And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of Heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace. And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor. Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need. And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him (Genesis 7:20–22). In 1844, the church-owned newspaper identified Shem as Melchizedek.1 Joseph Smith explained that Melchizedek was not an earthly king, nor did he reign over a population.2 Melchizedek is not a name but a title. It is a compound of two words. The first is Malki (מַלְכִּי), meaning “king,” and Zadok (צֶדֶֿק), meaning “righteous;” Malki Tzedek or Malki Zedek (מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶֿק) can mean “righteous king” or “king of righteousness.”3 As a comparison, the Dead Sea Scrolls portray their “Teacher of Righteousness” as Moreh Zedek. Joseph Smith asked, “What was the power of Melchisedick[?] twas not P. of Aaron &c. [but it was the power of] a king & a priest to the most high god. A perfect law of Theocracy holding keys of power & blessings. Stood as God to give laws to people. Administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.”4 Melchizedek was a king, and he was a high priest of the Most High God after the Order of the Son of God, i.e., a king and a priest. It is both a name-title and a new name given to Shem. Christ is the Great King and the Great High Priest. The name Melchizedek is really a name-title belonging to Christ. It was given to Shem because he was a worthy disciple of the Lord. The name-title became the designation of Priesthood. It was used as a substitute for the frequent repetition of the “Son of God.”5 The great priest Melchizedek is admired so much that the Priesthood was renamed after him because he was the last one to accomplish Zion. But when one examines carefully why Melchizedek qualified to obtain the Priesthood, one discovers it was because he “by faith” quenched the violence of fire, he subdued lions, by faith he achieved all these things — not by priesthood. By faith.6 Melchizedek’s city of peace came because those who heard him repented. They were taken into Heaven by their repentance. They, like Enoch’s city, will return in the last days. The wicked will not survive their return. The next time there is a place where people of righteousness are taught and gathered, it will no longer be taken up to Heaven. Instead, it will allow Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s people to return. A holy city must be prepared to welcome that return.7See also SALEM.
1 Preserving the Restoration, 121, 121n289, Times and Seasons, 5:746, Dec. 15, 1844.
2 Preserving the Restoration, 121, 121n289, Times and Seasons, 5:746, Dec. 15, 246.
3 Strong’s Concordance, H4442. The Greek form is Μελχισεδέκ, G3198.
5 Preserving the Restoration, 164–165. See also “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 6,10, paper.
6 “The Doctrine of Christ,” Sept. 11, 2016, 2, transcript of talk, Q&A.
7 Preserving the Restoration, 129.