Apologetics, Archaeology, Main, News, z151
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Has an altar of Melchizedek, the man of mystery, been discovered in Jerusalem?

Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek by Dieric Bouts, the older, (1414-1475) Credit: Wikipedia

El Shukron is an archaeologist working with Israel Antiquities Authority and over the years he has made some significant discoveries. Working with fellow archaeologist Ronny Reich, the two discovered the pool of Siloam in 2004 that is mentioned in the New Testament as the spot where Christ healed a blind man (John 9:11).

He has also had a hand in discovering the Jerusalem Pilgrim Road and a bulla that referenced Bethlehem which at the time of its discovery in 2012 was the only mention of Bethlehem found outside the Bible.

But recently in an interview with CBN, Shukron shared what he considered to be his greatest discovery found while working in the old Jerusalem that includes the Temple Mount.

Shukron found a stone pillar that he believes was part of an altar used by Melchizedek. It included a channel used to funnel off the blood during sacrifices.

He believes it was similar to the altar that Jacob set up after having a dream where he saw angels descending and ascending to heaven on a ladder. Jacob took the rock that he used as his pillow and constructed an altar where he made sacrifices to God (Genesis 28:10-22).

Jacob went so far as to describe this simple altar as the House of God. According to Shukron, this was a stark contrast with other religions of the day that constructed massive temples to honor their gods. Shukron adds that Jehovah preferred a much, simpler set up.

And in fact, when King David wanted to construct a temple for God, the prophet Nathan told the King that God was not interested in a Temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7).

Melchizedek was part of this less elaborate form of worship. He was the man of mystery that Abraham encountered shortly after his battle against Chedorlaomer. We find three verses describing this encounter, then Melchizedek suddenly disappears:

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

He gave him a tenth of all. (Genesis 14:18-20 NASV)

In the passage Melchizedek is described as both the King of Salem and the Priest of the God Most High (El Elyon).  The name Melchizedek can literally be translated “King of righteousness.”

Salem was the original name for Jerusalem and the passage suggests that Abraham was near the city as Melchizedek came out to greet Abraham to offer him and his men bread and wine after the battle. Shukron believes the altar found in old Jerusalem may have been the altar that Melchizedek used while in Salem.

Melchizedek then blessed Abraham and thanked God for Abraham’s victory in battle. In turn, Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s spiritual authority by giving him a tithe.

And we see that Abraham recognizes that Melchizedek was a priest of Jehovah because during a brief conversation with the King of Sodom in verse 22, Abraham uses the term Jehovah (Lord) when referring to his earlier encounter with Melchizedek.

We also have references to Melchizedek in the Psalms and Hebrews, the latter which provides the most intriguing information as the writer describes Melchizedek as being without mother or father.

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 7:3 NASV)

Some have suggested that Melchizedek may have been a pre-incarnate form of Christ as He is described as having no beginning or end. But the writer of Hebrews says he was only “like” the Son of God, and the reference to having no parents may simply be referring to Melchizedek’s lack of genealogy.

King David’s references to Melchizedek in his Messianic Psalm (Psalm 110) suggests if Mechizedek is not the pre-incarnate Christ,  at the very least Melchizedek was a type of Christ.

But, Melchizedek’s priesthood is described as going on into perpetuity and the writer of Hebrews mentioned earlier that Jesus was a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, which may support the position that they are not the same person. Certainly there are arguments for both conclusions:

20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:20 NASV)

The Greek word for order (taxis) refers to a line of succession, suggesting there was an order of Melchizedekian priests.

We know at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11), God created the nations when the people were broken apart by languages. Though the people verged off into their own groups, the history prior to Babel would be common to all of them.

This is why we find references to the flood in the history of people groups around the world from the aborigines in Australia to people living in Africa and South America. Shortly after the flood and before Babel, Noah set up an altar to make sacrifices to Jehovah (Genesis 8:20).

This too would be common to all cultures and though they veered off into various forms of idolatry, there nevertheless would be a memory of Jehovah and it makes me wonder if Melchizedek was part of an order of priests who carried on the worship of the true God, Jehovah, in ancient cultures.



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