Few mysteries of the Bible have attracted more interest than the mystery of the identity of Melchizedek. He is mentioned in Genesis 14:14-20; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10, 6:20, 7:1-17; but Hebrews 7:1-3 is the most intriguing:

7 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High.He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Some Christian commentators see Melchizedek as Pre-incarnate Christ---I am not convinced. Can anybody provides evidence that there are no possible scribal errors on Hebrews 7:1-3 (given the description 'without beginning of days or end of life'; I mean I do feel there is some error in Hebrews 7:1-3), or might it be that I misunderstood the whole Hebrews 7:1-3?


6 Answers 6


Hebrews 7:1-3:

For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 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.

Fred L. Horton Jr. Says in The Melchizedek Tradition, page 153, the reason for this strange interpretation of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20 is almost universally said to be the sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance in Genesis 14 of the very first priest in the Torah. Although Horton is not entirely convinced by this consensus regarding the portrayal of Melchizedek in Hebrews, it may point to reasons for what I describe in the next paragraph.

In a paper presented at the Jesus Conference, Anders Aschim mentions a pesher from Qumran mentioning Melchizedek (11QMelch), that was published in 1965. The text is fragmentary, but in it Melchizedek seems to appear at the end of days as a heavenly/angelic warrior, judge, and high priest. He atones for the "Sons of Light" at the great Day of Atonement which introduces the redemption of the final jubilee of history, and he defeats "Belial and his lot," executing judgment on behalf of God. Here we can see non-canonical evidence that Melchizedek was seen as a heavenly high priest.

Yet another non-canonical source, quite outside mainstream Christian tradition is the Gnostic gospel, Pistis Sophia. In this (for example, Book 1, chapter 25) Melchizedek is the heavenly 'Receiver of the Light'. Pistis Sophia was written at least a century or two later than Hebrews but it supports the view that some in the Judeo-Christian tradition saw Melchizedek as a heavenly priest, with no father or mother and everlasting. Hebrews itself portrays Jesus, post-resurrection, as a heavenly priest in the order of Melchizedek, so this all makes sense from a particular theological perspective.

  • +1 for The Melchizedek Tradition, an important study. I just ordered it from Amazon!
    – nasraya
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 7:36
  • +1 Thank you. I will use your explanation as a beginning for more investigation. Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 13:10
  • Is it possible that the quote ends at verse 2 and verse 3 is the author of Hebrews speaking?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 17:03

There is no error in the text, it just sounds like you misunderstood what the author of Hebrews was trying to express. Hebrews ch 7 is explaining how Yahuwshuwa HaMashiyach (Jesus Christ) fulfills Psalm 110 as being the Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Melchisedec is a very important person in the Old testament, even though only few verses are written about him. Since you talked about the first three verses, we will break them down. All throughout the book of Hebrews the author uses the Hebrew scriptures (from the LXX translated greek version) to prove his points about Yahuwshuwa and the new covenant. Every argument he uses is straight from the scriptures and can be checked by anybody, he doesn't bring any arguments from secret sources outside the scriptures. he is writing to Hebrew people using the Hebrew scriptures to prove Yahuwshuwa is the Hebrew Messiah. So anyone there with the scriptures can follow along with the author.

in Hebrews ch 7 the Author is making an argument from genesis 14:17-24:

17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

He is using these verses to prove that Yahuwshuwa fulfills Psalm 110:

Psalm 110 (KJV)

1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

> 4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

Every thing the author of the book of Hebrews is using in Hebrew Ch.7 can be found in these verses from genesis 14 and psalm 110, which are the only times Melchisedec is mentioned in the scriptures.

the Author is trying to show the similarities between Melchisedec and Yahuwshuwa.

Here are the first 3 verses of Hebrew 7:

Hebrews 7 (KJV)

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest 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 tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3 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.

In verse 1 the author introduces who Melchisedec is according to the scriptures, a king and priest of Salem who met Abraham returning from his victory against the kings.

In verse 2 the authors tells us about the tithe Abraham gave to Melchisedec, then interprets the name of melchisedec as meaning king of righteousness, then he interprets king of Salem as meaning king of Peace. He is doing this to connect it to Yahuwshuwa who is also king of righteousness and peace, who is also above Abraham.

So far everything he has been saying has been from Genesis 14 to prove Psalm 110. Nothing changes in verse 3 and the rest of the chapter.

In verse 3 it says Melchisedec is without father, mother, descent, having no beginning of days or end of life. So what was meant by this? there are all kinds of crazy theories about who Melchisedec is because of this verse. But again the author is not using any secret sources, he is using the scriptures for people to follow along his arguments.

Genealogy is Very important to the Hebrew people, its made evident through the extensive geneologies recorded and preserved. We can see the birth, amount of years lived, the fathers, and the death of the bloodline of Seth going to Noah is Genesis 5. we see their "father, descent, beginning of days, and their end of life" recorded for all to see. Then we can go to Genesis 11:27 and see the birth of Abram ( Abraham), and his father being Terah. Then in Ch 25 we can read about his death and how many years he lived. We can do the same thing for Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Moses, Aaron, Samuel, David, and all the kings of Judah and Israel. We can go to each of these men and find their birth recorded, how many years they lived, their death, who their fathers were, and most of them we can read about who their mothers were. Its all there for us to read.

BUT when we go to Genesis 14, Melchisedec pops in out of nowhere. And he has such an high status that even Abraham paid a tithe to him and was blessed by him. But nothing is recorded about his birth, death, or parents, which is very unusual in the scriptures for a man of such high status even above Abraham. But what the author is Hebrews is trying to show us is, that the genealogy was purposely left out, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to symbolically represent and prophecy the everlasting Priesthood that would come after the order of this man, which would be above the Order of Aaron, since the levites paid tithes through Abraham their father to Melchisedec ( Heb 7:9). This is why his birth or death is not recorded. Then the rest of Hebrews 7 continues to use genesis 14 and psalm 110 to show all the similarities between Melchisedec's and Yahuwshuwa's priesthood.


The writer of Hebrews has this to say concerning Melchisedec, “Of whom we have many things to say and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11-King James Version, 1769).

The entire Melchizedek (or Melchisedec if you like) account is totally inerrant. He appears on the scene suddenly (Genesis 14:18-20) and disappears without a trace (Hebrews 7:3). This account has led to many speculation concerning him, some say that he is one of the members of the Godhead, others say that he was Shem - but there is only one human being that can fulfill this requirement and it is not Shem. The writer of Hebrews says that he is still alive at the time of the writing of the book (Hebrews 7:8) What is important here is that he was made a "type" of Christ and not the other way around (Hebrews 7:3). It has always been my opinion that Melchisedec needs Jesus for salvation because all men do. God in his infinite wisdom created an occasion to bring forth a type of Christ as a shadow of the real Saviour of the world.

In order to explain to “Iesouslufend" as to why there are no scribal errors we need to understand the person of Melchisedec. Firstly he is a man (Heb 7:4); secondly, a priest and prophet; thirdly, a king of Salem; fourthly, he had a lineage (Heb7:6) which means he is a natural man; fifthly, he is still alive (Heb 7:8) which means he has not tasted death as yet and therefore cannot refer to a spirit being; sixthly, he had to span the flood of Noah because he appeared when Shem was on the earth, he was “without father or mother” at that time and not even Shem would have known who he was. The bible is clear that whilst Noah was in the ark with seven other human beings, there was another human being that was, and still is - alive see Genesis 5:24. Since God is a respecter of no persons, this person has to die Heb 9:27 (except those that get raptured).

Now picture this, when Enoch appeared as a shadow of Christ (Heb 8:5) no one knew who he was. He was without mother or father, he was without beginning of days and when he was gone he had no end of life and had no descendants. He could not exist alongside the other priests that were ordained of God, and cannot exist again except after Christ’s Church age.

PLEASE PUT THIS THEORY UNDER STRESS TO TEST ITS VALIDITY as did the Bereans Acts 17:11 – if it cannot be developed further then it is - wrong.

  • 1
    This doesn't address the question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 22:30
  • To answer the question, No! there are no scribal or textual errors! Like I said, "the entire Melchizedek (or Melchisedec if you like) account is totally inerrant" Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 12:46
  • @KevinDhirajh Please keep in mind that this is not a Christian site. Be sure to check out what makes us different from other sites that study the Bible. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:31
  • @PaulVargas "Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required. " Guess someone forgot to give you the memo. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 11:38
  • 1
    The subject of this post was a question asked by Iesouslufend "Could saying that Melchizedek was “without beginning of days or end of life” possibly be a textual error?" Would a simple "yes" of "no" suffice? The answer to the question posed by Iesouslufend, would involve exposure of character, identification and stress imposed on the answer concerning textual error. Have I not done this Paul? If you have a problem with my answer then ask me to explain any point, but if you want to prove that you are better than me, then I agree – YOU ARE and I have no time to cast pearls. Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 22:10

The name Melchizedek, like most Biblical names is also a regular word, in this case two words «Melech-Tzadik» meaning roughly «King-Priest». It's likely that the original character's name was actually a title/office, passed down throughout generations. As such Melchizedek wouldn't die but continue, like King of France or US President, despite many holders of the title moving in and out of the picture.


To answer this question, are we willing to accept all that God has revealed on the subject?

Alma 13:6-9 BOM

6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest— 7 This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things— 8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end— 9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.

The Priesthood after the order of the Son of God is without beginning of days or end of life, as the Son of God, our Master Jesus Christ.

God has also revealed more about Melchizedek:

Alma 13:10-19 BOM

10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish; 11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. 12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. 13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest. 14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. 15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. 16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord. 17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; 18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. 19 Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.

  • Welcome to the site, Porter. The two quotations you have made are from the Book of Mormon, which did not appear in English till the early 1800s. The question is about the text of the Bible, which mentions Melchizedek in both the Old and the New Testaments. The requirements of this site mean searching biblical texts, languages, and manuscripts: not an entirely different text that didn't appear until centuries after the Bible. Can you do that?
    – Anne
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 20:21
  • “It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined…” Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 13:54

"Without beginning of days or end of life."

This same statement could be said of Abraham, or Sarah, or Israel, or Peter, or Paul. We know the lineage of Abram. We know his father was Terah, but Abraham had no beginning and end.

Due to the lack of understanding of name changes in the Bible, we tend to miss the deep spiritual meaning. In Is. 43:1, the Lord states that he created Jacob; and that he formed Israel.

Before we can begin to understand the mystery of God, we must first go back to Gen. 1, and start with created versus formed. There we will find that there is no six days of creation. He created the heavens and earth. The earth was without form. Then he begins to form the earth by adding his Spirit. Likewise, in Gen. 2:7, after the creation of man in his image, he forms man by addition.

Melchizedek was obviously an example of a man that had been formed before, and without the need for religion.

  • Welcome to BHSE! We're a little different here, please read our Site Directives as you ask or answer questions. Thank you!
    – Tau
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 1:06
  • 1
    Your point is taken, but there are numerous 'holes' in your explanation. You're going to need to 'connect the dots' before you summerize a conclusion. Re-read your answer, from the point of view of having no idea what you are talking about, and see if it makes sense. If you do that, I think you will see the need to include more 'steps' in arriving at your conclusion, as well as references to illustrate them. Thank you!
    – Tau
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 1:14
  • Excuse my mispelling of "summarize". However, you could "winterize" your answer if it would help explain your points ;-)
    – Tau
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 7:58

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