The story of this ancient king-priest sits there, like a biblical bombshell, not exploding till 2000 years later.
No doubt, Abram was exhausted. He had been up all day when he heard the news of his nephew’s family being stolen away by the four-army confederacy from the north. Arming his private militia of 318 men, they traveled 150 miles, probably for several days, and engaged the enemy before dawn. Then we read that they chased these soldiers further until they were north of Damascus, Syria! Now they have returned to Canaan, and Abram has arrived just outside the soon-to-be-famous Salem, renamed Jerusalem, the city of peace. There, in “the king’s dale” (valley), he meets a remarkable character, Melchizedek by name. He is a Gentile king, but also functioning as a priest, not of some Canaanite deity, but surprisingly was a “priest of God Most High” (v 18). This man will appear and then disappear from the page of history in a few verses, but is destined to show up in the New Testament as a prototype of the Lord Jesus Christ. No Jewish king could picture the dual roles of Christ as both a king and a priest, because in Israel God had established what we now call “the separation of church and state.” Israel’s kings came from the tribe of Judah, while her high priests came from the tribe of Levi. The name “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness,” and because he was ruler of Salem, which means “peace,” he is also described as “King of Peace.” Add to that the fact that, being a Gentile, his genealogy would not be included in the Bible. Thus the New Testament writer adds that his portrait is cropped so he appears to be “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” In this way he is “made like the Son of God” (Heb 7:3). Interesting character! I wonder what happens next?