Menu

Melchizedek and the Dead Sea Scrolls (3)

This post will be our final look at how Melchizedek was perceived by the Qumran community. In the previous two posts I pointed out that the Qumran community saw Melchizedek as a divine Messiah who would remove the sins (debts) of the people and execute judgments on those who rebelled against God’s precepts. Consider this excerpt about Melchizedek:

11Q13

14 Allied with him will be all the [“righteous] divine beings” (Isaiah 61:3). [The …] is that wh[ich … al]l the divine beings. This vi[sitation]

15 is the Day of [Salvation] that He has decreed [through Isai]ah the prophet [concerning all the captives,] inasmuch as scripture sa[ys, “How] beautiful

16 upon the mountains are the fee[t of] the messeng[er] who [an]nounces peace, who brings [good] news, [who announces salvat]ion, who [sa]ys to Zion, ‘Your [di]vine being [reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7). ]

17 This scripture’s interpretation: “the mounta[ins” are the] prophet[s,] they w[ho were sent to proclaim God’s truth and to] proph[esy] to all I[srael.]

18 “The messenger” is the [An]ointed of the spir[it,] of whom Dan[iel] spoke, [“After the sixty-two weeks, an Anointed one shall be cut off” (Daniel 9:26). The “messenger who brings]

19 good news, who announ[ces salvation”] is the one of whom it is wri[tt]en, [“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, the day of vengeance of our God;]

20 to comfo[rt all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:2). This scripture’s interpretation:] he is to inst[r]uct them about all the periods of history for eter[nity … and in the statutes of]

21 [the] truth. […]

22 [… dominion] that passes from Belial and ret[urns to the Sons of Light …]

23 […] by the judgment of God, just as it is written concerning him, [“who says to Zi]on ‘Your divine being reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7). [“Zi]on” is

24 [the congregation of all the sons of righteousness, who] uphold the covenant and turn from walking [in the way] of the people. “Your di[vi]ne being” is

25 [Melchizedek, who will del]iv[er them from the po]wer of Belial.

All of the righteous beings will be aligned with Melchizedek, this divine Messiah. The Qumran community continues by quoting a number of Messianic scripture and ties them to Melchizedek. In verse 16 of this scroll we see the phrase “Your divine being reigns.” This phrase also appears in verse 23 of the scroll. Jump down to verses 24-25 we read that Melchizedek is the divine being who will deliver them from the power of Satan (Belial).

Further, Melchizedek seems to be described as the Anointed One, another Messianic reference. The “messenger” is also referring to Melchizedek, not only because the context is about the understanding of this Messianic figure, but also because of verse 19 of the scroll. Recall that the quotation “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” was applied to Melchizedek. We noticed this fact in the first post where Isaiah was adapted by the Qumran community to read, “to proclaim the year of Melchizedek’s favor.”

The point of these posts has been to show that there is a need to understand the original audience, background, and context when we read the scriptures. Melchizedek clearly has a fuller, deeper concept in the Jewish mind in the first century than we understand. The more background and history we are able to understand, the better we can appropriately understand and apply the scriptures. This belief system concerning Melchizedek reminds us of what the writer of Hebrews said:

9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (Hebrews 5:9-11; ESV)

I wonder if it was not this symbolism concerning Melchizedek that the writer of Hebrews wanted to discuss, but was unable because of the spiritual laziness and dullness of hearing that these people had. May we not be spiritual dull and lazy so that we will seek greater depths of knowledge in the Word of God.