Hebrews 7:2-10 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
The mysterious Melchizedek: his superiority to Abraham and the Levites
7 1-3 Now this Melchizedek was, we know, king of Salem and priest of God most high. He met Abraham when the latter was returning from the defeat of the kings, and blessed him. Abraham gave him a tribute of a tenth part of all the spoils of battle. (Melchizedek means “king of righteousness,” and his other title is “king of peace”, for Salem means peace. He had no father or mother and no family tree. He was not born nor did he die, but, being like the Son of God, is a perpetual priest.)
4-10 Now notice the greatness of this man. Even Abraham the patriarch pays him a tribute of a tenth part of the spoils. Further, we know that, according to the Law, the descendants of Levi who accept the office of priest have the right to demand a “tenth” from the people, that is from their brothers, despite the fact that the latter are descendants of Abraham. But here we have one who is quite independent of Levitic ancestry taking a “tenth” from Abraham, and giving a blessing to Abraham, the holder of God’s promises! And no one can deny that the receiver of a blessing is inferior to the one who gives it. Again, in the one case it is mortal men who receive the “tenths”, and in the other is one who, we are assured, is alive. One might say that even Levi, the proper receiver of “tenths”, has paid his tenth to this man, for in a sense he already existed in the body of his father Abraham when Melchizedek met him.