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Melchizedek, the Great Priest-King

For this Melchizedek, ‘king of Salem, priest of the most high God, met Abraham as he was coming back after defeating the kings, and blessed him; and Abraham portioned out to him a tenth of everything.’

To begin with, if you translate Melchizedek’s name, it means ‘king of righteousness’; then he is also ‘king of Salem’, which means ‘king of peace’. No mention is made of his father or mother or genealogy, nor of the beginning or end of his earthly life. He is described in a similar way to the son of God; and he continues as a priest for ever.

Look and see what an exalted status he has. Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils! Those of Levi’s sons who receive the priesthood have a command to take tithes from the people according to the law – from, that is, their own brothers and sisters, although they, too, are physical descendants of Abraham. But this man, who doesn’t share their genealogy at all, received tithes from Abraham, and blessed the man who possessed the promises. It is beyond all question that the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the former case, mortal humans receive tithes; in the latter case, the one who received them was one of whom scripture declares that he is alive. And, if I can put it like this, even Levi paid tithes through Abraham – Levi, the one who receives tithes! 10 He was still in his ancestor’s loins, you see, when Melchizedek met him.

A New Order of Priesthood

11 So, you see, if it had been possible to arrive at complete perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for the people received the law by that means), what further need would there have been to speak of another priesthood being established ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’, rather than ‘according to the order of Aaron’? 12 Change the priesthood, after all, and you’re bound to change the law – 13 especially when you consider that the one of whom these things are spoken comes from another tribe altogether, one from which nobody is recruited to serve at the altar. 14 It’s obvious, isn’t it, that our Lord was descended from Judah, and Moses never made any connection between that tribe and the priesthood.

15 This is even clearer when another priest arises ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’, 16 who attains this rank not because of a law concerning physical descent but through the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 What scripture says about him, after all, is, ‘You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’ 18 What is happening here is that the previous commandment is being set aside. It was, after all, weak and useless; 19 the law brought nothing to perfection, did it? Instead, what appears is a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

The Permanent Priesthood of Jesus

20 This is all the more so when you consider that an oath was sworn. The Levitical priests, you see, become priests without an oath, 21 but the Messiah attains his priesthood with an oath, through what was said to him:

The Lord has sworn and will not repent;
you are a priest for ever.

22 Jesus has thus, additionally, become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 There needed to be a large number of Levitical priests, since they stop holding office at death. 24 But since he continues as a priest for ever, his priesthood is permanent. 25 That’s why he is able to save those who come to God through him, completely and for ever – since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 It was appropriate that we should have a high priest like this. He is holy, without blame or stain, separated from sinners, and elevated high above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need (like the ordinary high priests do) to offer sacrifices every day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people. He did this once for all, you see, when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints ordinary, weak, mortal men as high priests; but the word of the oath, which comes after the law, appoints the son, who has been made perfect for ever.

Melchizedek the Priest

This Melchizedek was king of Salem(A) and priest of God Most High.(B) He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,(C) and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy,(D) without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God,(E) he remains a priest forever.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch(F) Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!(G) Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people(H)—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed(I) him who had the promises.(J) And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.(K) One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Jesus Like Melchizedek

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people(L) established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come,(M) one in the order of Melchizedek,(N) not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe,(O) and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.(P) 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah,(Q) and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”[a](R)

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless(S) 19 (for the law made nothing perfect),(T) and a better hope(U) is introduced, by which we draw near to God.(V)

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:(W)
    ‘You are a priest forever.’”[b](X)

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.(Y)

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.(Z) 25 Therefore he is able to save(AA) completely[c] those who come to God(AB) through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.(AC)

26 Such a high priest(AD) truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners,(AE) exalted above the heavens.(AF) 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices(AG) day after day, first for his own sins,(AH) and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all(AI) when he offered himself.(AJ) 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness;(AK) but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son,(AL) who has been made perfect(AM) forever.


  1. Hebrews 7:17 Psalm 110:4
  2. Hebrews 7:21 Psalm 110:4
  3. Hebrews 7:25 Or forever