since Melchizedek has such a brief mention in the Bible there are very few facts or commentaries available to describe him.

    Melchizedek seems to have been mentioned on the Tel-el-Amarna tablets of ancient Egypt.  More than three hundred of these clay tablets were discovered by a woman in 1887 at Tel-el-Amarna, capital of the Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten (1353-1335 B.C.).  These tablets also describe the ‘Apiru - the cognate of today’s word “Hebrew” and how they were taking control of various cities at the time.2

   “Salem is most probably Jerusalem [Salem] which is called on the Tel-el-Amarna Tablets Uru-Salim or city of Salim…There are interesting statements with regard to the king of Uru-Salim on the Tel-el-Amarna tablets.  He begs for help from Egypt, saying “that he was not like the other Egyptian governors in Palestine, nor had he received his crown by inheritance from his father or mother; it had been conferred on him by ‘the mighty king,’” who is distinguished from the king of Egypt, and thought by some to mean “the Most High God.”3  

   “However it is explained there is a striking similarity to the priest-king Melchizedek, and the description in Heb. 7:3.  There is something surprising and mysterious in the first appearance of Melchizedek, and in the subsequent reference to him.  Bearing a title which Jews in after ages would recognize as designating their own sovereign, bearing gifts which recall to Christians the Lord’s Supper, this Canaanite crosses for a moment the path of Abram, and is unhesitatingly recognized as a person of higher spiritual rank than the friend of God.  Disappearing as suddenly as he came, he is lost to the sacred writings for a thousand years.  Jewish tradition pronounces Melchizedek to be a survivor of the deluge, the patriarch Shem.”4

    In the highly controversial, seemingly Apocryphal commentary, the Urantia Book, they state:  “Heretofore it had been  believed that salvation could be secured only by works - sacrifices and offerings; now, Melchizedek again brought to Urantia (Earth) the good news that salvation, favor with God, is to be had by faith.  But this gospel of simple faith in God was too advanced; the Semitic Tribesmen subsequently preferred to go back to the older sacrifices and atonement for sin by the shedding of blood.”5

    The Urantia Book further goes on to describe Melchizedek’s sudden unexplained disappearance as being transformed back into Heaven6 similar to the way Enoch was taken in Genesis 5:24.

   The Apostle Paul describes Melchizedek as “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”7

   Each time Melchizedek is referred to it is as a type of the priesthood of Christ.  ‘The Melchizedek type of priesthood is, first, a royal priesthood (king of righteousness); second, a righteous priesthood (king of righteousness); third , a priesthood promotive of peace, or exercised in the country of peace (king of Salem = king of peace); fourth, a personal, not an inherited, dignity (without father, without mother, i.e. so far as the record is concerned); fifth, it is an eternal priesthood (without beginning of days or end of life - so far as the record is concerned)’8



1.  Gen 14:18

2.  The Book of Hiram, ©2003 Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, p. 139.

3.  Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, ©1925 John C. Winston Co., pp. 398-399

4.   ibid

5. The Urantia Book, ©1995 Urantia Foundation, pp. 1020-1021.

6.  ibid, p. 1022-1024

7.  Hebrews 7:3

8.  The One Bible Commentary, ©1909 MacMillan Company, p. 24