What Is the History of Melchizedek?

Melchizedek is a Biblical figure found in the Book of Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews. He was the king of Salem and called a priest of God Most High, which was unusual for a time where monotheism was not widely practiced. Some Biblical scholars have theorized that Melchizedek was actually a temporary version of Christ on earth.

There are no details regarding the ancestry of Melchizedek in the Bible. In fact, the Book of Hebrews indicates that he has no beginning date and no ending date. He appears first in Genesis 14, when he brings bread and wine to Abram (later known as Abraham) after he returns from defeating an enemy king. He offers a blessing to Abram. Many scholars believe that Jesus took over the priesthood that was held by Melchizedek, becoming the forever priesthood holder.

Several religious groups recognize Melchizedek as a saint. Most Christian denominations believe that the Melchizedek priesthood was last held by Jesus Christ. However, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) believe that the priesthood still exists and can be passed on to worthy members of their church. They believe that the priesthood was passed down from Adam all the way to Moses. Moses intended to pass the priesthood on to the Israelites, but they were deemed unworthy to hold the priesthood.

The Melchizedek priesthood is the higher stage of priesthood given to worthy members of the LDS church. Only men can hold the priesthood, and African-Americans were barred from holding the priesthood until 1978. Once a man is conferred the priesthood, he is then able to give priesthood blessings, particularly to his wife and children.