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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - HEBREWS 7
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    CHAPTER 7

    Heb 7:1-28. CHRIST'S HIGH PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC SUPERIOR TO AARON'S.

    1. this Melchisedec-- (Heb 6:20; Ps 110:4). The verb does not come till Heb 7:3, "abideth."
    - king . . . priest--Christ unites these offices in their highest sense, and so restores the patriarchal union of these offices.
    - Salem--Jerusalem, that is, seeing peace; others make Salem distinct, and to be that mentioned (Ge 33:18; Joh 3:23).
    - the most high God--called also "Possessor of heaven and earth" (Ge 14:19, 22). This title of God, "the Most High," handed down by tradition from the primitive revelation, appears in the Phœnician god "Elion," that is, Most High. It is used to imply that the God whom Melchisedec served is THE TRUE GOD, and not one of the gods of the nations around. So it is used in the only other cases in which it is found in the New Testament, namely in the address of the demoniac, and the divining damsel constrained to confess that her own gods were false, and God the only true God.
    - who met Abraham--in company with the king of Sodom (Ge 14:17, 18).
    - slaughter--perhaps defeat, as ALFORD translates. So Ge 14:17 (compare Ge 14:15) may be translated. Arioch, king of Ellasar, lived and reigned after the disaster [BENGEL]. However, if Chedorlaomer and Amraphel and Tidal were slain, though Arioch survived, "slaughter of the kings" would be correct.
    - blessed him--As priest he first blessed Abraham on God's part; next he blessed God on Abraham's part: a reciprocal blessing. Not a mere wish, but an authoritative and efficacious intercession as a priest. The Most High God's prerogative as "Possessor of heaven and earth," is made over to Abraham; and Abraham's glory, from his victory over the foe, is made over to God. A blessed exchange for Abraham (Ge 14:19, 20).

    2. gave--Greek, "apportioned"; assigned as his portion.
    - tenth . . . of all--namely, the booty taken. The tithes given are closely associated with the priesthood: the mediating priest received them as a pledge of the giver's whole property being God's; and as he conveyed God's gifts to man (Heb 7:1, "blessed him"), so also man's gifts to God. Melchisedec is a sample of how God preserves, amidst general apostasy, an elect remnant. The meeting of Melchisedec and Abraham is the connecting link between to two dispensations, the patriarchal, represented by Melchisedec, who seems to have been specially consecrated by God as a KING-PRIEST, the highest form of that primitive system in which each father of a household was priest in it, and the Levitical, represented by Abraham, in which the priesthood was to be limited to one family of one tribe and one nation. The Levitical was parenthetical, and severed the kingdom and priesthood; the patriarchal was the true forerunner of Christ's, which, like Melchisedec's, unites the kingship and priesthood, and is not derived from other man, or transmitted to other man; but derived from God, and is transmitted in God to a never-ending perpetuity. Melchisedec's priesthood continueth in Christ for ever. For other points of superiority, see Heb 7:16-21. Melchisedec must have had some special consecration above the other patriarchs, as Abraham, who also exercised the priesthood; else Abraham would not have paid tithe to him as to a superior. His peculiar function seems to have been, by God's special call, KING-priest whereas no other "patriarch-priest" was also a God-consecrated king.
    - first being--Paul begins the mystical explanation of the historical fact (allegorical explanations being familiar to JEWS), by mentioning the significancy of the name.
    - righteousness--not merely righteous: so Christ. Hebrew "Malchi" means king: "Tzedek," righteousness.
    - King of Salem--not only his own name, but that of the city which he ruled, had a typical significance, namely, peace. Christ is the true Prince of peace. The peace which He brings is the fruit of righteousness.

    3. Without father, &c.--explained by "without genealogy" (so the Greek is for "without descent); compare Heb 7:6, that is, his genealogy is not known, whereas a Levitical priest could not dispense with the proof of his descent.
    - having neither beginning of days nor end of life--namely, history not having recorded his beginning nor end, as it has the beginning and end of Aaron. The Greek idiom expressed by "without father," &c., one whose parentage was humble or unknown. "Days" mean his time of discharging his function. So the eternity spoken of in Ps 110:4 is that of the priestly office chiefly.
    - made like--It is not said that he was asbsolutely "like." Made like, namely, in the particulars here specified. Nothing is said in Genesis of the end of his priesthood, or of his having had in his priesthood either predecessor or successor, which, in a typical point of view, represents Christ's eternal priesthood, without beginning or end. Aaron's end is recorded; Melchisedec's not: typically significant. "The Son of God" is not said to be made like unto Melchisedec, but Melchisedec to be "made like the Son of God." When ALFORD denies that Melchisedec was made like the Son of God in respect of his priesthood, on the ground that Melchisedec was prior in time to our Lord, he forgets that Christ's eternal priesthood was an archetypal reality in God's purpose from everlasting, to which Melchisedec's priesthood was "made like" in due time. The Son of God is the more ancient, and is the archetype: compare Heb 8:5, where the heavenly things are represented as the primary archetype of the Levitical ordinances. The epithets, "without father," &c. "beginning of days, "nor end," "abideth continually," belong to Melchisedec only in respect to his priesthood, and in so far as he is the type of the Son of God, and are strictly true of Him alone. Melchisedec was, in his priesthood, "made like" Christ, as far as the imperfect type could represent the lineaments of the perfect archetype. "The portrait of a living man can be seen on the canvas, yet the man is very different from his picture." There is nothing in the account, Ge 14:18-20, to mark Melchisedec as a superhuman being: he is classed with the other kings in the chapter as a living historic personage: not as ORIGEN thought, an angel; nor as the Jews thought, Shem, son of Noah; nor as CALMET, Enoch; nor as the Melchisedekites, that he was the Holy Ghost; nor as others, the Divine Word. He was probably of Shemitic, not Canaanite origin: the last independent representative of the original Shemitic population, which had been vanquished by the Canaanites, Ham's descendants. The greatness of Abraham then lay in hopes; of Melchisedec, in present possession. Melchisedec was the highest and last representative of the Noahic covenant, as Christ was the highest and ever enduring representative of the Abrahamic. Melchisedec, like Christ, unites in himself the kingly and priestly offices, which Abraham does not. ALFORD thinks the epithets are, in some sense, strictly true of Melchisedec himself; not merely in the typical sense given above; but that he had not, as mortal men have, a beginning or end of life (?). A very improbable theory, and only to be resorted to in the last extremity, which has no place here. With Melchisedec, whose priesthood probably lasted a long period, the priesthood and worship of the true God in Canaan ceased. He was first and last king-priest there, till Christ, the antitype; and therefore his priesthood is said to last for ever, because it both lasts a long time, and lasts as long as the nature of the thing itself (namely, his life, and the continuance of God's worship in Canaan) admits. If Melchisedec were high priest for ever in a literal sense, then Christ and he would now still be high priests, and we should have two instead of one (!). THOLUCK remarks, "Melchisedec remains in so far as the type remains in the antitype, in so far as his priesthood remains in Christ." The father and mother of Melchisedec, as also his children, are not descended from Levi, as the Levitical priests (Heb 7:6) were required to be, and are not even mentioned by Moses. The wife of Aaron, Elisheba, the mother from whom the Levitical priests spring, is mentioned: as also Sarah, the original mother of the Jewish nation itself. As man, Christ had no father; as God, no mother.

    4. consider--not merely see, but weigh with attentive contemplation, the fact.
    - even--"to whom (as his superior) Abraham even paid tithe (went so far as to pay tithe) of (consisting of, literally, 'from') the best of the spoils (literally, 'the top of the heap"; whether of corn, the first-fruits of which, taken from the top, used to be consecrated to God; or of spoils, from the top of which the general used to take some portion for consecration to God, or for his own use)." He paid "tithes of ALL," and those tithes were taken out of the topmost and best portion of the whole spoils.
    - the patriarch--in the Greek emphatically standing at the end of the whole sentence: And this payer of tithe being no less a personage than "the patriarch," the first forefather and head of our Jewish race and nation See on Heb 7:3, on Melchisedec's superiority as specially consecrated king-priest, above the other patriarch-priests.

    5. sons of Levi--namely, those alone who belonged to the family of Aaron, to whom the priesthood was restricted. Tithes originally paid to the whole tribe of Levi, became at length attached to the priesthood.
    - according to the law--sanctioned by Jehovah (Heb 9:19).
    - of their brethren--with whom, in point of natural descent, they are on a level.
    - though, &c.--Though thus on a level by common descent from Abraham, they yet pay tithe to the Levites, whose brethren they are. Now the Levites are subordinate to the priests; and these again to Abraham, their common progenitor; and Abraham to Melchisedec. "How great" (Heb 7:4) then, must this Melchisedec be in respect to his priesthood, as compared with the Levitical, though the latter received tithes! and now unspeakably great must "the Son of God" be, to whom, as the sacerdotal archetype (in God's purpose), Melchisedec was made like! Thus compare the "consider," Heb 7:4, in the case of Melchisedec, the type, with the "consider" (Greek, "contemplate attentively," see on Heb 3:1, a stronger word than here) in the case of Christ, the archetype.

    6. he whose descent is not counted from them--not from "the sons of Levi," as those "who receive the priesthood." This verse explains "without descent" (Greek, "genealogy" in both verses, Heb 7:3). He who needs not, as the Levitical priests, to be able to trace his genealogy back to Levi.
    - received--Greek, "hath received tithes."
    - blessed--Greek, "hath blessed." The perfect tense implies that the significance of the fact endures to the present time.
    - him that had--"the possessor of the promises," Abraham's peculiar distinction and designation. Paul exalts Abraham in order still more to exalt Melchisedec. When Christ is the subject, the singular "promise" is used. "The promises" in the plural, refer to God's promise of greatness to himself and his seed, and of the possession of Canaan, twice repeated before the blessing of Melchisedec. As the priests, though above the people (Heb 7:7) whom it was their duty to "bless," were yet subordinate to Abraham; and as Abraham was subordinate to Melchisedec, who blessed him, Melchisedec must be much above the Levitical priests.

    7. The principle that the blesser is superior to him whom he blesses, holds good only in a blessing given with divine authority; not merely a prayerful wish, but one that is divinely efficient in working its purport, as that of the patriarchs on their children: so Christ's blessing, Lu 24:51; Ac 3:26.

    8. Second point of superiority: Melchisedec's is an enduring, the Levitical a transitory, GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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