Deborah W. Rooke, «Jesus as Royal Priest: Reflections on the Interpretation of the Melchizedek Tradition in Heb 7», Vol. 81 (2000) 81-94
In Hebrews’ portrayal of Jesus as a high priest, not according to the line of Aaron but of Melchisedek, there is no reinterpretation of traditional messianic categories. Rather, inasmuch as Hebrews has shown Jesus to be an exalted figure of sacral monarchy, it has depicted him as a truly messianic figure, in whose person the lines of both priesthood and monarchy converge. This is, in turn, entirely consistent with the emphases in Hebrews on Sonship and priesthood, since taken together these are the two major elements of the royal ideology out of which messianism grew. There should, therefore, be allowed more room in Hebrews for royal ideology than traditionally seems to have been the case.
(and disappears!) as king of Salem and priest of God Most High. The writer begins his presentation in Heb 7 by summarising the details about Melchizedek as they appear in Gen 14,18-20 (Heb 7,1-2a), and then adding some exegetical comments of his own upon the Gen narrative (Heb 7,2b-3). It is true that some of the exegesis may seem somewhat fanciful when compared with the methods of present-day historical criticism, for example, the idea that because Gen 14,18-20 makes no mention of Melchizedeks birth or death or parentage, it is legitimate to claim that these verses portray him as an eternal figure (Heb 7,3)13. However, it is equally true that the writer of Hebrews cites, and makes no attempt to deny, the plain statements which are made about Melchizedek in Gen 14,18-20, including the description of him as king of Salem (Gen 14,18)14. In fact, a positively messianic slant is given to this description, as the writer cites etymologies which interpret the name Melchizedek and the title king of Salem as king of righteousness and king of peace respectively (Heb 7,2b)15. Commentators have long noted that righteousness and peace are qualities which have strongly messianic connotations16 and such associations would explain why the writer drew attention to these etymologies in the context of an exposition concerning Jesus: Melchizedek is being presented as an earthly type (or antitype) of the heavenly Son of God, the Messiah, who like Melchizedek will be a king of righteousness and peace17. There should be no mistaking the royal overtones of this description. Apart from the explicit use of the term