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Re: Melchizedek and Levi (long)

Dear Victor,

Thanks for an interesting letter.

Although a case for dating the usage of "the most high" hasn't been made, I
think you need to keep the separation between "the most high" and "the most
high God": they are used as distinct means of referring to God, the former
seems to have had a longer time span of usage whereas the latter seem to be
localized to less than 100 years. Although they both refer to the same
person (and hence the parallelism) they don't necessarily reflect the same

>VH- NOt only is Elyon mentioned in the Balaam oracle, but it appears in 
>parallelism with el- shomea` 'imrey 'el weyodea` da`at `elyon. THe 
>expression has simply been "broken up", to use Ezra Zion Melamed's term.  

Naturally this would be a little stronger if there were a little evidence
for such a suggestion.

>Also, why do you say the 'el `elyon appears "only" in Genesis 14? What 
>about Psalms 78:35, and note YHWH `elyon as well as 'elohim `elyon.

The psalms data is difficult to use as there is no way of dating it: the dss
shows that the collection had not been standardized before 63 bce (besides I
wonder if 'elohim `elyon is relevant). However, the phrase is also found in
Daniel 3:26, 5:18, and 5:21 (if the English translation doesn't betray me).
It is also found in Jubilees and 1QGenAp, clearly connecting the phrase with
Hasmonean times.

>'el `elyon is by far from a 
>Hasmonean fabrication, but is one of the earliest divine epithets.

Yet you give no direct evidence for either part of this. And we must
remember that the Hasmoneans have directly been related to the term in the
Assumption of Moses (6:1 if I remember correctly).

>VH-I fully agree that those who would late date Gen. 14 must make their 

This is not historical process. When an assumption about history is
questioned, the case for that assumption should be made. I have seen no
evidence for an early dating of Gen 14 (that is not to say that the rest of
Genesis is early either, but it seems to be earlier than Gen 14). I have
shown that there is a historical connection between 'el `elyon and the

>Although one can 
>hardly argue for a hasmonean date,

I don't think you have made any case for saying this. The oldest examples of
Gen 14 post-date the dss. Jubilees which many agree used a form of Genesis
as one source doesn't quote the Melchizedek episode although it is quite
current with the phrase "the most high God". It is the Melchizedek passage
that alone talks of "the most high God" in Genesis. One often invents
reasons for Jubilees having omitted Melchizedek (that reflect the gymnastics
of the inventor rather than the situation), yet it doesn't change the fact
that there is not only no attestation of the episode, but that there was an
attestation for no episode. Jubilees was written in the second century bce,
as may have been 1QGenAp, which is the first attestation we currently have.
Obviously without the Melchizedek passage, there would be no 'el `elyon in
Gen 14 either. If not original to Genesis then the other evidence (relating
both to Melchizedek and 'el `elyon) pulls it to the Hasmonean times.



Incidentally, there is an interesting parallelism between God the
king/angels and king/priests to be found in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifices.

Ian Hutchesson