What does Hebrews 7:2 mean?
ESV: and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.
NIV: and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means 'king of righteousness'; then also, 'king of Salem' means 'king of peace.'
NASB: to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.
CSB: and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means king of righteousness, then also, king of Salem, meaning king of peace.
NLT: Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means 'king of justice,' and king of Salem means 'king of peace.'
KJV: To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
Verse Commentary:
In Genesis chapter 14, Abraham returns from rescuing his war-captive nephew, Lot. Abraham is met by both the king of Sodom and a figure named Melchizedek (Genesis 14:14–24). At this meeting, Melchizedek gives Abraham a blessing along with bread and wine, and Abraham gives Melchizedek a tithe. The king of Sodom, on the other hand, gets a flat refusal from Abraham, who wants nothing to do with him, his wealth, or his people.

The point of this passage is showing that Melchizedek was a figure greater even than Abraham. This factors into later explanations of the priesthood, and how Jesus Christ fulfills that role with perfection. The writer points out that Melchizedek's name literally means king of righteousness. He also points out that the name of the city where Melchizedek rules is called Salem, which literally means peace. This makes the man whom Abraham honored the king of righteousness, the king of peace, and the priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18). When Abraham gives this king-priest a tithe, it is not only a sign of respect, but a sign of submission. As the following verses point out, blessings naturally come from the superior to the inferior, and tithes are naturally given from the lesser to the greater.
Verse Context:
Hebrews 7:1–10 introduces the author's central argument about the superiority of Jesus Christ. Melchizedek, a figure from the story of Abraham in the Old Testament, is the main evidence used. In this segment, the author shows how Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, since Abraham paid him tithes. This has implications for the priesthood of Melchizedek, as well as the priesthood of the Old Testament. Next, the author will show how the priesthood of Jesus, symbolized by Melchizedek, is superior to that of the Levitical law.
Chapter Summary:
When Abraham met with Melchizedek in the Old Testament, he honored him with tithes. This shows that Abraham recognized Melchizedek's superiority. Since the Old Covenant was flawed—based on limited priests and limited sacrifices—it is inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedek, which is unending. Jesus Christ fulfills God's promise to establish a priest ''forever'' in a way which perfectly meets our needs.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 5 and 6 detoured from the main theme in order to present a warning about faithlessness and apostasy. Chapter 7 returns to the topic of Melchizedek, who represents a mysterious but important moment in Old Testament history. Here, the author will show how Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, and that Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. This leads into the next chapters, which show how Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills our salvation in ways which the Old Covenant cannot.
Book Summary:
The book of Hebrews is meant to challenge, encourage, and empower Christian believers. According to this letter, Jesus Christ is superior to all other prophets and all other claims to truth. Since God has given us Christ, we ought to listen to what He says and not move backwards. The consequences of ignoring God are dire. Hebrews is important for drawing on many portions of the Old Testament in making a case that Christ is the ultimate and perfect expression of God's plan for mankind. This book presents some tough ideas about the Christian faith, a fact the author makes specific note of.
Accessed 4/22/2024 2:36:50 PM
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