Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.
First reading for Corpus Christi
This somewhat engimatic encounter proves a fruitful source of metaphor for Christian theologians!
- Here is a priesthood that predates Israel’s cultic priesthood, established in the wake of the flight from Egypt.
- Here is a priest who blesses Abraham, and so can be seen to have a certain priority and authority over him
- Here is a priest who, independent of the story of Genesis so far, is described as a priest of God most high, and not of the Canaanite deities.
As Christians come to seek to articulate their faith in continuity and in a certain discontinuity with the faith of Israel Melchizedek proves a helpful means of doing just that.
L’Abbeye St-Pierre, Moissac, France. Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris.