The Order of Melchizedek: Is This Anti-Semetic?


#1

We were discussing Hebrews 5 this morning at Bible study, and I said that I thought the reason for it talking about “The Order of Melchizedek” was because the (unknown to us) author of Hebrews was making the argument that even though Jesus was not a Levite, he was still our High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was the only priest of God (as far as I can recall) in the Hebrew Scriptures who wasn’t a Levite.

My pastor said, “I don’t know, that seems antisemetic.” I was stunned. I can’t see how that is anti-Semetic. I was wondering, does this interpretation sound anti-semetic to you? If so, why?


#2

Wow . . .that really is some perspective there. But in the spirit, there is NEITHER bond or free, JEW OR GREEK . . male or female . . .my next question to your pastor would then be, “Is that your spirit claiming that? Or your flesh?” The whole message that Jesus brought was one rejected by Jews even though it was first offered to the Jews before the Gentiles. And I agree that the order of Melchizedek is a New Covenant principle separated from the Old Covenant based in the levitical order. The whole message of Hebrews on this subject was to proclaim the removal of a temporary religious system established “for” man, and the initiation of a relationship established “in” man. It has nothing to do with dissing Jews.


#3

Well, it certainly isn’t racially derogatory, so it couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic per se.

(People often say anti-Semitic when they really mean anti-Jewish, but that’s largely because Hitler insisted on the two concepts thanks to his reading of evolutionary theory.)

Is it anti-Jewish? No, the whole thrust of the Epistle to the Hebrews is to explain how Christ fulfills the promises of Judaism in ways more superior than Moses, angels, Jewish priests, or even Melchizedek. (All of whom were highly promoted by the Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived and wrote at the time of Christ’s ministry. The author’s topical scope is an indication he is writing to a group of Christians who were once Philonic Jews, and/or in strong contact with Philonic Jews, and/or that the author himself was once a Philonic Jew. I tend to agree with Ronald Nash that this points toward the author being Apollos, but that’s kind of speculative.)

Naturally, insofar as a Jew is anti-Christian then any text promoting Jesus as the Christ will be anti-Jewish by comparison, but only in that limited regard. But that isn’t anti-Semitism.

Anyway, the author’s argument is not that the Levitical priesthood is worth nothing, but that the priesthood of Melchizedek is inherently superior somehow (in a way fulfilled by Christ) by the testimony of the actions of the First Official Jew himself, Abraham, who gave a tithe to Mel. Thus Levi and his descendants, regarded by the author as present in Abraham’s loins (an ancient biological concept, which also helps explain how to understand statements that all have sinned in Adam), acknowledge the religious superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood.

(I’m actually a little surprised that the Hebraist doesn’t spend more time focusing on the fact that Mel offers a sacrifice consisting of only bread and wine, which would have been practically nonsensical not only in Abraham’s day but in the day of the Hebraist–but which points to the real sacrifice of Christ eventually. Catholics and High Protestants sure spend time and energy making this point! :sunglasses: :ugeek: )


#4

After his comment that it sounded antisemetic, he was like, “Why wouldn’t Jesus want to be of the Levitical priesthood? He was Jewish, after all.”

I don’t know if he misunderstood what I was saying, or if he is simply ignorant of the fact that the levitical priesthood was by lineage, and Jesus was not of the line of Aaron. I really hope it was the former. The fact tha he has several Ph.D.s really makes me hope it wasn’t the latter…


#5

There is at least a little evidence that Mary was from a conflated line of lineage, by the way, where a Levite was adopted into David’s (and thus Judah’s) lineage. But yes, if that was solidly established and the Hebraist had known about it, he wouldn’t have felt like he had to engage in apologetics about Jesus being a superior high priest–the implication is that the Hebraist doesn’t know Jesus by Mary was (or knows Jesus by Mary was not) of the line of Judah.

The problem predates Christianity anyway, as the Hebraist was well aware: how could a son of David also be a priest?! (But he’ll be a priest according to the order of Mel.) I think Ezekiel, or one of the other major prophets (Jeremiah?) caused a lot of rabbinic ruckus later by crowning one of the high priests as king. Even though everyone at the time (and afterward) understood the prophet was using the high priest as an example for a symbol–no one went on to treat that particular high priest as also being king–that still left over the question of what the heck the prophet meant by this, and the standard answer was that somehow the Messiah would be both priest and king. (Although the Jewish theory of two Messiahs got around that problem. Sort of: the king Messiah was the son of David, thus of the lineage of Judah, but the priestly Messiah was supposed to be the son of Ephraim and thus of the lineage of Joseph!!)