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.
Isaacs association with the schoolhouse of Shem at his marriage (at the age of 40 years) is introduced abruptly. Tg. Ps.-J. prepares his readers for the association of Isaac with Shem at Gen 22,19, immediately after the account of the Aqedah (which in the Palestinian Targum tradition [Tg. Neof. Exod 12, 42; Frg. Tgs.VN; Frg. Tg.P Exod 15,18; Tg. Ps.-J. Gen 22,1] occurred when Isaac was 37 years). There the MT simply says that Abraham returned to his young men, and went together to Beersheba. Tg. Ps.-J. prefaces this with the words: "The angels on high took Isaac and brought him to the schoolhouse of Shem the Great, and he was there three years". Since this is found in no other Targum text, or known in any other Jewish tradition, it can be taken as a creation of the author of Ps.-J.
We may also note that Tamar of Genesis 38, to become an ancestor of David, is also without ancestry. The text gave rise to questions by reason of the relations of Judah (son of Jacob) with her. In a rabbinic tradition Tamar is regarded as the daughter of Shem (b. Meg. 10b; BerR 85,10; BerR 13,4). The tradition is also found in Tg. Ps.-J. Gen 38,6, but in none of the other Targums.
This Palestinian Targum tradition is found in extenso in the Commentary on Genesis by Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373)24, probably composed about 373 although Ephrem makes no mention of any Jewish connection. The comment on Gen 14,18-20 in this commentary, in fact, consists almost entirely of material as found in the Palestinian Targums. Not only is Melchisedek identified with Shem, but Shem who is believed to have lived on into the time of Jacob is identified with Melchisedek. The relevant section of Ephrems commentary on Gen 14,18-20 (section 11, 2,4) merits reproduction in full.