After the Order of Melchizedek (Part 2)

After the Order of Melchizedek (Part 2)
James Scott Trimm

There have a lot of creative interpretations of just what a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” is. In part one we discussed the Pashat and Remez, the literal and implied meaning of the verses in question. In part 2 we are going to go much deeper, into the Drash and Sod (allegorical/homiletic and and hidden/mystical meaning of these verses.

As in part one, to get a good idea of what this phrase really means, lets begin by looking at it in the original Hebrew. Where the KJV has “after the order of Melchizedek” the actual Hebrew is:

עַל־דִּ֝בְרָתִ֗י מַלְכִּי־צֶֽדֶק

This phrase עַל־דִּ֝בְרָתִ֗י is a compound of two words על which is a preposition meaning “about, concerning, upon” and דברתי “word, speech, cause”.

A different Rabbinic interpretation appears in the Targum to the Psalms, which applies Psalm 110 to King David rather than Avraham.  It has:

The Lord has sworn and will not turn aside, that you [King David] are appointed leader in the age to come, because of the merit that you were a righteous king. (Targum Psalm 110:4)

קַיָם יְיָ וְלָא יְתוּב דְאַנְתְּ מִתְמַנֵי לְרַבָּא לְעַלְמָא דְאָתֵי בְּגִין זְכוּתָא דַהֲוֵיתָא מְלַךְ זַכַּי:

The Midrash Tehillim (Midrash on Psalms) identifies the “My Adon” of Psalm 110:1 as Messiah.  According to the Midrash Tehillim:

The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you at My right hand. To the Messiah it will also be said, and in mercy the throne be established;
(Midrash Tehillim on Ps. 110:1)

According to the Zohar in this verse one aspect of the Godhead is speaking to another aspect of the Godhead:

Rabbi Simeon further gave an exposition of the verse: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand Until I make your enemies your footstool (Ps. 110:1) “The Lord says unto my Lord”: to wit, the upper grade [of the Godhead], said to the lower [grade of the Godhead], “sit at My right hand”,…
(Zohar 1:50b)

However the Zohar goes even deeper than this. The passage in question involves a “lost” reading of the Zohar recovered from actual manuscripts, which has not appeared (until recently) in any printed editions of the Zohar in Aramaic, or any other language.

A footnote (footnote 36 to Vol. 12 p. 307 to the Pritzker edition says “Here begins a lengthy and fascinating narrative, extending to p. 363 at n. 228. The version translated her represents the full text in its correct sequence (which has never appeared before as such in any printed version, either Aramaic or English). I [Daniel C. Matt] was able to reconstruct this full version based on several manuscripts…”)

The reading is discussing the word “You” in the phrase “You are my Elohim…” (Isaiah 25:1) and says:

You are priest forever; on My Word, Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).

“What is meant by My Word, Melchizedek? Well, this supernal Priest is the one poised on the Word, since the Word endures only through the right. And who is that Word? Melchizedek is its name. As for his saying My Word– because it is linked with David, and all his words of praise reach that Word, so My Word. And therefore, You— the Priest. We have already established that there ore three places, each of which is called You.

“I will exalt Youall as one.

(The Zohar; Pritzker Edition; Volume 9 p. 309)

I have edited the above only in capitalizing the word “Word” and in bold facing for emphasis. (the original had selective italics which were lost when the whole was italicized as a quote).

Here the Zohar is saying that the “You” who is “Elohim” in Isaiah 25:1 is the same as the “You” who is a priest forever in Psalm 110:4, and that the phrase עַל־דִּ֝בְרָתִ֗י means “upon my Word” because this priesthood is being bestowed “upon My Word” because it relates to David (who, in the Zohar represents the Sefira of Tifret, which is the focal point of the Middle Pillar of the Godhead, which the Zohar elsewhere calls the “Son of Yah”. (For more on the one known as the “Word” in the Zohar, see my recent blog The Word Revealed in the Zohar )

This idea parallels the Melchizadek Document (11Q13) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which speaks of a redemptive Melchizedek figure, which it identifies as “El” and Elohim” and even quotes Isaiah 61:2 substituting “Melchizedek” for YHWH. (See my blog The Melchizedek Document (11Q13) Unveiled.)

It also finds its parallel in s statement by the first Century Jewish writer, Philo of Alexandria:

XXVI. (82) But Melchisedek shall bring forward wine instead of water, and shall give your souls to drink, and shall cheer them with unmixed wine, in order that they may be wholly occupied with a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself. For the Word is a priest, having, as its inheritance the true God, and entertaining lofty and sublime and magnificent ideas about him, “for he is the priest of the most high God.”{38}{Genesis 14:18.} Not that there is any other God who is not the most high; for God being one, is in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other besides Him.”{39}{Deuteronomy 4:39.} But he sets in motion the notion of the Most High, from his conceiving of God not in a low and grovelling spirit, but in one of exceeding greatness, and exceeding sublimity, apart from any conceptions of matter. (“De Allegoriis Legum,” iii. 26).

All of this helps us understand Paul’s statements about “Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11-21)

In part one we learned that Am-Yisreal was made a priest forever according to the words of Melchizedek to Avraham, making the people of Israel a “nation of Priests” and in part two we learned that by an even deeper meaning, this same passage is telling us that Messiah is a “Priest forever” because that Priesthood is “upon My Word” (and Messiah is the Word made flesh (John 1:1-14)).

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