Who is or was Melchizedek, King of Salem?
Melchizedek appears in The Alchemist as a wise old man, who knows the past and appears to know the future. He gives advice to the shepherd boy Santiago re a dream Santiago has had of finding treasure, but he always wakes before the dreams ends. Advice does not come cheap, everything in life has a price, and the old man charges Santiago a tenth of his flock of sheep. But he wishes him well and points him in the right direction of the Pyramids should he wish to find his treasure.
Melchizedek reveals himself to Santiago as the King of Salem. He also gives him two stones Urim and Thummim which will help him to make a decision should he be unable to make a decision himself. He also teaches him how to read the Soul of the World by understanding signs and omens.
If we cannot make up our minds, Urim and Thummim will help us to decide. They are used as in drawing lots. For most this is the only form of divination allowed, which is why Jesus Cards and Ruach Cards are frowned upon, and yet Canon Andrew White tells us of a prophesy that his world would be in the Middle East.
After Santiago departs on his journey, we learn three things, that Melchizedek knew Abraham, that he only charged him ten percent of what he possessed for his help and that he is immortal.
Who therefore is or was Melchizedek?
He pops up in Genesis in his encounter with Abraham.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. [Genesis 14:18-20 NIV]
He pops up in Genesis seemingly out of nowhere.
We learn he is a priest, but apparently a priest with no lineage, no genealogy. How so?
In Iraq and The Vicar of Baghdad , Canon Andrew White tells us of a senior Shia cleric who can trace himself back as a direct descendent of Imam Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. This was also true at the time of Abraham, priests were able to trace their lineage, and yet not so Melchizedek.
Whilst unknown to us, he must be known to Abraham, else why hand over ten per cent?
Hebrews sheds a little more light on who Melchizedek might be:
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. [Hebrews 7:3 KJV]
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” [Hebrews 7:1-2 NIV]
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace. [Hebrews 7:1-2]
Some say he is God, others that he is Jesus. Maybe an avatar of God.
In The Alchemist, as he watches Santiago sail off into the distance, the wise old man reflects on his life, gods do not have desires because they do not have destinies, but he desperately hopes the shepherd boy Santiago will be successful. He hopes he will not be forgotten, that he will remember that he met Melchizedek, King of Salem. ‘I know it’s the vanities of vanities, as you said my Lord. But an old king sometimes has to take some pride in himself.’