Yeshua’s Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood Surpasses the Levitical ~ Part 1b

Messianic Jews 7:1-10
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we began a new mini-series on Yeshua’s Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood Surpasses the Levitical. We’re exploring Messianic Jews 7:1-10 on The Priority of the Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood.  We covered the first three verses in the last post and will examine the final seven verses in this passage.

The Priority of the Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood

1 This Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem, a cohen of God Ha‘Elyon, met Avraham on his way back from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; 2 also Avraham gave him a tenth of everything. Now first of all, by translation of his name, he is “king of righteousness”; and then he is also king of Shalem, which means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father, mother, ancestry, birth or death; rather, like the Son of God, he continues as a cohen for all time. 4 Just think how great he was! Even the Patriarch Avraham gave him a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 Now the descendants of Levi who became cohanim have a commandment in the Torah to take a tenth of the income of the people, that is, from their own brothers, despite the fact that they too are descended from Avraham. 6 But Malki-Tzedek, even though he was not descended from Levi, took a tenth from Avraham. Also, he blessed Avraham, the man who received God’s promises; 7 and it is beyond all dispute that the one who blesses has higher status than the one who receives the blessing. 8 Moreover, in the case of the cohanim, the tenth is received by men who die; while in the case of Malki-Tzedek, it is received by someone who is testified to be still alive. 9 One might go even further and say that Levi, who himself receives tenths, paid a tenth through Avraham; 10 inasmuch as he was still in his ancestor Avraham’s body when Malki-Tzedek met him.” ~ Hebrews 7:1-10 (CJB)

These last seven verses show five ways in which Malki-Tzedek is great. [1]

1.  He took a tithe of the spoils of battle from Avraham, even though:

a. Avraham was the Patriarch, the father of all the Jews and thus the greatest of them;

b. Malki-Tzedek had no family connection with Avraham, whereas the Levitical priests receive tithes from their own brothers, from whom support is more naturally to be expected than from non-relatives; and

c. Malki-Tzedek was not explicitly entitled to collect tithes from anyone, whereas the Levitical cohanim have a commandment in the Torah to take a tenth of the income of the people. The comparison of the Levitical priests with Malki-Tzedek leads later to their similarity with Yeshua.

2.  Malki-Tzedek blessed Avraham, which implies that Malki-Tzedek was greater than Avraham.

3. The Levitical priests receive tithes even though mortal, whereas Malki-Tzedek is testified to be still alive, that is, the text of the Tanakh does not tell us that he died.

4. An ordering of greatness is set forth as follows: Greatest, Malki-Tzedek, who received a tenth from Avraham; second greatest, Avraham, who paid it; third, Levi, who, even though he himself receives tenths, paid a tenth through Avraham, inasmuch as he was still in his ancestor Avraham’s body when Malki-Tzedek met him; fourth, Levi’s descendants, the cohanim, who are the ones who actually receive tenths, rather than Levi; and least, the people of Israel, who pay them.

5. The Jewish people were given the Torah in connection with the system of cohanim derived from L’vi. But this system was not the final one, nor was it possible through it to reach the goal of being eternally in God’s presence; this will be demonstrated in the next four chapters. This fact allows the possibility of and, more than that, shows the need for, another, different kind of cohen, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek, a cohen who by implication is greater than the greatest of the Levitical high priests, Aharon.

In my next post, we’ll continue in our mini-series on Yeshua’s Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood Surpasses the Levitical Part ~ Part 2. We’ll explore Messianic Jews 7:11-19 on the Transitory Cohenhood of Aaron vs. the Eternal Cohenhood of Yeshua.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

Yeshua Is God’s Appointed High Cohen

Messianic Jews 5:1-10
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we examined Messianic Jews 4:14-16 ~ Yeshua Is the Way to approach God. In this post, together we learn that Yeshua Is God’s Appointed High Cohen in Messianic Jews 5:1-10.

1 For every cohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray since he too is subject to weakness. 3 Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was. 5 So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become cohen gadol; rather, it was the One who said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6 Also, as He says in another place, “You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.” 7 During Yeshua’s life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears, to the One who had the power to deliver Him from death; and He was heard because of His godliness. 8 Even though He was the Son, He learned obedience through His sufferings. 9 And after He had been brought to the goal, He became the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey Him, 10 since He had been proclaimed by God as a cohen gadol to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.”  ~ Hebrews 5:1-10 (CJB)

The qualifications for the office of cohen gadol within the framework of the Levitical system of cohanim include the ability to sympathize with the people and divine appointment (verses 1-4). Yeshua meets these requirements (verses 5-10). The Levitical cohanim could empathize with those for whom they interceded because they shared the latter’s human weakness in that both intercessor and interceded-for sinned. Yeshua did not sin, but He can sympathize because He suffered temptation without giving in to it.

He is called by God, just as Aharon was.  See Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8 for a description of the Levitical cohanim. This passage sets out three essential qualifications of the cohanim in any age and any generation.

  1. A cohen is appointed on humanity’s behalf to deal with the things concerning God.
  2. The cohen must be one with humanity.
  3. The cohen does not appoint himself; his appointment is of God. [I use the masculine pronoun here as the Tanach did not allow for female cohanim.]

Today I have become your father. We saw this earlier when we studied Messianic Jews 1:5 and learned that it was quoting Psalm 2.

To be compared with, often rendered, “after the order of,” as if there were an order of cohanim of which Malki-Tzedek was the founder; but this is not the meaning.  Malki-Tzedek (Melchizedek; the Hebrew name means “my king is righteousness”) appears first at Genesis 14:18 as both cohen of El Elyon (“Most High God”) and king of Shalem, identified with Jerusalem. But in Judaism, kingship, and cohenhood were separated. Saul, the son of Kish, was the first king; after him came David and all kings of Judah since then have been from the House of David (including Yeshua). On the other hand, the cohenly line ran from Moshe’s brother Aharon. Thus at Zechariah 6:13 there is a reference to two persons; by context, these must be King Zerubabbel (of the House of David) and Joshua the cohen hagadol (a descendant of Aaron). Yeshua is to be compared with Malki-Tzedek because, in Yeshua, Jewish cohen and Jewish king are united in one person. So far as is known, the author makes a chiddush (“innovation”) in presenting the idea of king and cohen combined in one person. [1]

Verses 7-10 expands on Messianic Jews 2:17 and 4:15 espousing Yeshua’s sympathizing with human beings because He became one of us, but, unlike us, He was utterly obedient to God.

Compare Yeshua’s prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears in the Garden of Gat-Sh’manim, as reported at Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46. You might think that He was not heard because of his godliness since the One who had the power to deliver Him from death did not do so. But He prayed that God’s will be done, and according to the Tanakh, it was God’s will that Yeshua die, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Kefa 3:18) so that he might become the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey Him.

After He had been brought to the goal. This is usually translated, “having been made perfect.”  But Yeshua was not imperfect; instead, it was God’s goal to have Yeshua made our perfect cohen gadol, fully representative of and empathetic with the human condition (as we learned Messianic Jews 4:15). Through His heavenly cohenhood He became the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey him, as explained further in Chapters 7-10.

In my next post, we’ll examine Messianic Jews 5:11-14 to learn to Lay Hold of Yeshua and His Redemption.

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[1] Ibid.