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.
he gave him a tithe of all that he had brought back". 1QapGen (22,17) is clearly along the same lines: "And he gave him a tithe of all the flocks of the king of Elam and his confederates".
In the context of the reading of the Bible in the Hellenistic and Roman periods we have examined the manner in which the biblical Melchizedek tradition is presented in the Targums and in related rabbinical and early Christian tradition. Targums, Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible, were in the process of formation from the Hellenistic period onwards, and continued to develop during the Roman period and later. While the Targums containing the Melchizedek material (Tg. Gen 14,18-20; Tg. Ps 110) are known only from manuscripts later than the Roman period, the tradition they represent is older, and must be considered not as a single unified whole but possibly varying from one item to another.
A Jewish tradition, first attested as words of R. Ishmael (ca. 130 CE), interpreting Ps 110 of Abraham and regarding the priesthood of Melchizedek as having been transferred to Abraham, may not have originated in an anti-Christian polemic, but may possibly be much older, and as exegesis may have been directed against the Hasmoneans in the second century BCE, although it would also have been used later in an anti-Christian polemic. The Pal. Tg. identification (Gen 14,18) of Melchizedek with Shem, the son of Noah, accepted without question by R. Ishmael, appears to be an old tradition, probably originating before the Christian era. Its origins do not appear to have been polemic. Rather are they to be found in the biblical data on Shems life-span, that would have stretched into the lifetime of Jacob. The identification was facilitated by another Jewish tradition that all firstborn sons before the priesthood of Aaron were priests. Providing Melchizedek with a genealogy may also have been a factor, even though this factor is not presented prominently in rabbinic or related Christian tradition.
The Targums have no clear evidence of the identification of the Valley of Shaveh (Gen 14,17). The Palestinian Targum tradition is here