Martin McNamara, «Melchizedek: Gen 14,17-20 in the Targums, in Rabbinic and Early Christian Literature», Vol. 81 (2000) 1-31
The essay is introduced by some words on the nature of the Aramaic translations of Gen 14 used in the study (the Tgs. Onq., Pal. Tgs. as in Tgs. Neof. I, Frg. Tgs., Ps.-J.). Tg. Neof. identifies the Valley of Shaveh (Gen 14,17) as the Valley of the Gardens (pardesaya). The value of Tg. Neof.s evidence here is doubtful. Most Targums retain Melchizedek as a personal name (not so Tg. Ps.-J.). Salem of v. 18 is identified as Jerusalem. Melchizedek is identified as Shem, son of Noah, mainly because of the life-span assigned to Shem in Gen 11. The question of Melchizedeks priesthood in early rabbinic tradition and in the Targums (Tg. Gen 14; Tg Ps. 110) is considered, as is also the use of Jewish targumic-type tradition on Melchizedek in such early Fathers as Jerome, Ephrem, and Theodore of Mopsuestia.
In this essay I intend to examine the biblical narrative on Melchizedek as translated and paraphrased in the Aramaic translations (Targums), and as interpreted in rabbinic tradition1. The biblical text in question will be principally Gen 14,18-20. Since the biblical text would lead one to believe that Melchizedeks encounter with Abram occurred in the Valley of Shaveh (Gen 14,17), I shall begin by an examination of this verse. While the name of Melchizedek does not occur in Targum of Psalm 110, in view of the importance of this text I shall also examine the treatment of Melchizedek in this psalm. Reference will also be made to Targum of 1 Chronicles 1,24 where the person of Melchizedek is implicitly referred to ("Shem the high priest"). With regard to rabbinic tradition, rabbinic texts will be our principle source. However, since some patristic texts also present or comment on current Jewish beliefs, or have traditions very similar to those of some Targumic texts, I shall draw on these Christian sources (Jerome, Ephrem the Syrian, Antiochene tradition) as occasion indicates.
I. Nature of the Targumic Evidence
The Aramaic translation of Genesis 14 has been preserved complete in Targum Onqelos (Tg. Onq.), in Codex Neofiti I (Tg. Neof.), and in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (Tg. Ps.-J.). Fragments of it have been transmitted in the so-called Fragmentary Targums (Frg. Tgs.),