The mystery of Melchizedek

Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek - Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek - Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

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.

In the graphic version of The Alchemist, Melchizedek looks remarkably like Paulo Coelho!

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.’

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14 Responses to “The mystery of Melchizedek”

  1. Dances With Crayons Says:

    Enjoyed the reading and the learning. Thankyou Keith.
    Not sure why Melchizedek is my fav character in The Alchemist story, easy to love him of course – but is more than that!
    Also, thrilled that in Wikipedia article there was reference to a painted image of him in Maramures, Romania.

    Cheers for your weekend Keith, thanks again.

    Jane xo

  2. Dances With Crayons Says:

    Oh yes… you are right, the artist of the graphic novel edition depicted Paulo as Melchizedek. Amazing work!
    Having another look at the book today : )

    • keithpp Says:

      I do not know if the artist of the graphic novel edition of The Alchemist depicted Paulo as Melchizedek (unless he has said so), but he does look remarkably like him. Sadly I do not have a copy.

      But it then begs the question who is the Alchemist? At first I thought it was the wise man, but it is not, and yet the Alchemist also showed ancient wisdom.

      I have been meaning to re-read The Alchemist since the summer. I did read whilst in the Middle East in May. Maybe second or third reading. I found levels of meaning I had not been aware of before.

      Looking into the mystery of Melchizedek, he pops out of nowhere so must always be a mystery to us but not to the players, I was struck by the insight into him by Paulo.

      • Dances With Crayons Says:

        Hi Keith,
        From the graphic novel:
        “I was honored when David Dabel asked me if I would mind if the King of Salem could bear my resemblance. I had not foreseen that I would star in the graphic novel, but it was a very pleasant surprise.”

        Regarding the church in Libotin, Maramures County, Romania. Can ask a couple of people to see if they know anything about the painted door.

        The comment you make about the insight is eye-catching too, because it was mentioned in the book ‘The Orb Project’…the divine mind. There was a great quote and will try and find it.

        Thankyou again, Love,
        Jane xo

        Jane xo

      • Dances With Crayons Says:

        First paragraph is directly from Paulo Coelho’s comments in The Alchemist A Graphic Novel.

  3. Dances With Crayons Says:

    “I was left with the challenge of explaining to people how it was possible to be endowed with a divine mind and yet be separate from it.” – JZ Knight (foreward of the book ‘The Orb Project’)

  4. marie-christine Says:

    Interesting, I used to live on the Orb river.

  5. Dances With Crayons Says:

    My son wrote today:
    ” what i can tell you is that the picture is indeed melchizedek, as that is the name written all around it (is it written in cyrillic though, but i know a little cyrillic). ”
    And he will ask family in Maramures to see they have seen this picture in Libotin.
    I also wrote to the person that shared the photo in Wikipedia. Hoping that the email address he provided is still functional.

  6. Dances With Crayons Says:

    Dear Keith,
    I heard from Mircea, the author of the Wiki article today!!
    I will go through the links myself next week; wanted to share right away.
    My son said that it was unlikely that his inlaws have been to Libotin, since the village is off the main road, a ways from where they grew up, and now live. But we DID go to Larga! It is a UNESCO site and was not open the day we visited. A groundskeeper was present, and did open a couple of the buildings for us to explore (not the church). I took pictures there.

    Jane xo

    From Mircea:
    The name of the painter of The wooden church in Libotin is Palcovici Mihai, the figure was painted in the 18th century (around 1760). I have photographed over one thousand wooden churches in Romania but I have seen the representation of Melchizedek (he is not a typical figure for Romanian religious iconography) only in two churches: Libotin and Larga, both churches are among the oldest wooden churches preserved in Maramureș. Both villages are close to the town of Târgu-Lăpuș (20-30 kilometers east). Here you have the links because all the articles may be found in Wikipedia.
    For another photo of Melchizedek- (this church was painted by the same artist)

  7. Jessica Says:

    Interesting reading 🙂

  8. Jessica Says:

    Made me found a interesting link
    If you believe in reincarnation that is 😉
    I believe in reincarnation …. for me there is no doubt because of some evindence that makes me not doubt 😉
    Do you believe in reincarnation Keith?

  9. Daniel Says:

    Hmmm… Interesting…

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