( Credit Related Reference: Should we read Melchizedek in Genesis 14 to be metaphorical? )

Before discussing Genesis 14, this question posting is Not about whether the Biblical character of King Melchizedek was Real or Not real.

However, this question posting is more of an analysis of the symbolic/metaphorical aspects of Genesis 14. Genesis 14 recounts a pseudo historical-political story of a war between different kings in the land of Caanan. Furthermore, it shows how a sequence of historical-political events leads to Abraham becoming involved in the war.

What is the significance of the insertion/interleaving/interlinearing of the King Melchizedek's sub-narrative into the Genesis 14's historical-political story?

  • 1
    Perhaps to show that Abraham was not a strict monotheist, and was not only able to tolerate different polytheistic worldviews, but was also able to synthesize that with his own view of a monotheistic supreme power?? See my question here hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/30688/…
    – Bach
    Oct 24, 2021 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


I have always understood that the purpose of the Gen 14 was multifaceted and included:

  • to document how significant Abraham and his household was (this is supported by the incident in Egypt in Gen 12, etc and others) - that is, Abraham was not only the father of the faithful, but a significant military leader
  • Despite Abraham's military greatness, he was unable to have children
  • to document how pious Abraham was - he paid tithe on the bounty
  • to document Abraham's humility - despite his greatness, he acknowledged a higher (human) priest than himself
  • to show that tithing was older than the laws delivered at Sinai (a similar analysis can easily document all 10 of the commandments in Ex 20 existed well before their formal statement at Sinai)
  • to show that Abraham lived by faith - his household "army" of 318 was able to defeat a coalition of five much greater armies but only by divine guidance
  • It is also possible that because Melchizedek was king of Salem (= Jerusalem later) this may have, among other things, encouraged David to establish the temple and formal priesthood in Jerusalem because of the connection to this ancient priest.
  • It also showed that true priesthood of the LORD/YHWH is by appointment of the LORD. Specifically, (as per Hebrews) Melchizedek was NOT a descendant of Aaron and neither was Jesus despite being the true High Priest of the Christian community (Heb 4:14-16, 7:1, see also Heb 5:1, 10, 7:26-28, 8:1, 3, 9:11, etc)

I suppose we can view Genesis 14 as a story about Abraham/Abram as political leader who has to deal with rival leaders and neighboring leaders. As the story progresses, Abraham/Abram can be seen as one of the victors alongside the king of Sodom who is a pseudo-ally victor.

The following scripture passages corresponds to events that relate to worldly aspects:

  • Genesis 14:1-17 -->war between Kings, and Abraham's involvement

  • Gensis 14:21-24 -->Abraham's interaction with king of Sodom who is a pseudo-ally victor

However, Genesis 14:18-20 is a sub-narrative that symbolizes Godly and Divine aspects of the Genesis 14 story.

( Credit Reference to @dick-harfield for following quote: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/24768/19810 )

"In Genesis chapter 14, Melchizedek appears and then disappears so suddenly that Hebrews chapter 7, describes him as

( Hebrews 7:3 )

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

and as a type for Jesus. "

The significance of the insertion/interleaving/interlinearing of the King Melchizedek's sub-narrative into the Genesis 14's historical-political story shows us how God interacts with Abraham as he faces challenges & major milestones in this world.

I suppose we as Christians could view Genesis 14 as a very broad & general pattern of how we Christians have to interact with God, and this world ( i.e., we are In this world, but Not of the world. )

John 15:19

19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are Not of the world , but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

John 17:14-16

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are Not of the world​, even as I am Not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them [a]from [b]the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. **

Abraham serves as a role model to us Christians because Abraham's actions/reactions show that he is Not of this world when he gives a 1/10 of his materialistic gain from his victory in said war of Caanan in Genesis 14:18-20

Genesis 14:20b

He gave him a tenth of all.

Abraham gave 10% of material gain to God( sort of represented by Abraham's interaction with King Melchizedek who Represents God ) Furthermore, Abraham gives credit to God by rejecting the materialistic world( i.e. represented by king of Sodom) which is described in Genesis 14:21-24 bible passage, and appropriately giving credit to God

Genesis 14:21-24

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the [e]people to me and take the goods for yourself.” 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have [f]sworn to the Lord [g]God Most High, [h]possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 [i]I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.