Saint Melchizedek, King of Salem and Priest
August 26, Second Millennium BC
“Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High” is mentioned twice in the Old Testament. He met Abraham, offered him bread and wine and blessed him. In return, Abraham gave him a tithe of the booty recently conquered (Gen 14:18-20). When Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, King David was proclaimed “a priest forever after the manner of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110.4). This allusion to another priesthood, different from the Levite, was used in Hebrews: Christ is a priest not of carnal descent, but “the manner of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20). The Christian tradition saw in Melchizedek a prophecy of Christ and the offering of bread and wine the prophecy of the Eucharist.
Etymology: = Melchizedek the King, that God is justice
Emblem: Bread and wine
Roman Martyrology: Commemoration of St. Melchizedek king of Salem and priest of God Most High, who greeted Abraham returning from the victory with his blessing, giving the Lord a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim, and was seen as a foreshadowing of Christ, King of peace and justice and a priest for ever, without genealogy.
“Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine he was priest of God Most High and he blessed Abram with these words: Blessed be Abram from God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High who has put in hand your enemies. ” So the book of Genesis (14:18-20) mentions this mysterious personage, who lived around the second millennium BC, the Canaanite king of Salem, archaic name of the future city of Jerusalem and the capital of King David, and at the same time priest of the gods Local’eljòn el-, meaning “God Almighty”.
The signs of bread and wine that Melchizedek presented to the biblical patriarch Abraham, for the Christian became a sign of a higher mystery, the Eucharist. Precisely in this new light the story of Melchizedek acquires a new meaning compared to the original. For the author of Genesis because the supply of bread and wine to Abraham and his troops starving, passing through the territory of the king of Salem returning from a military expedition against the four eastern kings to free his nephew Lot, is intended as a sign of hospitality, security and transit permit. The territory of Salem, and then Jerusalem will indeed be torn as is well known only centuries after the Jebusites by King David. Abraham accepted the benevolent gesture of Melkisedek and returned with a tenth of the spoils of war, so as to implement a kind of bilateral treaty.
The second Old Testament quotation is given in Psalm 110.4, where about King David says, “You are a priest forever, the way Melkisedech”, perhaps also to ensure the sovereign of a quality Gerusalemine priestly different from Leviticus priesthood, as David and his successors belonged to the tribe of Judah rather than priestly Levi.
So far the historical heart of the story, for another non-exempt issues and questions of exegesis, however, that dwell too much on this discussion. It’s rather interesting to highlight the symbolism that the king of Salem has gained from the subsequent Christian tradition. “ In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews (chapter 7) it began to glimpse into the profile Melchizedek Jesus Christ, priest perfect. Fact, the author of the New Testament book, wanting to present Christ as a priest in a unique and new way compared to the ancient Jewish priesthood, he decided to have recourse to the ancient figure of Melkisedek. This name means “the King, that God is justice,” while “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” It thus combining the two in the king-priest messianic gifts for excellence, justice and peace. Noting also the fact that Abraham allowed himself to be blessed by him, thus recognizing the primacy, implicitly affirms the superiority of the priesthood of Levi Melkisedek than descent of Abraham. There remains, therefore, only to conclude that as Christ, Davidic descendant, is “a priest forever in the manner of Melkisedech” just as predicted in Psalm 110. It is therefore in this light that the Christian tradition did not hesitate to recognize in the bread and wine offered by the king of Salem Abraham a prophecy of the Eucharist.
The famous father Turoldo, religious and poet of the twentieth century, she sang it: “Nobody has ever heard of him, whence he came, who his father we know only this: that he was the priest of God Most High. Was a figure of another, the expected, the only king who will free us and save us: a king who prays for the man and love him, but going to die for the others, one who offers the bread and wine the Most High God as a token of thanks: the bread and wine of free men, behind Abraham’s always on the move. ““ In this Melchizedek also became part of the Latin liturgical heritage, so as to deserve a mention in the so-called Roman canon, that after Vatican II, Eucharistic Prayer I: “You who have been willing to accept the gifts of Abel the just and the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, pure and holy el’oblazione of Melchizedek, your high priest, turn on our offer, your look serene and benign. ““ This implies some influence also in iconography and in this direction have to report the mosaics of the Roman basilica of Saint Maria Maggiore, dating from the fifth century, when the scene Melchizedek was placed near the altar in order to better highlight the intrinsic link with the Eucharist. Also on the inner wall of the facade of Rheims Cathedral, thirteenth century, depicts the encounter between Abraham and the king priest just as if it were the Eucharistic communion. Finally, it mentions that in Rubens ’600 inserted the biblical scene in a tapestry entitled “The Triumph of the Eucharist.” The bread and wine are in fact now definitely understood as those set down on the table of the Last Supper by Jesus and the explanation of their value consists of the words that Christ spoke in the synagogue of Capernaum: “If anyone eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. [...] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, I in him “(Jn 6,51.56).
Venerated as a saint, Mechisedek is remembered on 8 September in the calendar of the Ethiopian Church, while the new Martyrologium Romanum incorporated him on 26 August, the “Commemoration of St. Mechisedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, who blessed Abraham greeted returned victorious from war. Offered to God a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. Is seen as a figure of Christ the King of justice, peace and eternal priest, without genealogy “.
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati