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Hebrews 7:4

ESV See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!
NIV Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
NASB Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.
CSB Now consider how great this man was: even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the plunder to him.
NLT Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle.
KJV Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

What does Hebrews 7:4 mean?

This verse reiterates the main point of verses 1 through 10. Abraham recognized that Melchizedek was greater, as shown by Abraham's giving Melchizedek a tithe. As great as Abraham was, and as uniquely positioned as he was by God, he knew that this king-priest (Genesis 14:18) was someone he was obligated to submissively honor. This begins a somewhat complex point made over the next few verses.

Since the Levitical priesthood was made up of limited, mortal men, it is also limited and imperfect in its ability. A priesthood of limited people is inferior to an unending priesthood of perfection: this is what Abraham's encounter with Melchizedek symbolizes here. Later, the author will point out how, in a manner of speaking, Levi and all of the Old Testament priests paid a tithe to Melchizedek, as they were "still in the loins" of Abraham, at the time (Hebrews 7:10). Melchizedek not only predated the Aaronic priesthood, he was not part of that lineage. And yet, Abraham honored him.
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