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Re: Melchizedek and Levi (long)
Concerning the mystery of Melchizedek and the attribute Elyon, let me throw
the following observations into the pot:
The anomalous character of Gen. 14 (i.e. its noncontextual placement)
has of course been noted long ago, and it would certainly be nice to dope out
who did this and why. But the discussion has been ignoring some pieces of
"evidence" that do not require the terminus a quo to be at the time of the
Hasmoneans, Jubilees or DSS.
Thus, contrary to what someone suggested, the divine epithet Elyon is not
exclusively or even overwhelmingly associated with the Hasmonean period.
While the expression El-Elyon does appear only in Gen. 14 (i.e. the two
combined as a proper noun, a name of God; significantly, the textwriter has
Abraham identify Melchizedek's El-Elyon with Y-H-W-H in 14:22), the attribute
Elyon ("Most High") for the deity is used numerous times throughout Tanakh,
including most importantly abut 20 times in assorted Psalms, as well as in
the prophecy of Balaam in Num. 24:16 and in Lamentations 3:35. Unless one
takes the minimalist position that none of the above predates the Hasmonean
period (go prove it!), it is highly dismissive to assume a Hasmonean provenance
for the use of Elyon as an attribute of God.
as for Melchizedek "uniting the role of king and priest into the one figure,"
there is reason to believe that this was the case during First Temple Times,
at least we have the stories (even if mythic) of David and Solomon doing big
cultic things (e.g. David dancing before the Ark in 2 Samuel 6, and Solomon's
central role in offering sacrifice and prayer at the dedication of the Temple
in I Kings 8 (all the priests get to do is the heavy lifting -- they carry
the Ark into the Temple, and then come right back out because they are "not
able to remain and perform the service because of the cloud, for the Presence
of the LORD filled the House of the LORD" -- at which point Solomon takes over
completely, offering up a lengthy prayer, and then turning to face the people
and bless them -it doesn't get more priestly than that!!!).
Again unless one is going to accept the baldfaced and unproven minimalist
assertion that the Deuteronomic history also does not predate the Hasmonean
period, here is evidence of the king-priest long before that century.
Finally, one should not fall into the trap of assuming that the name Melchi-
zedek intends to define the bearer as the "righteous king" (i.e., Messiah-like
figure). It is far more likely, as is normally the case with biblical Hebrew
names that contain divine attributes, to be simply reciting the attributes
of God. In this case, for instance, it more likely means *malki zedeq*, "my
king [i.e. God] is righteous[ness]" than an assertion that Melchizedek himself
IS the righteous king (ideal-type, Messiah), though it could also be inter-
preted as "Righteous King" like the DSS Moreh-Tsedeq, the "Righteous Teacher."
about the force of the "i", namely treating it as an archaic example of a case
ending rather than a first person singular pronominal suffix.
We may compare this to the ambiguity we find in the case of Pele-Yoez-
El-Gibbor-Avi-Ad-Sar-Shalom (see Isaiah 9:5), which is a list of attributes
of God:"Wonderful Counsellor is God the Mighty, the Eternal Father, the Prince
of Peace", but which, due to certain quirky characteristics of Hebrew (namely,
the fact that Hebrew uses no verb "is" in sentences like this), has been
interpretatively assumed to ascribe those attributes to the child to whom
the name was given, thus: "Wonderful! Counselor!, etc".
So, it seems we must make quite a number of not-necessarily-borne-out assump-
tions in order to date Gen. 14 to the Hasmonean period. The ball is certainly
in the court of those who would assert this as a proven fact.
Judith Romney Wegner