Levi was not yet born, but he was in the ·body [loins] of his ancestor when Melchizedek met Abraham [C the Levitical priesthood is considered inferior to Melchizedek’s (and Christ’s) priesthood, since Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through his ancestor Abraham].
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.
Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, “lives.” Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek.
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