The readings for the feast of Corpus Christi include one from Genesis, about the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, king of Salem. Those who have read the Letter to the Hebrews are familiar with this priest-king figure who mysteriously appears in Genesis and is never mentioned again until Hebrews. Just who was Melchizedek?
It was from Scott Hahn that I heard for the first time of the identification of Melchizedek with Shem, the forefather of the Semites and Noah’s son. It is only now that I find more materials on the question. Below are just three of these
- An article from Andrei Orlov on Melchizedek in the Slavonik 2 Enoch
- Answers.COM data on Melchizedek
What I found interesting in Scott Hahn’s explanation was the connection between Salem and Jerusalem. When David ascends to Jerusalem and makes it his capital, he was actually transforming a pre-Israelite Yahwistic landmark into an Israelite political center. But the identification of Shem with Melchizedek — which some groups react to (especially the LDS) — I don’t find relevant at all. True, the Gnostic identification of Melchizedek with Christ can create confusion. But hey, this is not only the place where Gnostics have created confusion!
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