The king of Salem and priest of God Most High (El Elyon; see Names of God) who met Abram when the latter was returning victorious from battle. When Melchizedek met the patriarch, he gave Abram bread and wine, and he blessed him by God Most High. Abram in turn gave the priest a tenth of the spoils (Gen. 14.17–20).

Later tradition identified Salem with Jerusalem (Ps. 76.2), the city that King David conquered and transformed into his capital. Apparently David tried to unite royal and sacerdotal power by appropriating the order of Melchizedek, the king‐priest (Ps. 110.4).

The author of the letter to the Hebrews, citing Psalm 110.4, argues that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5.6, 10; 6.20; 7.17). The fact that Abraham paid him tithes shows how great Melchizedek was (Heb. 7.4). The fact that Melchizedek blessed Abraham establishes Melchizedek's superiority, for the greater always blesses the inferior (Heb. 7.7). Jesus, being in the same order, is therefore greater than Abraham, too.

One of the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QMelch) portrays Melchizedek as a heavenly being who will bring salvation (in fulfillment of Isa. 52.7–10 and 61.1–3) and judgment (in fulfillment of Pss. 7.7–8; 82.1–2) at the conclusion of the final jubilee (Lev. 25).

In gnostic literature, Melchizedek is variously represented as the one who brings the baptismal waters and as one who gathers and emits light. One of the Nag Hammadi documents describes him as a prominent heavenly priest and warrior figure who, in being baptized, offered himself in sacrifice, in a way reminiscent of Jesus.

In the Slavonic version of 2 Enoch, Melchizedek's old and sterile mother conceived him miraculously, apart from sexual intercourse. He was taken to paradise, where he was to be the head of all future priests. The text speaks of the last generation when a new Melchizedek will arise; greater than all his predecessors, he will work miracles and rule as king and priest.

William B. Nelson, Jr.