Philo – On Melchizedek

Melchizedek Blesses Abram - The Bible and its Story (1909)

Melchizedek Blesses Abram - The Bible and its Story (1909)

Abram (Abraham) and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18–20)

[18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
[19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
[20] And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Philo, Allegorical Interpretation (Legum Allegoriarum) 3.7982

(79) Moreover, God made Melchisedek, the king of peace, that is of Salem, for that is the interpretation of this name, “his own high priest” [Gen 14:18], without having previously mentioned any particular action of his, but merely because he had made him a king, and a lover of peace, and especially worthy of his priesthood. For he is called a just king, and a king is the opposite of a tyrant, because the one is the interpreter of law, and the other of lawlessness.

(80) Therefore the tyrannical mind imposes violent and mischievous commands on both soul and body, and such as have a tendency to cause violent suffering, being commands to act according to vice, and to indulge the passions with enjoyment. But the other, the kingly mind, in the first place, does not command, but rather persuades, since it gives recommendations of such a character, that if guided by them, life, like a vessel, will enjoy a fair voyage through life, being directed in its course by a good governor and pilot; and this good pilot is right reason.

(81) We may therefore call the tyrannical mind the ruler of war, and the kingly mind the guide to peace, that is Salem. And this kingly mind shall bring forth food full of cheerfulness and joy; for “he brought forth bread and wine,” which the Ammonites and Moabites were not willing to give to the beholder, that is Israel; by reason of such unwillingness they are shut out from the companionship and assembly of God. For the Ammonites being they who are sprung from the outward sense of the mother, and the Moabites, who originate in the mind of the father, are two different dispositions, which look upon the mind and the outward sense as the efficient causes of all existing things, but take no notice of God. Therefore “they shall not come,” says Moses, “into the assembly of the Lord, because they did not come to meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt” [Deut 23:4], that is, out of the passions.

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

Source: Yonge, Charles Duke.  The Works of Philo. Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. David M. Scholer, editor. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 0943575931.

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