Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

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Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:13 pm

Bodinger, Martin. “L'énigme de Melkisédeq.” Revue de l'Histoire des Religions 211 (1994), 297–333. Translated from the French: all errors mine.
LINK to Jstor
Variant Spellings: Melchizedek Melkisédeq Melkisedeq Milki-çedek מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶֿק Melchisedech Malki Tzedek Melkizedek Melchisedek

Several years ago, investigating the frankly implausible 'reported' origins of a major 20th C. book (over 40 mln copies sold), I identified the actual text sources and ultimately discovered the true anonymous authors (ghostwriters) themselves. On the more difficult question, HOW they crafted the book (conceptually: why they selected those particular Hellenistic Jewish ideas), I could discern a pattern from their own intellectual formation, a mirroring of professors' and colleagues' works from the period. But since no drafts or diaries exist, I am left to piece together random fragments of a literary puzzle - one bequeathed to us by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Perhaps the most profound question for 'believers' in my Fellowship, who was this "God" they conceived? descended like an epiphany: He is the Sun-God of the Therapeutae, Logos/Melchizedek. This radical concept set me off on another by-way, the search for 'their' Melchizedek. And that hunt brought me to this BC&HF site about 9 months ago.

The best synopsis of the Melchizedek Topic I've yet found is summarized in Martin Bodinger's 1994 essay. Without any connection, coincidentally, half-a-century later Bodinger followed a similar logic and interpretation that my anonymous authors adopted (perhaps following Gershom Scholem's suggestion, from a talk attended in the Spring of 1938). And since his important work may prove useful to others, I share my effort at translation, with apologies for any errors (grammar, formatting glitches, etc.) in advance.
Last edited by billd89 on Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:16 pm

Page 298


Melchizedek1 is an enigmatic character. He appears in an unusual way and without any connection with the text in two passages of the Old Testament; he also reappears in the Qumran texts, in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in a number of Gnostic books. In addition, he appears frequently in Patristic and rabbinical literature2. Why is he so important?
A first response is offered by the role he plays in Epistle to the Hebrews, a role of major importance for Christian theology. Another is suggested by the character of the Old Testament texts where he is mentioned. These are problematic texts, which the presence of Melchizedek is not likely to simplify; on the contrary.
It should also be observed that Melchizedek is unique, in that he is the only non-Jewish character of the Old Testament to appear in the Psalms and the only mortal , in eschatological literature, who becomes a divine figure with Messianic features.
His enigmatic character permitted the author of Epistle to the Hebrews to construct a theological status for him quite different from that which he had previously.
Research dedicated to him can be grouped into two categories: that which examines the personnage within the context of the cycle of Abraham legends, and another which deals with his messianic functions. These studies generally address literary and

1. The spelling of the name is of secondary importance here. But cf. the opinion of J. T. Milik, “Milki-çedek et Milki-reša dans les anciens récits juifs et chrétiens,” JJS, 23, [1972], p.95, n. 1.
2. Cf. Fred L. Horton, The Melchizedek Tradition, Cambridge, [1976] (hearafter, “Horton”). An update, especially for the Qumran texts, can be found in E. Puech, “Notes sur le manuscrit de 11Q Melchisedeq,” RQ, 12, [1986], pp.480-513.

textual aspects, the structure, their Sitz im Leben, without paying any particular attention to Melchizedek, sometimes even ignoring him.
To my knowledge, the only author who has sought an explanation for Melchizedek’s importance was Fred L. Horton, who nevertheless leaves unanswered the question of the character’s presence in Qumran’s manuscripts, and especially the problem of his origin (which preoccupies him, moreover, very little). He puts at the center of his attention the question of Melchizedek’s presence in Epistle to the Hebrews, to which he subordinated all other questions.
Most commentators have no doubts about Melchizedek’s historical existence and functions as king and priest in Jerusalem. One usually thinks that he must have been an important figure in the history of Canaan; otherwise, it is difficult to explain the choice of the author who has included him in the Genesis text3. Mowinckel attaches an essential importance to his dual function, which ensured the well-being of the people and came directly from the divine nature which was attributed to kings in the ancient Orient4.
Without doubt, an historically existent Melchizedek is possible. But we have no proof. R. H. Smith, for example, seeks proofs in a comparative study of Semitic literary texts. But the existence of motifs and analogous models can only accentuate the mythical character of this personnage5. Remarks Horton: to admit the reality of Melchizedek, we must first assume the literary unity and documentary character of Genesis14, and accept the identification between Salem and Jerusalem6. All of these presumptions lack sufficient evidence.

3.Cf. “Horton”, pp.32-38.
4.S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien. III. Kultprophetie und prophetische Psalmen, Amsterdam, [1966], pp.91-92.
5.Cf. J. R. Kirkland, “The incident at Salem. A Reexamination of Genesis “14: 18-20, SBT, 7, 1977, pp.4; R. H. Smith, “Abram and Melchizedek” (Gen 14: 18-20), ZAW, 7, [1855], p.131. See also M. Peter, “Die historische Wahrheit in Genesis 14,” in De la Torah au Messie, Paris, [1981], p.103.
6.Cf. “Horton”, p.35, n.3, and also pp.50-51; his conclusion is negative.

Today we recognize that Genesis 14 is a composite text and that verses 18-20 are an interpolation. Their origin is not clear and depends on the date of preparation of the chapter, which is controversial, as, moreover, other aspects of this text: the historical character of the story, or its literary structure7.
As for Psalm 110, Melchizedek appears there in a meteoric fashion and there is nothing to establish either to whom the Verse in question is addressed, nor to what it is ultimately about. Commentators8 have tried to rely upon Genesis 14, but without establishing whether there is any link between the two texts other than Melchizedek’s presence. Reading the texts also allows us to note that no religious ceremony justifies the title of ‘priest’ given to Melchizedek in the Psalm, just as the king of Genesis 14 does not perform any action worthy of this title9.
Many scholars do not doubt the historical character of Abraham, although it is not a proven fact. W. F. Albright sought for a long time to prove that the Israelites were caravanners and merchants, without succeeding in convincing10; without that his

7.Cf. among the most recent research on this subject, JA Emerton, “The riddle of Genesis XIV,” VT, 21, 1971, pp.403-439, and — by the same author — “Some problems in Genesis XIV,” in Studies in the Pentateuch (Supplements to VT), Leiden, 1990, pp.75-102. Cf. also J. Doré, “La rencontre Abraham-Melchisédech et le problème de l’unité littéraire de Genesis 14,” in De la Torah au Messie..., pp.75-95; C. Westermann, Genesis 12-36. A Commentary, Minneapolis, 1981, pp.82-208. 8.On Psalm 110 cf. among others E. R. Hardy, “The date of Psalm 110,” JBL, 64, 1945, pp.385-390; Helen G. Jefferson, “Is Psalm 110 canaanite?”, JBL, 73, 1954, pp.152-156; J. L. McKenzie, “Royal messianism,” CBQ, 19, 1947, pp.34-36; A. Caquot, “Remarques sur le psaume CX,” Semitica, 6, 1936, pp.33-52; J. Coppens, “Les apports du psaume CX (Vulg CIX) à l’idéologie royale israélite,” in The Sacral Kingship, Leiden, 1959, pp.333-348; R. Tournay, Le psaume CX, RB, 67, 1960, pp.5-41; S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien ..., pp.88-93; J. W. Bowker, Psalm CX, VT, 17, 1987, pp.31-41; M. Dahood, “Psalms III. 101-150” (The Anchor Bible), Garden City, 1970, pp.112-120. The difficulties of the text have been summarized in “Horton”, pp.23-29. See also RJ Tournay, Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms, Sheffield, 1991, pp.209-216, and Th. Booij, Psalm CX: “Rule in the midst of your foes”, VT, 41, 1991, pp.396-407.
9.C. Westermann, Genesis ..., pp.205.
10.L. Woolley, Abraham. Recent Discoveries and Hebrew Origins, London, 1956, is not convincing. On the hypothesis of WF Albright, with whom we can associate Cyrus Gordon, “Abraham and the Merchants from Ura,” JNES, 17, 1958, pp.28-31, and LR Fisher, “Abraham and his Priest-King,” JBL, 71, 1962, pp.264-270, v. the analysis of M. Weippert, Abraham der Hebrâer ?, Biblica, 52, 1971, pp.407-453.

Abraham has no historical reality. Many researchers, like Van Seters and T.L. Thompson, believe Abraham did not exist as an individual11.
If he is not a historical figure, we must ask ourselves where this Melchizedek comes from and why he is present in these texts. Without going over the whole discussion12, I believe we can establish a few sure points.
The first is the composite character of Genesis Chapter 14. This chapter consists of three parts: a) an account of the action taken by Abraham to save Lot and of his confrontation with the king of Sodom; b) the record of a military campaign undertaken in Canaan by a coalition of four ‘eastern’ kings; c) the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek. It has also been established that Chapter 14 is not linked to any of the sources which comprise the Pentateuch and that, despite the antiquity of the elements that compose it, it was most probably written after the completion of the first five books of the Bible. Some researchers believe that b) could have as its source an Akkadian chronicle13.
The Melchizedek personnage remains at the center of the problem, and any explanation of the chapter must take this into account. We must begin by underlining a very clear fact, which has not attracted much attention: if the elements which compose

11.J. van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, New Haven, 1975, pp.296-308; Th. L. Thompson, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives, Berlin, [1974].
12. “Horton” offers a statement of most opinions. See also the articles cited above (n.7-8).
13 See I. Benzinger, “Zur Quellenscheidung in Gen 14,” ZAW, 41, [1925], pp.21-28; J. Meinhold, 1 Moses 14. Eine historisch-kritische Untersuchung, Giessen, [1911]; J. Skinner, A critical and exegetical Commentary on Genesis, Edinburgh, [1930], p.286, thinks it is a fictitious account; J. Gammie, “Loci of the Melchizedek Tradition of Genesis 14:18-20,” JBL, 90, [1971], pp.4-5, n.8; M. Peter, “Wer sprach der Segen nach Genesis XIV uber Abraham ?,” VT, 29, [1979], pp.114-120; E.A. Speiser, “Genesis” (The Anchor Bible), Garden City, [1964], pp.105-108, maintains the Akkadian origin, which “Horton”, pp.18-19, rejects. M. Sarna believes that (for the moment) there are no independent sources for events recounted in this chapter: cf. The Torah. Commentary, Philadelphia, [1989], p.103.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:17 pm

this chapter are very old, it means that originally they may have had a very different meaning from that received when the chapter was written. The story a) was, perhaps, taken from a cycle of legends about Lot, whose hero was other than Abraham. The relation b) would have had an origin very distant from the place where it takes place in Chapter 14 and was introduced to enhance the figure of the Patriarch.
As for Verses 18-20, their meaning changes depending on whether they are assigned a pre-Exilic date (in the time of the Davidic kings) or a Post-Exilic. In the first case, their introduction would have had the goal of affirming the legitimacy of the Davidic dynasty (from the priesthood of Zadok’s descendants) and Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom14. The other interpretation sees a formula for legitimizing the Hasmonean dynasty of kings-priests, of which Melchizedek would be the archetype15.
From all the arguments in favor of one or the other of these hypotheses, we can adopt some conclusions. First, the terminus a quo in the drafting of the Chapter cannot go later than that of the Pentateuch16. The presence of the name ‘El Elyon’ speaks in the same sense, the existence of such a syncretism in the Davidic era remaining without proof 17.

14. H. H. Rowley, “Melchizedek and Zadok” (Gen 14 and Ps 110), in Festschrift Alfred Bertholet, Tubingen, [1950], pp.461-472; H. H. Rowley, “Zadok and Nehustan,” JBL, 58, [1939], pp.113-141; H. H. Rowley, “Melchizedek and David,” VT, 17, 1967, p.485. Rowley’s goal being to establish Zadok’s origin, Melchizedek worried him only from this point of view. See also S. Olyan, “Zadok’s origins and the tribal politics of David,” JBL, 101/102, [1987], pp.177-179;
G. H. Jones, The Nathan Narratives, Sheffield, [1990], pp.128-129.
15. Cf. J. van Seters, Abraham ..., pp.307-308; J. Meinhold, 1 Moses ..., passim; H. Morgenstern, “Genesis 14,” in Studies in Jewish Literature, Berlin, 1913, pp.223-236; J. A. Looder, A Tale of Two Cities, Kampen, [1990], p.54.
16. G. Westermann, Genesis 12-36 ..., p.192. See also the opinion of M. С. Astour, “Political and cosmic symbolism in Genesis 14 and its Babylonian sources,” in Biblical Motifs. Origins and Transformation, ed. by A. Altman, Cambridge, 1966, pp.70-74.
17. Cf., among others, J. Morgenstern, “Genesis 14 ...”, pp.234-235; G. Levi Delia Vida, El Elyon in Genesis 14: 18-20, JBL, 68, 1944, pp.1-9; R. Lack, “The origins of ELYON, The Most High, in the worship tradition of Israel,” CBQ, 24, [1962], pp.42-64; R. Rendtorff, “The background of the title El Elyon in Genesis 14,” in Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Papers, v. 1, Jerusalem, 1967, pp.167-170; J. van Seters, Abraham ..., p.307. Emerton supports in his recent article the hypothesis of an El Elyon-Yahweh syncretism in the pre-exile era; his argument does not seem convincing to me. References on which his hypothesis is based do not have a precise date, which he recognizes (cf. J. A. Emerton, “Some problems ...”, pp.98-100). There is no evidence for the existence of a cult of El Elyon in Jerusalem during the time of the Jebusites.  

According to the current interpretation of the Chapter, the double role assigned to Melchizedek is another argument in favor of a Post-Exilic date. If kings-priests existed among the Egyptians, or even among Semitic peoples, this does not apply to the Hebrews before the exile. Kirkland argues that this dual role is ‘common knowledge,’ but it could be more of a common error. Jewish kings sometimes performed priestly functions, but this proves nothing. Throughout the monarchical era and before, we find judges, prophets, and common people who acted as priests; before Exile, this function did not have the importance attributed to it afterwards18.
To support the formula of the double role, the sacred character of the Semitic kings is often invoked19. I do not see why the attribute of sacredness should at the same time confer on the king the role of ‘priest’. In any case, the existence of a dynasty of kings-priests in Jerusalem is by no means demonstrated20.

18. Cf. N. R. Lemche, Ancient Israel. A New History of Israelite Society, Sheffield, [1988], pp.205-207. The existence of kings-priests in Canaan is not attested, recognizes J. Skinner, A critical ..., pp.268. Tournay considers that no Jewish king, from David to Josiah, could have claimed the title of priest, whatever his properly priestly actions (R. Tournay, “Le psaume CX ...”, p.27). Sarna also points out that in Israel the two functions were separated from the beginning (The JPS Commentary ..., p.110). Wenham thinks that the title of ‘priest’ given to the sons of David (2 Samuel 8: 16-18) has a secular character and not an ecclesiastical one (cf. GJ Wenham, “Were David’s Sons Priests ?,” ZAW, 87, [1973], pp.79-82). Landesdorfer, even supporting the hypothesis of the dual function, recognizes that the priestly activity of the kings of Israel was very occasional (S. Landesdorfer, “Das Priesterkônigtum von Salem,” JSOR, 9, [1925], p.213). Booij recognizes that there is little chance that a title of priest was conferred on the king before the exile (cf. Th. Booij, “Psalm CX ...”, p.406). See also “Horton”, pp.45-46, and I. p.Veinberg, Tsarskaia biografiia na Blizhnem Vostoke Itys. do n.e., VDI, No. 4, [1990], pp.89-90. On the importance of priests before the exile, cf. L.Rošt, “Der Status des Priesters in der Kônigszeit,” in Wort und Geschichte, Festschrift fur Karl Elliger, Kevelaer, [1975], pp.153-156.
19. E.g. J.Doré, “La rencontre...”, p.25 and note 28; J. R. Kirkland, “The Incident ...”, p.11; S. Mowinckel, “General oriental and specific Israelite elements in the israelite conception of the sacral kingship,” in The Sacral Kingship Leiden, [1959], pp.283-293.
20. “Horton”, pp.41, 45.

All these difficulties encountered by the hypothesis of the pre-Exile date of Chapter 14 cannot be overcome without contradicting the meaning of the text.
It must be said that the other hypothesis, according to which Melchizedek represents the Hasmonean dynasty, is in a no less difficult situation. The most serious objection comes from the monotheistic and national character of this monarchy, incompatible with the figure of a non-Jewish priest-king as an ancestor.
As no hypothesis is therefore satisfactory, the problem of the date of the text is added to that of the character of the character.
Psalm 110 (Vulg.109) is no less difficult. The supposed date of its writing varies between the Canaanite period and that of the Hasmoneans22. Sometimes it is made an oracle, sometimes a coronation hymn. All commentators recognize the obscurity of the text. To cite just one example, there is no interpretation satisfying the term al dibrati of the Verse 4.
Most commentators see this Psalm as a song of the king’s investiture. But the atmosphere of the text is rather warlike. The king to whom the author of the Psalm is addressing is a warrior, and God himself fights at his side. They are engaged in a cosmic

21. Cf. J. A. Emerton, “The riddle ...”, pp.414-419. The question of the restoration of the monarchy was really on the agenda after the return from exile; for the Hasmoneans their legitimacy and their right to perform both functions were of great importance; cf. A. Caquot, Le messianisme qumrânien, in Qumrân, sa piété, sa théologie et son milieu, Paris, 1978, pp.237-238. However, they did not invoke (at least directly) Melchizedek to support their claims (cf. J. Coppens, “Les contributions ...”, pp.344).
22. H. G. Jefferson, “Is Psalm 110 ...”, pp. 152-156; A. Caquot, “Remarques ...”, pp.33-52; E. R. Hardy, “The date ...”, pp.383-390; J. W. Bowker, “Psalm CX ...”, pp.31-41; R. Tournay, “Le psaume CX ...”, pp.5-41; M. Gilbert, S. Pisano, “Psalm 110 (109)”, 5-7, Biblica, 63, 1980, pp.347-356; “Horton”, pp.29-33.
23. S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien ..., pp.88-93; J. Coppens, “Les contributions ...”, pp.333-348; M. Dahood, Psalms III ..., pp.12. See also M. Z. Brettler, God the King, Sheffield, 1989, pp.127-139. E. Lipinski, “Studies on the” messianic “texts of the Old Testament,” Semitica, 20, 1970, pp.56-57, thinks that in this psalm he. It is about the investiture of the priest Sadoq. According to G. Gerleman this psalm would be dedicated to Judah, the ancestor of David and the namesake of the first Maccabee (G. Gerleman, Psalm CX, VT, 31, 1981, pp.1-12).

conflict comparable to the fights against Gog, against Rahab or against the great Dragon24.
Commentators like Gaster, Pedersen, Del Medico, Lipinski, have sought to get rid of Melchizedek, translating this name “just king” or “legitimate king”, so to avoid in this way difficulties arising from his presence in the text of the Psalm. Other researchers believe his presence has the role attributed to him in Genesis 1425. But the text of this chapter is, in turn, commented on under the influence of the interpretation given to the text of Psalm 110 — and thus one arrives at a vicious circle.
We must therefore approach the problem in a completely different way.
The drafting of Chapter 14 is not very old — as we have seen; but its elements are. This wording must take place at a time of political stagnation, when the evocation of the glorious figure of the patriarch would have arisen in compensation26. In the text there is also a clear polemic tendency directed at a person or a political force located in the east, beyond the Jordan. The goal is clear: to underscore the Jewish people’s seniority on their land, their legitimacy, in the face of outside pressure. This is why at the center is the confrontation between Abram and the king of Sodom. Their relations are hardly friendly, rather even rival. The king of Sodom is beaten and (perhaps) almost killed, while Abram, with a handful of warriors27, overwhelms the enemy and obtains a

24. Cf. H. G. May, “Cosmological reference in the Qumran doctrine of the two spirits and in old testament imagery,” JBL, 1963, p.16.
25. Thus E. R. Hardy, “The date ...”, pp.389; S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudien, .., pp.91; A. Caquot, “Remarques ...”, pp.44-45; J. A. Fitzmyer, “Now this Melchizedek ...” (Heb. 7, 1), CBQ, 25, 1963, pp.207; J. W. Bowker, Psalm CX ...”, pp.37; and see the opinion of M. Dahood, Psalms III ..., pp.197.
26. J. Doré, “The meeting ...”, pp.688; J. Gray, “The desert God ‘Attar in the literature and religion of Canaan,” JNES, 8, 1949, pp.81; J. Skinner, A Critical ..., pp.255; P.Asmussen, “Gen 14, ein politisches Flugblatt,” ZAW, 34, 1914, pp.36-41. See also “Horton”, pp.23, and J. Goldway, The patriarchs in scripture and tradition, in Essay on the Patriarchal Narrative, Leicester, 1980, pp.14.
27. I believe that such a small number of warriors was intended to further enhance the figure of the patriarch; the process is found elsewhere in the Old Testament.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:19 pm

large booty. The story emphasizes the independent attitude of the patriarch, who refused any additional remuneration from the king28.
The writing of Genesis Chapter 14 could go back to the fourth or third century BC, under the empire of the conflict between the Oniads and the Tobiads {c.220 BC}.
I will not recount in detail this conflict29. Aspirations for power of the wealthy Tobiad family caused a strong reaction in patriotic and Orthodox circles in Jerusalem, for whom the Tobiads were pagans, promoters of Hellenism. This reaction manifests itself, among other things, in the form of the introduction into the Old Testament of passages which could serve to reproach opponents. Chapter 14 asserted the superiority of the Hebrews’ Patriarch and insinuated that the ancestor of the Ammonites was his debtor. The king of Sodom, ally of Lot — and therefore the symbol of the pagan allies of the Tobiads —, appears inferior to Abraham, but also to Melchizedek, who here plays the role of symbol of the city Jerusalem and perhaps also of the legitimate family of the Oniad high priests (his true identity being forgotten). At the same time, Melchizedek could help destroy the Tobiads’ alliance with the Samaritans, by offering the latter the opportunity for reconciliation with the Jews through recognition of their hero, by moving the place of his residence from Mount Garizim to Mount Zion. Let us remember that the Samaritans also called themselves ‘Hebrews’, because of Abraham30.

28. N.M. Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary ..., p.109, points out that the formula used in Verse 17 often takes the meaning of ‘confronting each other’. The king of Sodom and Abraham confront each other, while Melchizedek blesses the latter.
29. Cf. B. Mazar, The Tobiads, IEJ, 7, [1957], pp.137-145, 229-238; V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, Philadelphia, [1959], passim; J. Goldstein, “The tales of the Tobiads,” CJGR, v. 3, pp. 85-123; M. Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics that shaped the Old Testament, New York, [1971], pp.131-134. See also Cl. Orrieux, “The papyrus of Zenon and the prehistory of the Maccabean movement,” in Hellenistica et Judaica, Paris, [1986], pp.321-333 with interesting details on the social and economic condition of the Tobiads.
30. Cf. Flavius Josephus, Antiq., XI, 8, 6, 344. p. Asmussen saw in Gen 14 a political manifesto, intended to support the rights of the Hebrews who were in exile in their homeland; cf. P. Asmussen, “Genesis 14 ...”, pp.36-41.

Now is the time to point out that this name has often been misunderstood. Commentators see it as the name given to Jews by foreigners and insistently seek the link between ‘Hebrews’ and ‘Habiru’ in Egyptian texts31. In an interesting thesis, A.Arazy demonstrated that this name was used above all to underline the seniority of the people, the connection to the Patriarchs32. ‘Abram the Hebrew’ symbolizes the entire people, true sons of Israel — while the Tobiads are presented as descendants of the Ammonites (cf. Nehemiah 2:10,19). A similar allusion is found in Psalm 83: “the children of Lot” are Tobiads. The Psalm tells of the attack of Israel’s neighbors, allied with “Ashur” (the Syrians?) against the former. We find this theme in the Book of Jubilees; it was undoubtedly a frequent occurrence33. Therefore, the equation ‘Lot = Tobiads’ was not an isolated formula.
The names the author gives to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah also have a symbolic meaning, as M.C. Astour has observed. Bera and Beresha mean Evil, injustice; obviously, we have looked to underscore the opposition between forces of Evil and those of Good, symbolized by Melchizedek.34 On the other hand, in the name Bera we can find an allusion to the name Birrha, the city of the Tobiads.
M. Peter thinks that the core of the Chapter is formed by the history of relations between Abraham and the king of Sodom.

31. Cf. eg. E. A. Speiser, Genesis ..., p.108.
32. Cf. A. Arazy, The Appelations of the Jews (Ioudaios, Hebraios, Israel) in the Literature from Alexander to Justinian. Diss., Ann Arbor, 1977.
33. L. Finkelstein, Pharisaism in the Making, New York, [1972], pp.113-115. The relationship between Abraham and Lot that Coats discovers (cf. GW Coats, “Lot: A foil in the Abraham Saga, in Understanding the Word,” Essays in honor of Bernhard W. Anderson, Sheffield, [1985], pp.113-132) do not contradict this hypothesis and I believe that, even in this formula, the episode of Chapter 14 appears to be late compared to the others.
34. M.C. Astour, “Political and Cosmic ...”, pp.65-66. Others have also noticed the artificial character of these names, but without grasping their symbolic meaning: cf. J.Skinner, A Critical ..., pp.259; H. S. Nyberg, Studien Zum Religionskampf im Alten Testament, Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft, 35, [1938], p.359; R. De Vaux, Histoire ancienne d’Israël, Paris, [1971], p.209; J. W. Bowker, “Psalm CX ...”, O. 38-39; G. A. Rendsburg, The Redaction of Genesis, Vinona Lake, [1986], p.39.

This last, who hired Abraham to fight against the invaders, after having received tithe from him, offers him all the booty
and blessed him in the name of God El-Elyon, supreme god of his locale and protector of warriors. If we accept this hypothesis, Verses 19-20 should be included in part a) of the Chapter, and the Melchizedek episode is reduced to Verse 18. No doubt the writer thought that Abraham’s blessing would be better placed in Melchizedek’s mouth rather than the king of Sodom’s.


Who is Melchizedek?
After noticing the lack of arguments for a ‘king-priest’formula, Horton suggests that it may be of a local chief, whose function was transferred to kings of the Davidic monarchy36. Although better argued, this assumption is unacceptable however. In the period, a small chief in Jerusalem was under authority of Egypt, and it was impossible that he would be given such a large role. The place that Melchizedek occupies in Chapter 14 and in Psalm 110 suggests he originally occupied a more important position.
H. W. Hertzberg was probably the first who saw the solution, when he asserted the story of Melchizedek was the hieros gamos {mystical union} of a Canaanite sanctuary which later became Jewish. J. T. Milik, without citing Hertzberg, sees in Melchizedek the chief of the armies of Heaven, who appears to Abraham in the guise of a distinguished nobleman but who does not hide his divine origin; his function as Priest is only the reflection of that which he exercises in the heavenly Temple37. Milik identifies Melchizedek with the Archangel Michael (I will come back to this below).

35. M. Peter, Wer sprach ..., VT, 29, 1971, pp.114-119. I believe that Peter’s hypothesis is not acceptable; the meaning that it gives to the confrontation between Abraham and the king of Sodom contradicts the spirit of the whole story.
36. “Horton”, pp.51-52.
37. J.T. Milik, “Milki-Sedek ...”, p.137; H.W. Hertzberg, “Die Melkisedeq-Traditionen,” JPOS, 8, [1928], p.178. More recently, M.С. Astour estimates that in Psalm 110:4 Melchizedek is a supernatural being, eternal priest of God, comparable to Helel ben Shahar — “the star of the morning, son of Aurora” of Isaiah 14:12. Cf. M. C. Astour, art. “Melchizedek” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, v.4, Garden City, [1992], p.685.

I think we have to go to the end of this hypothesis and affirm that Melchizedek, in Genesis 14 and in the Psalm 110, is none other than the solar god Zedek, well known among the Semites. In support of this opinion, I believe I should first emphasize the strong similarity of structure and content between the religion of the peoples of Canaan and Israel before the victory of monotheism38. In pre-Israelite Canaan there was a Sun-cult under various names and in various places; this cult influenced, no doubt, the beliefs and religious institutions of the Hebrews. Traces of this cult are visible in archaeological finds, as are the traces of its influence in the Old Testament. Zedek is one of the names of this god39. Many commentators have underlined the theophorical character of the name ‘Melchizedek’ but without drawing the consequences40. We usually explains this name by

38. The recent hypothesis on the origins of the Jewish people, advanced by the Scandinavian school, according to which the Israelite tribes (at least those of the North) originated from Canaan and the myth of the conquest would be the product of exile, does not contradict but rather confirms the close kinship between the religious beliefs of the Hebrews and Canaanites; cf. N. Lemche, Ancient Israel and also his Anthropological and Historical Studies on the Israelite Society before the Monarchy, Leiden, 1955.
39. R.A. Rosenberg, “The God Sedeq,” HUCA, 36, [1965], pp.161-177; F.M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Cambridge, [1959], p.209; J. Krašovec, La Justice (ÇDQ) de Dieu dans la Bible hébraïque et V interpretation juive et chrétienne, Freiburg, [1988], pp.50-53.
40. Cf. H.H. Rowley, “Zadok and Nehuštan ...”, p.150; H.H. Rowley, “Melchizedek and Zadok ...”, p.465; H. Schmid, Melchizedek und Abraham, Zadok und David, Kairos, 7, [1965], pp.148-151; M. Delcor, Melchizedek from “Genesis to the Qumran texts and the epistle to the Hebrews,” JSJ, 2, [1971], pp.115-116; J.M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly Tribunal and the personification of Sèdeq in Jewish Apocalyptic,” ANRW 2, v.19, [1979], pp.226-229; J. Krašovec, La Justice ..., pp.50-54; R. Fisher, “Abraham ...”, p.29; “Horton”, p.53; P. J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchireša, Washington, [1981], pp.55-56 (further on “Kobelski”); For Kirkland (“The Incident ...”, pp.4-5) the name tells us nothing about the personality of the carrier, but rather about the seniority of the time — the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. We must also note the opinion of M. Peter, “Die historische Wahrheit ...”, p.105, n.48, according to which, from the etymological point of view, the name of Melchizedek is the translation of the Akkadian Šarru(n)kin = Sargon and means ‘king of justice’.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:21 pm

comparison with that of Adonizedek41, without noticing that in this Chapter the sun plays a particularly important role. It is to him that the chief of the Hebrews addresses the request to stop; there are parallels with Genesis 14 and I do not exclude a reciprocal influence.
‘Melekh’ and ‘Zedek’ are names of gods. But ‘Melekh’ is also a title, which the gods of the Semites carried and which underlined their royal power. There was Melkart in Tyre, Carthage and many other places, Milkashtart (which we interpret as Melekh of Ashtoret), Malkandros or Malk-Addr, present in Berytus and Sidon. In the Old Testament we find Milkom, supreme god of the Amorites42.
‘Zedek’ is, in turn, a name with multiple meanings: the most widespread is that of ‘Justice’, a main attribute of the sun-god not only among the Semites, but also among almost all the peoples who worshiped the Sun43. Researchers approached the problem in the opposite way: they think that it is the abstract notion of justice which was personified, against a monotheistic background. In fact, at the origin is the belief in the Sun-God, who later receives the attribute of Judge, alongside others; among the Semites, he appears as executor of the will of the supreme god. Among the Hebrews, the Sun-god became a being subordinate to God, and ‘Justice’ was transformed into an abstract attribute of the latter. But this evolution took place gradually and traces of the former

41. Jos., 10, 1; cf. eg. C. Westermann, Genesis 12-36 ..., pp.294; J. M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...”, pp.226, n. 30 ; J. Krašovec, La Justice ..., pp.51.
42. D. Pardee, “A new datum for the meaning of the name Milkashtart,” in Ascribe to the Lord, Biblical and Other Studies in Memory of Peter С. Craigie ..., Sheffield, 1988, pp.5-86; I. Levy, “Malcandre in the Eshmunazar inscription,” RA, 4th series, 4, 1904, pp.385-389. Regarding Milkom, cf. N. Schneider, Melchom, das Scheusal der Ammoniter, Biblica, 18, 1937, pp.337-343; E. Dhorme, The god Baal and the god Moloch in the biblical tradition, Anatolian Studies, 6, 1956, pp.59-60. See also p. Bordreuil, A propos de Milkou, Milqart and Milk’ashtart, in Sopher Mahir, Vinona Lake, 1991, pp.11-21.
43. Cf. Mal 3, 20 (“The Sun of Justice”). See also A. Caquot, “La divinité solar ougaritique,” Syria, 36, 1959, pp.93. Apollo and Ra were also gods of justice.

belief did not disappear completely, which allowed speculation44.
Without preconceived ideas, an analysis of Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 shows Melchizedek is a being superior to mortals, though his divinity is not made explicit. In Genesis 14 he is the intermediary between El Elyon and Abraham; this role as agent of God is played throughout the book by an angel, but never by a priest45.
Where does the name Melchizedek come from? I believe it’s a Hittite influence. A text found in the diplomatic archives of Ugarit (RS, 17.340 = PRU IV, pp.18-52) contains an almost identical formula: “The Sun, the Great King, my master.” In the context of the story of Abraham one need not be surprised at such a similarity. The sun-goddess of the Hittites bore the title of ‘Queen of Heaven and Earth’, which is very close to qone shamaiim va ares the title of El Elyon in Genesis 14:46. The Hittite formula is, without doubt, canonized and very ancient — possibly from the time of the Hebrew Patriarchs. Would ‘salem’ or ‘shalem’ be the ancient name of the city of Jerusalem? Some authors doubt it. Medieval traditions placed Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek in other places: Mount Garizim, Mount Tabor — which are, it should be noted, places linked to the cult of the Sun.

44. Cf. J. M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...”, pp.225-229; J. Sweetnam, “Some observations on the background of Saddiq in Jeremia 23, 5a,” Biblica,
46, 1965, pp. 29-40; C. F. Whittley, “Deutero-Isaiah’s interpretation of Sedeq,” VT, 22, 1972, pp.469-475; J. Weingren, “The title Moreh Sedek,” JSS, 6, 1961, pp.166-169. On Sédeq as the name of the god El Elyon, cf. H. Schmid, “Jahwe und die Kulttraditionen von Jerusalem,” ZAW, 67, 1955, pp.177. Zedek identified himself also with Marduk the Babylonian: cf. R. A. Rosenberg, “Yahweh becomes King,” JBL, 85, 1966, pp.301-304.
45. This is what Zimmerli underlines, who observes that Genesis 14 is the only passage of the Old Testament where an intermediary appears who is also a priest (W. Zimmerli, “Abraham und Melchisedek,” in Der feme und nahe Wort, Festschrift Leonhard Rost ..., Berlin, 1967, pp.260).
46. Y. Muffs, “Abraham the noble warrior; Patriarchal politics and laws of war in Ancient Israel,” JJS, 33, 1982, pp.84-86. Other examples in M. S. Smith, “The near eastern background of solar language for Yahwe,” JBL, 109, 1990, pp.35. On the cult of the Sun among the Hittites, cf. O. R. Gurney, The Hittites, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1952, pp.139. On the interpretation of the word qone, cf. G. Levi Delia Vida, “El Elyon ...”, pp.1; L. R. Fisher, “Abraham ...”, pp.264-270; H. Schmid, “Yahwe ...”, pp.181-182.

For Cameron Mckay the biblical ‘salem’ is Shechem; Gammie also talks about Shilo. Finally, R. H. Smith and R. Schmid mention Hebron. Horton maintains Salem’s identity with Jerusalem, a name that appears in the Amarna texts; but ‘Urusalim’ can also be Shechem. The most recent commentaries recognize that the Salem = Jerusalem equation can only be established in more recent times.47 But Salem is also the name of a well-known Semitic god. The gods Shahar and Shalim appear in the texts of ‘Ugarit and they are identified with the Dioscuri. Gray believes that these are hypostases of the god ‘Athtar that the Semitic nomads worshiped — Amorites and Arabs. He claims that Shalem had been known since the 19th century BC and that Jerusalem was one of the centers of this cult. For Nyberg, Shalem was another name for the god Elyon. On the other hand, ‘Melekh’ as the name of god was also linked to the Sun cult. Wood thought the Hebrews identified him with Yahweh. In any case, the title of ‘king’ for God appears frequently in the Old Testament48.

47. Cf. H. W. Hertzberg, “Die Melqisedek-Traditionen”; C. Mckay, Salem, PEQ, 1948-1949, pp.121-130; J. G. Gammie, “Loci ...”, pp.385-386; R. H. Smith, “Abraham ...”, pp.149; H. Schmid, “Melchisedek und Abraham ...”, pp.148-151; E. G. Kraeling, The early cult of Hebron and Judg 6: 1-3, AJSLL, 1, 1925, pp.174-178; J. Heinemann, Anti-samaritan polemics in the Aggadah, in Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies, v. 3, Jerusalem, 1973, pp.66. According to recent studies, the identification of the site of Ophel with the Urusalim of the letters of Amarna would be erroneous: cf. H. J. Franken and M. L. Steiner, Urusalim und Jebus, ZAW, 104, 1992, pp.110-111. On the pre-Israelite nature of worship in all these places, cf. also H. J. Kraus, Worship in Israel, Richmond, 1966, pp.134-136 (the author omits to speak of the cult of the Sun).
48. On the gods Shahar and Salem, cf. The birth of the gracious and beautiful gods, JPOS, 14, 1934, pp.133-140. Gen 14 commentators have ignored research like that of Barton (GA Barton, “A liturgy for the celebration of the spring festival at Jerusalem in the age of Abraham and Melchizedek,” JBL, 53, 1934, pp.61-78) or R Du Mesnil du Buisson, Studies on the Phoenician gods inherited by the Roman Empire, Leiden, 1970, pp.xviii-xix, and New studies on the gods and myths of Canaan, Leiden, 1979, pp.185-186. See also H. S. Nyberg, “Studien zur Religionskampf ...”, pp.261 (“Melek kann zur Gottesname oder Gotteszeichnung sein”). On Gray’s hypothesis, cf. J. Gray, “The Desert God ...”, pp.72-83; J. Gray, The Legacy of Canaan, Leiden, 1977, pp.135-147. A. Caquot rejects this hypothesis, but the link between Salem and the Sun is obvious (cf. A. Caquot, Le dieu ‘Athtar et les texts de Ras-Shamra, Syria, 35, 1958, pp.53; M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.115; H. Cazelles, Moloch, SDB, vol. 5, Paris, 1957, col. 1345. The title of king attributed to God is present in 1 Kings 11: 7; 2 Kings 16 : 3, 23: 5-10; Jer 7:31, 19: 5; Amos 7:13. Cf. WC Wood, “The religion of Canaan from the earliest times to the Hebrew conquest,” JBL, 35, 1916, pp.257 -258; E. Dhorme, “Le dieu Baal ...”, pp.59-61; J. Van Seters, The religion of the patriarchs in Genesis, Biblica, 65, 1980, pp.225, n. 16; H Schmid, “Yahwe ...”, pp.178-179; GH Jones, The Nathan Narratives ..., pp.127; there is also a rich literature on this problem..

‘Melekh Salem’ could therefore be another name of the Sun-god associated with El Elyon.
The latter, too, is a controversial name. The formula “El Elyon qone shamaiim va ares” has a very specific character. Most authors translate ‘qone’ to ‘creator’; but Levi Délia Vida thinks that this term means ‘master’ or ‘possessor’49. Such an interpretation facilitates association with ‘Baal’, the common name of the Canaanite and Phoenician gods.
There remains the title ‘cohen’. With regard to this one Horton mentions an important fact: in the Old Testament ‘cohen’ is not related exclusively to the priestly functions. It sometimes signifies a secular, civil or military function. In our text it can mean ‘military leader’50.
“Melkisédeq Melekh Salem cohen El Elyon” is therefore a complex name, which designates a solar god, subordinate to the supreme god, in whose name he commands the angels — or the stars51. There is still the formula “brought the bread and the wine”,

49. Cf. G. Levi Délia Vida, “El Elyon ...”, pp.1, n. 1. P. Humbert, “qânâ in Biblical Hebrew,” in Festschrift Alfred Bertholet ..., pp.259-266, while acknowledging that the meaning of ‘possessor’ is dominant in the Old Testament, nevertheless asserts that Gen 14 meaning is ‘creator’. See also N. C. Habel, “Yahwe, Maker of heaven and earth; a study in tradition criticism,” JBL, 91, 1972, pp.321-333. M. Peter thinks that this formula is the symbol of a very ancient Canaanite cult (M. Peter, “Die historische Wahrheit ...”, pp.102).
50. “Horton”, pp.45-48. It should be noted that in rabbinical literature “cohen” often has the meaning of “prince”; this can be seen in the commentaries on Psalm 110; cf. N. L. Straek and p.Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, v. 4, Munchen, 1965, pp.461. We have also translated “cohen” by “messenger of God” and “prophet”: cf. A. R. Johnson, The Cultic Prophet in Ancient Israel, Cardiff, 1962, pp.1-8.
51. J. Gray, “The Desert God ...”, pp.77. The heavenly host led by the sun was part of the Canaanite pantheon; the Hebrews adopted it (cf. A. Caquot, “La divinité ...”, pp.90-92). Cf. also on this formula P. Bordreuil, “A propos de Milkom ...”, pp.15-16.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:23 pm

whose meaning we are looking for. Kirkland associates it with the idea of alliance. Nyberg emphasizes the role of wine in the cult of Elyon. However, most commentators adopt the traditional interpretation52. But this formula has an unmistakable religious content: it is the symbolic expression of the beneficent action of the sun, which fertilizes the earth. Wheat and grapes were among the main crops in Canaan.
We must now return to the ‘geographical’ aspect, that is to say to the problem of where the center of the cult of Zedek was. I have already spoken of the diversity of places that we associate with Melchizedek. Jerusalem remains at the top of the list, however. J. Gray highlights the toponyms around this city. Baumgarten emphasizes the permanent association of the notion of justice with the city of Jerusalem. Emerton also supports this hypothesis, which remains dominant53.
It is probable that at some time the name ‘salem’ was identified with Jerusalem. The writer of Chapter 14 wanted to associate the patriarch Abraham with the holy city and this interpretation was the best. But was the solar god who was called Melchizedek associated with this city? We don’t know anything specific. J. J. Schmitt underlines, on the other hand, that — according to the texts of Amarna — the strongest city of Canaan was at the time Sichem and not Jerusalem54. The presence of the cult of the Sun in Shechem is attested not only by the Book of Jubilees, Eupolemos and other texts after the Exile, but also by the

52. Cf. J. R. Kirkland, “The Incident ...”, pp.12; H. S. Nyberg, “Studien zum Religionskampf ...”, pp.355; С Westermann, Genesis 12-36 ..., pp.205; G. Barton, “A Liturgy ...”, pp.63, 68; M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.118-119.
53. Cf. J. Gray, “The desert god ...”, pp.81; L. Vincent, Abraham in Jerusalem, RB, 58, 1951, pp.362-363; J. M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...”, pp.266, n. 30; J. A. Emerton, “The Riddle ...”, pp.413; J. A. Emerton, “The Site of Salem, the city of Melchizedek (Gen XIV, 18)”, in Studies in the Pentateuch (Suppl. To VT, v. 41), Leiden, 1990, pp.45-71; K. N. Deurloo, “Narrative geography in the Abraham cycle,” in Quest of the Past, ed. by A. S. Van der Woude, Leiden, 1990, pp.55-56.
54. Cf. J. J. Schmitt, Pre-israelite Jerusalem, in Scripture in Context, ed. by Carl D. Evans a.o., Pittsburgh, 1960, pp.102 and n. 11-12.

Book of Ezekiel and by the Samaritan tradition. We know for Sichem a firm tradition of the cult of ‘Theos Hypsistos’ {El Elyon: Most-High God} and we have noticed, on the other hand, the frequency of ‘Zedek’ in Samaritan onomastics. And it is not unnecessary to add that in Sichem there was also a ‘Gilgal’, therefore a monument dedicated to the cult of the Sun55. Gammie thinks that the multitude of places linked to the cult of Melchizedek is explained by the movement of the bearers of this tradition from Sichem to Jerusalem, via Shilo and Nob (this ‘Wanderung’ is also supposed by Hertzberg).
The episode of Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek can then be conceived as a theophany, analogous to those from Genesis Chapters 18 and 22. Melchizedek plays there the role of Angel of God, a role the Sun-god often plays in other religions. He gives Abraham the blessing of the Supreme God, whom he represents (as head of his army), and receives from Abraham the tithe he owes to God. In this case, Verses 18-20 of Gen 14 represent a fragment of a Canaanite ritual text, probably very old, which is dedicated to the sun-god Melchizedek. This one plays a dual role of God of Fertility and Warrior of the Supreme God. Perhaps

55. J. J. Schmitt, “Pre-israelite ...”, pp.106. Cf. also C. Mckay, “Salem ...”, pp.121-130; R. H. Smith, “Abraham ...”, pp.149-152; J. Gammie, “Loci ...”, pp.390-391; J. R. Kirkland, “The incident ...”, pp.8-11. Landesdorfer’s arguments are interesting, but outdated by more recent research: cf. S. Landesdorfer, “Das Priesterkônigtum ...”, pp.203-216. However, Hertzberg had underlined in 1928 the antiquity of the tradition on Melchizedek in Garizim and Sichem (cf. H.W. Hertzberg, “Die Melqisedeq-Traditionen ...”, pp.173). See also J. T. Milik, “Saint Thomas de Pardes” and Gen. 14, 17, Biblica, 42, 1961, pp.84, n. 2; M. E. Boismard, Aeon, near Salem (Jean, III, 23), RB, 80, 1973, pp.218-219. It should be noted that in Gen 23:18 it is said “Salem the city of Shechem”, Shechem being a name of a character, as indeed in Gen 34: 2; cf. J. L. Emerton, “The site of Salem ...”, pp.66.
56. Josephus, Antiq., IX, 14, 3. Cf. B. Z. Wacholder, “Pseudo-Eupolemus” two greek fragments on the life of Abraham, IWCA, 34, 1963, pp.107; L. N. White, The Delos synagogue revisited, НТВ., 80, 1987, pp.145; Ph. Bruneau, The “Israelites of Delos” and the Delian Jewry, BCH, 106, 1982, pp.466-506. See also J. G. Gammie, “Loci ...”, pp.390-393, and J. L. Emerton, “The Site of Salem ...”, pp.48. On the ‘Gilgal’, cf. E. Nielsen, Sichem. A Traditio-Historical Investigation, Copenhagen, 1959, pp. 295-305; C. A. Keller, Ùber einige alttestamentlicheHeiligtumlegenden, II, ZAW, 68, 1956, pp.85-87. On theophanies in the Bible, cf. J. Lindblom, Theophanies in Holy Places in Hebrew Religion, HUCA, 32, 1961, pp.91-106.

in this text he really blesses Abraham (or another character) and receives from him the part of God.
As for Psalm 110, it belongs to a category which lends itself to multiple interpretations because of its obscurity (cf. Psalms 53,82,87,120). As I already mentioned, most commentators locate it among the texts expressing the royal Israelite ideology. I believe that we can arrive at more satisfactory results if we start from the assumption that here, as in Gen 14, Melchizedek is a god.
The name shahar is one of the enigmas in this text. From the fact it is a divine name in Semitic mythology, it has been deduced that v.3 describes the divine birth of the king; this interpretation has been considered unacceptable by some commentators by reason of the fact that Shahar is a god not a goddess.
Shahar and Shalem are really gods, but the name ‘shahar’ also belongs to a goddess, which is common among the Semites; this even occurs in the Old Testament 57.
From the analysis of Psalms 2 and 110, N. Lemche drew the conclusion that the Hebrews’ king was ‘the son of Yahweh’, and that this indicates an Egyptian influence58. This hypothesis is weakened by lack of evidence in favor of divine character for the king, among Hebrews as among Canaanites. Evidence is also lacking for the use of Psalm 110 in favor of the descendants of the Divadic dynasty.
If Melchizedek is the Sun-god, then many of the puzzles of Psalm 110 find their solution. Birth on sacred mountains, from the folds of dawn, is surely the privilege of the sun. Del Medico translates the word ‘tal’ as ‘spearhead’. Taken figuratively, one

57. Isaiah 14: 12-13. This fragment reproduces the myth of Phaeton: cf. Mckay, “Helel and the Dawn Godess,” VT, 20, 1970, pp.451-464. Helel is said to be the name of the Sun-goddess associated with El. Mckay thinks it is ‘brilliance’ — that is, the outward expression of divine strength.
58. N. Lemche, Ancient Israel ..., pp.232-233; J. Coppens, “Les contributions ...”, pp.338-342; R. Kilián, Der “Tau” in Ps 110, 3 — ein Missverstándnis?, ZAW, 102, 1990, pp.417-419. Cf. also A. Caquot, “Le messianisme ...”, pp.239.

can really interpret the verse as the expression of a hieros gamos {mystical union} of the Most High God and the goddess Shahar59. On the other hand, ‘ro’sh’ of Verse 6 is undoubtedly the equivalent of ‘resha’, the enemy who the Most High God crushes mercilessly60.
Many researchers have found a Messianic orientation in Psalm 110. I see no justification for such an interpretation. It did not appear until later, when such an orientation became dominant61.
Psalm 110 is, without doubt, very old. For Genesis, Chapter 14, Melchizedek’s presence can be explained in the same way. It can be assumed the two texts are closely related, even though they were introduced in the Old Testament at different dates. I do not exclude the possibility these are fragments of a liturgical text for Sun-worship62. Without doubt, the goals of those who introduced them were quite different from their original destination. From the moment the names of the gods Zedek, Shahar,

59. H. Del Medico, “Melchisedech…”, pp.165-6. On the divine birth, cf. also Th. Booj, “Psalm CX…” p.399-400. To underscore the mystic character of the relationship, Th. Booij highlights, without wanting to, the divine origin of the one who is the subject of the Psalm.
60. JR Bartlett, The use of the word ro’sh as a title in the Old Testament, VT, 19, 1969, pp.1-10, omitted from his analysis not only Psalm 110, but also other passages of the Old Testament, such as e.g. Psalm 68:23 or Hab. 3-7. Puns are a hallmark of the Old Testament, and sometimes we find opposite meanings that complement each other.
61. R. Tournay, “Le psaume CX ...”, pp.6-13. This is also the opinion of G. R. Driver, Psalm CX; its form, meaning, and purpose, in Studies in the Bible, presented to H. Segal, ed. by J. M. Grintz, J. Liver, Jerusalem, 1964, pp.17-31, and G. Cooke, The Israelite King as son of God, ZAW, 73, 1961, pp.205. Similar formulas are found elsewhere in the Old Testament. E. Lipinski, “Studies on texts ...”, pp.41-57 demonstrated that one can give a messianic interpretation to other texts, as old as Gen 14: 18-20. See also W. F. Albright, Abram the Hebrew, BASOR, 1961, No. 163, pp.48-53; R. H. Smith, “Abram and Melchizedek ...”, pp.129-133.
62. Cf. J. W. Bowker, “Psalm CX ...”, pp.36; J. M. Baumgarten, “The Heavenly Tribunal ...”, pp.225-229; J. A. Emerton, “Some False Clues ...”, pp.29; H. H. Rowley, “Melchisedek and Sadok ...”, pp.467-469. The two texts were part of a liturgical text for the feast of Pentecost — thinks M. Gourgues, Christological Reading of Psalm CX and the Feast of Pentecost, RB, 83, 1979, pp.15, n. 43. J. Maier considers on the other hand that the two texts are independent: J. Maier, Vom Kultus zur Gnosis, Salzburg, 1964, pp.38. Finally, Schedl sees in Psalm 110 a “song of the Restoration of the time of Isaiah” which brings together various traditions; C. Schedl, Aus dem Tarp an Wege, ZAW, 73, 1961, pp.290-297.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:25 pm

Shalim were isolated from their specific religious ambiance, their meaning changed: Melchizedek became a king, his title of ‘cohen’ was interpreted in a new way.


At first glance, the intertestamental literature does not seem to be interested in Melchizedek. The legend of his miraculous birth, contained in the Slavic Enoch, is undoubtedly a late work, visibly influenced by Christianity63. Philo and Flavius Josephus speak of him; but for the first, it is rather a pretext for a dissertation on Judaism’s principles in the light of neo-Platonic philosophy (Horton considers that Philo’s Melchizedek text is a haggadic midrash). The Alexandrian writer was preoccupied with Theos Hypsistos {El Elyon: Most-High God}, and for him Melchizedek was Priest of the Supreme God. In Legum Allegoriae he is an abstract figure. As for Josephus, in his paraphrase of Gen 14 he speaks of Melchizedek as a Canaanite leader and “First Priest of the Most High God”64.
We find Melchizedek in the pseudo-Eupolemus. This author (known through Alexander Polyhistor and Eusebius of Caesarea) is considered a Samaritan. He places Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek on Mount Gerizim, sanctuary of the Samaritans. This association of Melchizedek with the Samaritans opens up interesting perspectives on the history of the sect and its ideology.

63. Cf. L. A. Vaillant, Le livre des secrets ď Hénoch, Paris, 1957.
64. “Horton”, pp.83-86; G. Bardy, Melchizedek in the Patristic Tradition, RB, 35, 1926, pp.497. Cf. also R. S. Eccles, The purpose of the Hellenistic patterns in the epistle of the Hebrews, in Religions in Antiquity ..., pp.212-213. In Philonian theology the Word is the high priest, head of the angels of God and mediator between the Creator and the creature — all the functions of the god Zedek; cf. A. Vivian, I movimenti che si oppongono al Tempio: il problema dal Sacerdozio di Melchisedeq, Enoch, 14, 1992, pp.103. B. Mazar qualifies the interpretation of Flavius Josephus as “surprising”; I believe that it was rather his kinship with the Hasmoneans that played the main role (cf. B. Mazar, Josephus Flavius and the archaeological excavations in Jerusalem, in Josephus, the Bible, and History, ed. by LH Feldman and G. Hota, Leiden, 1989, pp.326).
65. B. Z. Wacholder, “Pseudo-Eupolemus ...”, pp.83-113; W. Aptowitzer, “Melchizedek. Zu den Sagen der Agada,” MGWJ, 70, 1926, pp.97.

The reappearance of this character in a Qumran manuscript seemed surprising. But I believe it is necessary, precisely in the light of this reappearance, to appreciate again the presence of Melchizedek or similar figures in Biblical literature.
He is an Old Testament figure of particular interest in this aspect: this is the Angel of God.
He is a second-rate character, anonymous, messenger, interpreter and executor of the orders of the Most High God66. However, this Angel sometimes plays particularly important roles which deserve a more detailed analysis.
The Angel of God appears frequently in stories of the Patriarchal Cycle. His appearance is often accompanied by ‘solar’ phenomena. Thus, in Genesis 18:1, God and his angels visit Abraham “during the heat of the day”, that is to say when the force of the sun is at its maximum67. The account of Jacob’s struggle with the Angel emphasizes that “the sun was shining when he passed through Penuel” (Gen 32:32). Usually, this expression is translated as an indication of the weather (it was daylight, for example); but in truth it could mean that the sun was favorable to him. Penuel or Peniel means the ‘face of the divinity’.
Above, I have mentioned the presence of traces of solar worship in the Book of Joshua. After crossing the Jordan, Joshua meets ‘the chief of the armies of God’. This meeting takes place in Gilgal, obviously a place dedicated to the Sun-cult and so- called because of the cromlech {megalithic dolmen} that was there68.

66. Cf. a synthesis of the problem in J. Collins, Messianism in the Массаbean Period, in Judaisms and their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, ed. by J. Neusner a.o., Cambridge, 1987, pp.97-109. Cf. also E. Jacob, “Variations and contrasts in the figure of the Angel of God,” RHPhR, 68, 1988, pp.409-414.
67. Couldn’t this god who sets Sodom and Gomorrah on fire be Shamash-Nergal, another hypostasis of the solar god? This is what E. G. H. Kraeling asks, “The Early Cult ...”, pp.175, n. 3.
68. Cf. M. Vernes, Religious use of megalithic monuments by the ancient Hebrews, RA, 5th series, 6, 1928, pp.275-290. Gilgal is the subject of much research, but most of them deal with the geographical position of monuments without understanding their relationship to the cult of the Sun.

The same character appears in the Book of Daniel. He also bears the title of ‘Prince of Princes’ and, in addition to his military role, he is also Priest, officiating in the heavenly sanctuary and receiving offerings; finally, he reveals the future to the prophet. The army he commands is made up of angels; but often they are called ‘stars’ and angels are only the deities associated with these stars69.
This Prince of Princes, chief of the armies of heaven, is the sun. His resemblance to Melchizedek is striking70.
We find in Psalm 89:37-38 a character called “faithful witness who is in Heaven”, guarantor of David’s reign and posterity. E. T. Mullen thinks this witness, who is associated with the moon, can be identified with the sun. The two astral-gods were often taken as witnesses and guarantors71.
In apocryphal literature we find similar characters. In the Testament of Levi, it is the priest who is commissioned to perform divine judgment on earth (18:12). We saw in this character an allusion to kings of the Hasmonean dynasty72; but this dynasty is presented in this book in a negative light — and moreover these kings never had the role of Judge. In this text, the Patriarch himself is a priest, but he is also called the son of the Most High, “Light of Knowledge” and “Sun of Israel”. The priest’s rite of investiture includes an offering of bread and wine (as in Gen 14). The Patriarch is a priest forever, like Melchizedek in Psalm 110

69. Dan 8:11, 10:21, 12: 5-13. Cf. C. Bampfylde, “The prince of the host in the book of Daniel and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” JSJ, 14, 1986, pp.129-134. For the link between angels and stars, cf. Deut 4:19, 7:13; 2 Kings 23: 5; Jer 8: 2, but also Jug 5:20 and 1 Kings 22:19. This opinion is shared by J. J. Collins, “Apocalyptic eschatology and the transcendence of death,” CBQ, 36, 1974, pp.32-34; J. J. Collins, “The son of man and the saints of the most high in the book of Daniel,” JBL, 93, 1974, pp.57-58. See also J. Goldstein, “The persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV,” in Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies. Proceedings, v. 1, Jerusalem, 1977, pp.142, and A. Caquot, “La divinité ...”, pp.91.
70. Cf. M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.131; “Horton”, pp.127-130.
71. E. Th. Mullen, The divine wittness and the davidic royal grant; Ps 89: 37-38, JBL, 102, 1983, pp.307-318.
72. J. J. Petuchowski, “The controversial figure of Melchizedek,” HUCA, 20, 1957, pp.132-133; J. T. Milik, “Milkisedeq ...”, pp.123; D. M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand. Psalm 110 in Early Christianity, Nashville, 1973, pp.24-25.

and — like Melchizedek — he has the status of Priest in heaven and King on earth73.
Another figure who presents surprising analogies with Melchizedek is the nuntius of the Assumption of Moses (10:2); he is an angelic being, but also he is (or will become) a priest, and his first action consists in avenging Israel on its enemies; for this purpose he was raised to heaven74.
I believe one can find another allusion to a similar figure in the 3rd Sibylline Book (v.651-656). It speaks of a king “come from the sun”, who will stop the unjust war and carry out other missions entrusted to him by God. J.J. Collins sees in it an allusion to the Ptolemies, but — apart from his opinion on the Egyptian provenance of this book — he does not provide any arguments in favor of this hypothesis.
If there is no ‘Melchizedek’ character in the Books of Enoch (besides the late account of his birth), it tells of the revolt and the fall of the angels. In this way the author is arguing with idolatry, I think; this explains Melchizedek’s absence76.

73. G. Widengren, Royal ideology and the testaments of the twelve patriarchs, in Promise and Fulfillment, essays presented to S.H. Hooke ..., Edinburgh, 1983, pp.202-212. It was Milik who grasped the connection between the Testament of Levi and the text of 11QMelch; cf. J. T. Milik, “Milki-çedeq ...”, pp.123. It seems that a sect of Galilee, which produced the Testament of Levi and the Books of Enoch, exerted some influence on the Qumran sectarians; cf. W. E. Nickelsburg, Enoch, Levi, Peter, Recipients of revelation in Upper Galilee, JBL, 100, 1981, p.581; F. M. Strickert, Damascus Document VII, 10-20 and Qumran Messianic Expectation, RQ, 12, 1986, pp.336-337; cf. also P. Grelot, Note on the Aramaic Testament of Lévi, ЯВ, 63, 1956, pp.394-396.
74. Cf. J. Tromp, Taxo, the Messenger of the Lord, JSJ, 21, 1990, pp.200-209.
75. J. J. Collins, Sibylline oracles. A New translation and introduction, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1, ed. by J. II. Charlesworth, London, 1983, pp.356; J. J. Collins, The provenance of the third Sibylline Oracle, in Bulletin of the Institute of Jewish Studies, 2, 1974, pp.5-9. The image of the king who comes from the East, of sunrise, has been analyzed by G. Anioti, Gli oracoli sibillini e il motivo del re d'Asia nella lotta contro Roma, in Politica e religione nel primo scontro tra Borna e VOriente, a cura di Marta Sordi, Milano, 1982, pp.18-26. I mentioned this character in M. Bodinger, The Myth of Nero from the Apocalypse of St. John in the Babylonian Talmud, RHR, 206, 1989, pp.21-40.
76. Cf. p.D. Hanson, Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6:11, JBL, 96, 1972, pp.195-233; M. Barker, Some reflections on the Enoch Myth, JSOT, 15, 1980, pp.1-11. The influence of the henochical literature is however visible in the text of 11QMelch: cf. M. De Jonge and A. S. Van der Woude, 11QMelchizedek and the New Testament, NTS, 12, 1965-1966, p.304.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:26 pm

The ease with which solar mythology was integrated into the Hebrews’ religion (despite a struggle against idolatry) shows the depth of this cult’s tradition. At the same time, the important place occupied by notion of Justice and the righteous in Judaism aided this integration. In eschatological literature, from Qumran and in the Books of Enoch, Justice and Light were related77. In the literature of Judaism, we can also detect an orientation opposed to this integration. This is linked to priestly messianism, coming from Levitical circles. It is found in Malachi and in the Assumption of Moses78. Here, the messenger of God is a priest, an earthly personnage but charged with the functions of censor, judge and executor of the orders of the Most High God. Thus, while keeping the attributes of the solar god become the Angel of God, this character is stripped of his divinity and transformed into the priestly precursor of the Messiah. This was perhaps a preface to the action of the orthodox current in Judaism to eliminate the influence of this rather embarrassing figure79.
Therefore, it is a long-standing tradition which was successfully perpetuated. The existence of the 11QMelch text is not a something fortuitous.
However, after the discovery of the manuscript there was no unanimity in the understanding of the personnage. Without

77. J. M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...”, pp.225, n. 26.
78. Cf. B. V. Malchow, The messenger of the covenant in Mal 3: 1, JBL, 103, 1984, pp.252-255; J. Tromp, “Taxo ...”, pp.200-209.
79. Cf. H. L. Straek and p.Billerbeck, Kommentar ..., v. 4, pp 453-456, 484; M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.131-132; M. Simon, “Melchisédech ...”, pp.104-107. In the Apocrypha of Genesis Melchizedek is rejected on a secondary level and regarded as inferior to the Aaronides. As for the Book of Jubilees, its absence could be the result of the author’s anti-Hasmonean position; cf. A. Vivian, “I movimenti ...”, pp.105-106. So in Qumran there was also an “anti-Melchizedek” orientation. Rabbinical tradition identified Melchizedek with the Patriarch Shem, with the probable aim of eliminating his divine essence without causing him to disappear from tradition. See also V. Aptowitzer, “Melkisedek ...”, pp.93-100; S. E. Robinson, The apocryphal story of Melchizedek, JSJ, 18, 1987, pp.26-39; J. J. Petuchowski, “The Controversial ...”, pp.127-129. J. Heinemann, “Anti-Samaritan Polemics ...”, pp.67-68, thinks that the rabbinical polemic against Melchizedek was aimed at the Samaritans.

hesitation, A. S. van der Woude asserts that in this text Melchizedek is a celestial being whose image was inspired by Genesis 1480. On the other hand, Flusser thinks that the belief circulated among the members of the Qumran sect that Melchizedek was the Messiah-Priest they expected. He asserts that the title of elohim that the character carries does not imply attribution of a divine nature81. Carmignac deliberately minimizes the importance of Melchizedek in the Qumran manuscript. After having argued less on content than on textual analysis, he concludes there are no arguments in favor of Melchizedek’s divine nature, that the text does not have an eschatological character, and that the title given to manuscript is not justified82. However, more recently J. Carmignac has returned to his 1970 opinions, admitting (in the light of a more careful and complete reading of the text and other associated fragments) that Melchizedek appears to Qumran in the posture of “chief of angels faithful to God” 83.
There are many other opinions. J.M. Baumgarten thinks that in Qumran this character personifies the notion of ‘Zedek’ — Justice become a divine and messianic Being. He recognizes this notion was associated with the sun and light, but fails to elucidate

80. A. S. Van der Woude, Melchizedek als himmlische Erlôsengestalt in den neugefundenen eschatologischen Midraschim aus Qumran Hôhle XI, Oudtestamentlische Studien, 14, 1956, pp.372. There is a rich literature on this text: cf. “Horton”, pp.173-182, and also R. Meyer, “Melchisedek von Jerusalem une More-sedek von Qumran,” in Volume du Congrès, Geneva 1965 (Supplements to Vêtus Testamentům 15), Leiden, 1966, pp.228-239 ; J. T. Milik, “Milkiçedeq ...”, J. T. Milik, 4Q Visions of ‘Amrara and a quote from Origen, RB, 79, [1972], pp.77-97; J. A. Sanders, “The Old Testament in 11Q Melchizedek,” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University, 5, [1971], pp.373-382; A. Caquot, The Book of Jubilees, Melchisédeq et les tîmes, JJS, 33, [1982], pp.257-264. Other bibliographical indications at E. Puech, “Notes ...”.
81. D. Flusser, Melchizedek and the son of man, Christian News from Israel, 17, [1966], pp.23-25; D. Flusser, “Kobelski’s Melchizedek and Melchireša,” JQR, 73, 1983, pp.94; E. Puech, “Notes ...”, pp.511.
82. J. Carmignac, “Un document de Qumran sur Melchisedek,” RQ, 7, 1970, pp.343-358; Contra cf. M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.134.
83. Cf. its review of Kobelski’s book, in RQ, 11, 1983, pp.452-456. Kobelski himself strongly supports the eschatological character of the text (cf. “Kobelski”, pp.49-50, 59-61).

the divine character of Melchizedek84.
J. Milik takes a more radical position. He thinks that the two Spirits who rule the world in the conception of the Qumran sectarians — the Spirit of Light and the Prince of Darkness — are present in the 11QMelch text as in the associated text under the names of ‘Malkizedek’ and ‘Malkiresha’. As I pointed out above, in Milik’s mind the Melchizedek of the Qumranian manuscript is the same as that of Gen 14, therefore chief of the hosts of Heaven and Angel of Peace85.
Now is the time to stress that dualism was the very essence of Qumran’s ideology; it is here that this vision receives full expression and becomes the foundation of the lives of cult members. In 11QMelch the ‘two way’ vision comes to a head.
The two Spirits are personified: Melchizedek is the executor of divine justice, the one who is to destroy the Spirit of Evil and bring salvation to those who have remained faithful to God. The eschatological character of the text is obvious86.
Albeit unnamed, the two adversaries are also present in the War Scroll (in a passage which Duhaime considers to be interpolated, in the original version) and which fits into the militant dualistic vision of the Qumran sect87.
Also of Essene origin,88 another text in which we find the two characters is The Ascension of Isaiah, dominated by the

84. J. M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...“.
85. J. T. Milik, “Milki-çedeq ...”, pp.137-144; J. T. Milik, “4Q Visions ...” p. 86, 89; F. Garcia Martinez, “4Q Amram B, 1, 44; Melki-reša ’o Melkisédeq?”, RQ, 12, 1985, pp.111-114. Horton comes to the same conclusion, that the attribution of the title “elohim” to Melchizedek is proof that the cult members saw him as a superhuman being; cf. “Horton”, pp.76-77.
86. Carmignac makes a mistake when he maintains that the notion of the “last days” is absent; the text speaks explicitly of the “10th Jubilee”, the end of which corresponds to the “last days”.
87. J. Duhaime, The writing of 1QM XIII and the evolution of dualism at Qumran, RB, 84, 1977, pp.211-212, 218-227.
88. Cf. D. Flusser, The apocryphal book of Ascensio Isaiae and the Dead Sea sect, IEJ, 3, 1953, pp.40-47.

dualistic conception. The Spirit of Evil is named Belial, and Melki-ra is its agent of execution, performing missions opposite to those that Melchizedek had to accomplish in 11QMelch.
Milik believes the opposition between Melchizedek and the king of Sodom in Gen 14 is an image foreshadowing the conflict between the Princes of Light and Darkness; in this connection he refers to Isaiah (9:11), where Sodom identifies himself with rasha, Evil. It is astonishing this author did not grasp the symbolism of the names of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah89.
There are still some observations to be made regarding Melchizedek in the Qumran texts.
Emphasizing the high position he occupies, above all the other celestial figures mentioned, most commentators identify Melchizedek of 11QMelch with the Archangel Michael. I do not believe that this identification is justified. Nowhere is it explicitly stated. Michael appears only once, in the War Scroll; but here — contrary to Milik and Carmignac’s opinion — it is not certain he is identified with the Prince of Light. The same must be said for Daniel90. The role of judge and savior that Melchizedek plays in 11QMelch’s text is not that of Archangel Michael.
This issue is much more important than you might think at first glance. Carmignac believes that it is not Melchizedek who

89. J. T. Milik, “Milki-çedeq ...”, pp.137. See on the other hand J. A. Loader, A Tale ..., pp.53, which supports Jewish exegesis in this regard.
90. Ibid., Pp. 142-143; J. T. Milik, “4Q Visions ...”, pp.94; A. S. Van der Woude, “Melchisedek ...”, pp.370-371 (who reconsidered his opinion, judging it insufficiently argued); M. De Jonge and A. S. Van der Woude, “11QMelchisedek and the New Testament,” NTS, 12, 1955-1956, pp.385; C. Bampfylde, “The prince ...”, pp.130-133; “Kobelski”, pp.29, 36, 71-72. M. C. Astour believes that Melchizedek performs in 11QMelch the functions of the Spirit of Light. He is not the same as Michael. The latter is, in the War Scroll, one of the four archangels (M. C. Astour, art. “Melchizedek“ ..., pp.685). The identity between Melchizedek and Michael is in fact the creation of the Jewish mystics of the Middle Ages; cf. J. A. Fitzmyer, “Further light on Melchizedek from Qumran Cave 11,” JBL, 80, 1957, pp.32; J. J. Collins, “The son of man ...”, pp.65. See also on this subject J. Duhaime, “Dualistic reworking in the scrolls from Qumran,” CBQ, 49, 1987, pp.48, n. 76.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:28 pm

is identified with Michael: simply, this one receives the name of ‘Melchizedek’ (which amounts to saying that there is no link between the two characters, of whom the Prince of Light is Michael, and not Melchizedek91).
Carmignac’s error — and Kobelski’s — is to have sought the Priest Melchizedek in Qumran, whereas he is there a Warrior and Judge.
On the other hand, Milik believes that Melchizedek (who in the text 4Q Visions of Amram — in his opinion, pre-Essenian — occupies a subordinate position) passes through a certain evolution and reaches in 11QMelch the position of hypostasis of God himself. This opinion is shared by other authors92.
I believe it hazardous: in this last text Melchizedek bears the title of Elohim, but this is given to all divine beings, except God (who remains above all). If the ‘Angel of God’ is sometimes confused with ‘God’ in the Old Testament, it is only in his capacity as messenger, never as executor of divine justice93. Is the Qumranian Melchizedek the Heavenly High Priest? It is true we speak of the “lot of Melchizedek” in 11QMelch, and Milik thinks this lot is formed by Aaronic priests. We can no more and neither exclude the hypothesis he is the Messiah-Priest94. But in 11QMelch he is above all the Judge; his priesthood remains in the shadows95.

91. Cf. RQ, 11, 1983, pp.454-455. This is also the opinion of "Kobelski", pp.58, n. 29. Carmignac remained firm in his position, denying the eschatological character of 11QMelch’s text. He did not seem to see how artificial these definitions and nuances between literary genres are when it comes to ancient religious literature.
92. Cf. J. A. Sanders, ‘Dissenting deities and Phil. 2: 2-11,” JBL, 88, 1969, pp.290; “Horton”, pp.75-80; M.P. Millar, “The function of Isa 61: 1-2 11QMelchizedek,” JBL, 88, 1969, pp.467-469; the latter thinks that in Verse 9 of the text the name ‘Melchizedek’ has been substituted for that of God.
93. Cf. E. R. Goodenough, “The Bosporus Inscriptions to the Most High God,” JQR, 47, 1956-1957, pp.222-228.
94. J. T. Milik, “Milki-sedeq ...”, pp.124-125; A. S. Van der Woude, “Melchisedek ...”, pp.372-373.
95. M. de Jonge and A. S. Van der Woude, “Melchisedek ...”, p.306. On the possible association of military and priestly functions in Melchizedek, cf. G. Newsom, Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice, Atlanta, [1985], p.33.

The absence of any allusion to texts of the Old Testament in 11QMelch96 was emphasized. Perhaps members of the sect knew other traditions; but perhaps, simply, the fragmentary state of the manuscript prevents us from finding these references.
In conclusion, 11QMelch introduces us to one of the currents of Essenism characterized by the importance it attributes to a character already known from the Old Testament, but in the eschatological atmosphere of the movement. Here is a divine being, leader of the armies of God, Prince of Light, executor of divine justice. He opposes the Spirit of Evil, called Beliar or Melki-resha. In the last instance, he is the forerunner of the Messiah, the judge who prepares the reign of justice.
We have underscored the analogy, probably not accidental, between the names Melchizedek and Moreh Zedek {arbiter, teacher, judge etc.}97. This is not surprising. The notion of ‘Zedek’, associated with light, with truth, with knowledge, with life, with salvation, recurs constantly in the texts of Qumran — as later in Christian literature — and is always opposed to ‘Resha’, that is to say to Evil, to darkness, to injustice. Thus, Melchizedek is at the center of Qumran’s dualistic doctrine, both cosmic and ethical98.
After the discovery of 11QMelch, the character’s presence in the Epistle to the Hebrews calls for a new analysis. Before this discovery, Y.Yadin and C. Spicq already argued the existence of points of contact between the ideology of Hebrews and ideas of Qumranian literature. They are convinced that Hebrews was addressed to Essenes (Christianized or not) and that its purpose was to

96. Cf. L.D. Hurst, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Cambridge, [1990], p.59.
97. E. Puech, “Notes ...”, p.509.
98. J. T. Milik, “4Q Visions ...”, pp.89-90. J. Gammie underlines the link between the two aspects of dualism, the ethical aspect and the cosmic aspect: cf. J. G. Gammie, spatial and ethical dualism in Jewish wisdom and apocalyptic literature, JBL, 93, 1974, pp.356-383.

demonstrate the superiority of Jesus Christ, using — among other things — the Melchizedek fable99. However, a few writers have held different views. Thus, Fitzmyer thinks the Melchizedek tradition present in Hebrews is different from that of Qumran; Horton believes the Melchizedek of Hebrews is not a divine being and therefore there is no need to link the two texts100.
The answer is simple, I believe: why would the author of Hebrews have introduced precisely this character, rather than another? His presence is not fortuitous, it is part of an obvious polemical orientation. We should not be misled by the fact that the Melchizedek of Hebrews appears different from that of the Qumran text. It is precisely these differences which reveal to us the author's purposes. Taking a figure familiar to its readers and giving it another interpretation is a frequent process in Biblical literature. Horton draws attention to the fact that Melchizedek is absent from the chapter of the Epistle dedicated to angels. But we have seen that, in 11QMelch, he is superior to the angels, presiding over their assembly. Were he an angel like others, the author would probably not have chosen him to demonstrate the superiority of Christ.
For Horton, according to the same the formula aphômoiômenos toi hyoiôi tou Theou (Hebrews 7:3: “on the contrary (therein) made entirely like unto the Son of God”) presupposes a subordination. I believe that this — evident in 11QMelch —formula rather establishes the messianic character of this personnage. Hebrews’ author does not explicitly speak of Melchizedek’s

99. Y. Yadin, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the epistle to the Hebrews,” SH, 4, 1958, pp. 36-55; C. Spicq, “The Epistle to the Hebrews, Apollos, John the Baptist, the Hellenists and Qumran,” RQ, 1, 1959, p.384. Yadin later emphasized the importance of the 11QMelch manuscript for his hypothesis; cf. Y. Yadin, A note on Melchizedek and Qumran, IEJ, 15, 1965, pp. 152-154. See also M. Delcor, “Melchizedek ...”, pp.125-187; R. Williamson, Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews, Leiden, 1970, pp. 434-449; D. Hay, Glory ..., p. 38, according to whom the author of the epistle used material which he knew to be known and accepted by his readers. The presence of Melchiizedeq in the epistle is rather ignored by R. Eccles, The purpose of the hellenistic patterns in the epistle to the Hebrews, in Religions in Antiquity ..., pp. 212-214.
100. Cf. J. A. Fitzmyer, “Further Light ...”, pp. 31; “Horton”, pp. 84-86.

divine character, but 7:3 suggests that. We can deduce that this author knew the Qumranian tradition, perhaps even the primitive source of the tradition on Melchizedek, but avoided pronouncing on such a delicate question in the given conjuncture101.
The presence of Melchizedek was therefore imposed by a need to demonstrate the divinity of Jesus Christ and his superiority over Aaronic priests. It seems the author of the Gospel of John tried to do the same, with less success. In the Epistle, the ‘Melchizedekan’trait of the Fighting Angel is attributed to the Messiah. At the same time, Melchizedek appears as a prototype of Christ in his capacity as ‘Son of God’ that we rediscover in the Qumran text102. And I think I should point out that in the Old Testament the title ‘Son of God’ is explicitly attributed only to the sun!
It cannot be established with certainty who were the recipients of Epistle to the Hebrews, but it is likely they attached special importance to Melchizedek. In the light of the data offered to us by the Gnostic manuscripts and Patristic literature, the hypothesis that the Epistle was addressed to Qumran sectarians (who had become Christians, but having retained their faith in the eschatological role of Melchizedek) imposes here, I believe, with great probability. By calling on this tradition to uplift Christ, the

101. Cf. also L. D. Hurst, The Epistle ..., pp.54, 56. In the Epistle to the Hebrews Melchizedek fulfills a mission of legitimizing Christ. This mission has similarities with the role it plays in the Old Testament — this is what J. Swetnam thinks, in his review of C. Gianotto’s book, Melchisedek e la sua tipologia (Brescia, 1984), Biblica, 67, [1986], pp.433-437. See also the review by S.P. Kealy, CBQ, 48, [1986], p.748.
102. Cf. M. de Jonge and A.S. Van der Woude, “1111QMelchisedek ...”, pp.312-318, 322-323, as well as J. Emerton, “Melchižedek and the gods: fresh evidence for the Jewish background of John X 32-36,” JTS, 17, 1968, pp.339-341. The influence of 11QMelch’s text on the writing of the Gospel of Saint Luke has been underlined by D.R. Schwarz, “On Quirinus, John the Baptist, the Benedictus, Melchizedek, Qumran and Ephesus,” RQ, 12, 1988, pp.641 -644. Schwarz thinks that the end of the Benedictus (Luke 1:76-79) is an allusion to the identity between St. John the Baptist and Melchizedek. In these verses Jesus is nicknamed “the Sun”. The importance of 11QMelch to the development of messianism is beyond the scope of this article. See P. Sacchi, “Outline of the development of Jewish messianism in the light of the Qumranian text 11QMelch,” ZAW, 100, 1988, suppl. p.202-214.

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Re: Martin Bodinger's “L'énigme de Melkisédeq” 1994 essay, translated.

Post by billd89 » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:30 pm

Epistle’s author made him another hypostasis of the ancient divinity, the embodiment of mankind’s continuing hope in righteousness and salvation.
The author of the Epistle also used the controversy within Judaism against the Melchizedek tradition; he avoided speaking of him as of a divine being, yet without reducing his spiritual dimension, as Orthodox Judaism did, and discreetly emphasizing his superiority over Abraham — therefore over the priests who were descendants of the latter103.
The tradition of a messianic Melchizedek continued beyond Orthodox Christianity, which is seen in Gnostic and Patristic literature. This is the place to talk about M. Friedlaender. In his works he has presented bold but very interesting hypotheses on the role of the character of Melchizedek104. If in 1926 Bardy(?) could claim of these hypotheses that they are not supported by any evidence and are “adventurous” — today, after the discoveries of Qumran and Nag Hammadi, the proofs exist. M. Friedlaender thought that the sect of “Melchizedekians” referred to in Patristic literature had emerged from Essenism . This sect saw in Melchizedek a celestial force, a divine priest, intermediary and savior of the Heavenly beings, superior to Christ and equal to God.

103. A passage in the Gospels (Matthew 22:41, Mark 12:33-37, Luke 20:41-44) is supposed to be an allusion to Psalm 110; but it is impossible to establish whether this text accords with rabbinical tradition. Cf. M. Simon, “Melchisédech dans la polémique entre juifs et chrétiens et dans la légende,” in Recherches ďhistoire judéo-chrétienne, Paris, [1962], pp.108; G. J. Goldstein, “A rabbinic reaction to the messianic doctrine of the scrolls?,” JBL, 90, [1971], pp.330-332; H. L. Straek and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar ..., vol. 4, pp.437-438. T. Lim believes that 11QMelch serves as a link between Ban 9:25 (which announces the coming of the Messiah) and Luke 4, where Jesus proclaims the coming of Christ. Cf. Th. H. Lim, 11QMelch, Luke 4 and the Dying Messiah, JJS, 4, [1992], pp.92.
104. Cf. M. Friedlaender, “La secte de Melchisédec et l’épître aux Hébreux,” REJ, 5, [1882], pp.1-26, 188-198; 6, 1883, pp.187-189; M. Friedlaender, Synagoge und Kirche in ihren Anfângen, Berlin, [1908], pp.84-89; M. Friedlaender, “The ‘Pauline’ Emancipation from the Law, a Product of the pre-Christian Jewish Diaspora,” JQR, 14, [1902], pp.288-297. Horton, who nevertheless pays attention to the ‘heretical’ tradition, did not even mention this author (cf. “Horton”, pp.90-101, 106-107).

Its description is very close to what can be read in the Gnostic books105, where Melchizedek, High Priest of the Most High God, is also the divine warrior identified with the Archistrategos Messiah. Pearson emphasizes the presence of details of an apocalyptic nature, Jewish and Christian, and considers that the Gnostic treatise on Melchizedek is a Judeo-Christian work106.
The legend of Melchizedek was amplified in medieval Christian literature107. In this regard, two important things must be underscored: a) this legend, though elaborated in Christian circles, has Jewish sources; b) the writers did not seek to use these sources as in Epistle to the Hebrews; rather, they sought to minimize the character, to reduce him to earthly dimensions, ultimately making him a sort of Caliban tamed by the Patriarch Abraham. S.E. Robinson thinks (correctly, I believe) that what dictated this version was the development of the ‘Melchizedekian’ heresy.

I have followed the presence and evolution of the Melchizedek character in Jewish and Christian religious literature in light of the hypothesis that this character was originally a solar god worshiped in Canaan under the name Zedek. This hypothesis offers a possibility of resolving in a more satisfactory manner such difficulties appearing in the interpretation of Old and New Testament texts; it allows us to understand why Melchizedek occupies such a prominent place in the Epistle to the of Hebrews.

105. Cf. G.Bardy, “Melchisédech dans la tradition patristique,” RB, 35, 1926, pp.496-509; 36; [1927], pp.25-45; B.A. Pearson, “Introduction to XV, 1: Melchizedek,” in Nag Hammadi Studies, XV. Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X, Leiden, [1981], pp.19-40; “Horton”, pp.87-113, 131-151; D.M. Hay, Glory ..., pp.29-33.
106. B.A. Pearson, “Introduction ...”, pp.29-34. Pearson considered the source of the text in question is Jewish: cf. B.A. Pearson, “The figure of Melchizedek in the first tractate of the unpublished Coptic-Gnostic Codex IX from Nag-Hammadi,” in Proceedings of the Xllth International Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Leiden, [1975], pp.200-208. See also S.E. Robinson, “The Apocryphal Story ...”, pp.26-39.
107. Cf. the works of Horton, Delcor, M. Simon, G. Bardy, S. E. Robinson cited above.

In the context of Essene dualism, this personnage — Prince of Light and Spirit of Justice, of Good and Truth — opposed to the Prince of Darkness, Spirit of Evil (who also appears in the Old Testament and Qumran texts under the names of “resha”, “ro’sh” or “Milkiresha”) — becomes again a divine being, who continues his function as chief of the Heavenly armies and fulfills in the future a mission of divine judge and executor. This development is part of the general religious vision of the ancient world, which sees the Sun as the representative of the Justice of God108.

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108. Cf. J.M. Baumgarten, “The heavenly tribunal ...”, pp.225-229; R.A. Rosenberg, “The god Zedek ...”. Light was the symbol of justice in Gnostic literature too, and Melchizedek was associated with it: cf. “Horton”, pp.143-145.
* I would like to thank Ms. Hedwige Rouillard-Bonraisin (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) and M. Bernard Delavault (Institut d'Etudes sémitiques, Collège de France) for their valuable remarks, from which I took the greatest advantage.


AJSLL American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures.
ANRW Aufslieg und Niedergang der Rômischen Welt.
BASOR Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
BGH Bulletin de Correspondance hellénique.
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
CJCR Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, ed. by J. Neusner, 4 vol., Leiden, 1975.
HTR Harvard Theological Review.
HUCA Hebrew Union College Annual.
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal.
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature.
JJS Journal of Jewish Studies.
JNES Journal for the Near Eastern Studies.
JPOS Journal of the Palestinian Oriental Society.
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review.
JSJ Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period.
JSOR Journal of the Society for Oriental Research.
JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament.
JTS Journal of Theological Studies.
NTS New Testament Studies.
PEQ Palestine Exploration Quarterly.
RA Revue archéologique.
RB Revue biblique.
REJ Revue des Eludes juives.
RHPhR Revue ď histoire et de philosophie religieuses.
RHR Revue de Vhisioire des religions.
RQ Revue de Qumran.
SBT Studia Biblica et Theologica.
SDB Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible.
SH Scripta Hierosolymitana.
VDI Vestnik Drevnej Istorii.
VT Velus Testamentům.
Z AW Zeitschrift fur Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.

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