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.
it would not be unreasonable to interpret the whole series as causal. In that case, Melchizedeks remaining a priest for ever would not only be on the grounds of his priesthood, his meeting with Abraham and his lack of earthly origins or end of days, but also on the grounds of his being king of Salem, king of righteousness and king of peace, which are the other characteristics cited in the list of subordinate clauses. And if he possesses (eternal) priesthood inasmuch as he is a king, then clearly the priesthood being described is that of a sacral king. Hence, the royal aspect of his character is an important part of his own priesthood, and therefore also of the priesthood of the one to whom he is likened.
II. The Nature of Jesuss Priesthood
Having examined the figure of Melchizedek who serves as the basis for the exposition of Jesuss priesthood, the second part of this study consists of an examination of that priesthood itself as it is described in Heb 7,11-22. There are several features of this description which echo characteristics of the priesthood of the ancient monarchs, pointing to the conclusion that this priesthood after the order of Melchizedek is not a new kind of priesthood which has never before been seen. Instead, it is in reality a reprise of the ancient royal priesthood, which is thoroughly appropriate for a messianic figure such as Jesus.
1. Jesus, Royal Priest from the Tribe of Judah (Heb 7,14)
Perhaps the most obvious correspondence between the priesthood of Jesus and that of the monarchs is in the line of descent of both monarchs and Messiah. While Jesus is evidently regarded in Heb 7 as fulfilling a priestly role, he is equally clearly noted as being a descendant of a non-Levitical tribe in connection with which there is no stipulation in the Law about priesthood. However, the significance of this observation lies not only in Jesuss lack of Levitical descent, but also in the tribe to which he is said to belong, namely, the tribe of Judah (Heb 7,14). This was also true of the sacral monarchs of the Davidic line, who represented their people before God in the capacity of high priests, yet who were descended not from the traditional priestly tribe of Levi but from the tribe of Judah. Again, most commentators are sensitive to the messianic overtones of the mention of the tribe of Judah, and indeed to those of the phraseology which is used to indicate Jesuss descent from Judah he is said to have arisen (a)nate/talken) from that tribe, a word derived from the root a)nate/llw which occurs in the LXX to denote the appearance of a messianic figure25. Commentators have also noted that the ancient monarchs used to undertake priestly functions on behalf of their people, including sacrificing at the altar26. But as before, no attempt has been made to capitalise