Source data for messianic titles

 


[First installment/ Sep 5-2015; additional material added Oct 25-2015]]


 

 

Someone wanted me to give the source data for the chart of the Messiah's roles, given in this article (falsechrist.html) on the Tank.

 

Here's the list of functions/roles I mentioned there:

 

1.       He was to be a “second” Moses (prophet)

2.       He was to be a “second” David (Davidic king)

3.       He was to be a “second” Melchizedek (Kingly Priest)

4.       He was to be a faithful priest (as opposed to Eli)

5.       He was to be a Rejected Messiah

6.       He was to be a Betrayed Messiah

7.       He was to be a killed-and-resurrected Davidic king

8.       He was to come in power ‘on clouds’

9.       He was to come in weakness ‘on a donkey’

10.   He was to be a Teacher of the Gentiles

11.   He was to be a “Breaker” (Micah 2.12-13) of both external enemies and of internal power elites within Israel (and ‘stone of stumbling’)

12.   He was to be a Suffering Servant

13.   He was to be Ruler of All Nations (and destroyer of all wicked, so there could be peace in the world)

14.   He was to be Sacrifice for the sins of Israel

15.   He was to Redeem (Release) Israel from bondage to foreign powers

16.   He was to Save (in the future) all those who believed (in the present)

 

I will have to do this in sections, and this one will contain the first 4 (2nd Moses, 2nd David, 2nd Melchizedek, faithful priest).

 

 

I should remind the reader here of qualifications I have made in the other prior articles on the theme of messiahship, that messianic and/or eschatological figures were manifold and not unitary. As I have discussed previously, how the various eschatological figures were related, were instantiated in a single individual, and how they were derived from scripture varied considerably among the various pre-Christian "Judaisms".

 

By way of reminder:

 

"It should be clear from these remarks, however, that “messiah,” even as an eschatological term, can refer to different kinds of figures, and that to speak of “the messiah” without further qualification is to speak ambiguously. This is the valid insight that underlies the recent denials of any common messianism in ancient Judaism. One could, arguably, give a satisfactory account of Jewish future hope without using the word “messiah” at all. What matters is the expectation of a Davidic king, of an ideal priest, of an eschatological prophet. Besides, there was no Jewish orthodoxy in the matter of messianic expectation, and so we should expect some variation. … We shall argue, however, that the variation was limited, and that some forms of messianic expectation were widely shared. To be sure, we cannot go back to the single pattern of messianic expectation described by Schürer and Moore. We shall find four basic messianic paradigms (king, priest, prophet, and heavenly messiah), and they were not equally widespread. (Admittedly, the “heavenly messiah” paradigm is somewhat different from the others, since it is not defined by function, and can overlap with the other paradigms.)"  [Collins, J. J. (2010). The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Second Edition., p. 18). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.]

 

 

And

 

"The term “messiah” (Hebrew: mashiah, “anointed”) was fluid in Israelite and Jewish society up to the time of the destruction of the second temple. To anoint meant to pour or smear oil on someone. It was a sign of being chosen by God for a specific task. The Hebrew Bible contains examples of kings, priests, prophets, and even a foreign emperor (Cyrus) being anointed. Postbiblical Jewish literature presents an equally varied set of possibilities for defining “messiah.” Qumran expected two messiahs, one priestly and one royal, in addition to an eschatological prophet. The scrolls call major interpreters of Torah messiahs. The Similitudes of Enoch portray a heavenly messiah who will judge the powerful and the wealthy. Testament of Levi 18 expects a priestly messiah with royal and priestly functions. The Testament of Judah expects two messiahs, one priestly and one royal. Some Jews (e.g., the Sadducees) did not expect divine intervention. Others expected God to intervene in history soon, but directly, not through an intermediary. Hoped-for mediators of God’s action were sometimes, but not always, called messiahs, and they assumed a multitude of forms, few of them supernatural. There is simply no consistent pattern." [Murphy, F. J. (2010). Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus (p. 365). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.]

 

And

 

"Despite the limited sources, my goal in the subsequent chapters (chs. 9, 10, 11) is to isolate the multiple portraits of Messiah from the literature listed above. Like many other people familiar with both second temple history and literature (i.e., canonical and non-canonical), we too will come to recognize that there was no monolithic idea about a Jewish messianic figure but that there were multiple portraits present in the literature." [Bateman IV, H. W. (2012). Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King (p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic.]

 

 

I will just go through my list, providing the relevant texts, fulfillments, and related Jewish and/or extra-biblical materials--with comments from the scholarly literature.

 

Since this list is composed of composite / 'collapsed' items (e.g. Messiah to be a Davidic King, entails at least two separate items: Messiah will be a descendent of David and Messiah will be a king), I will sometimes have to break the item into its parts and deal with/document each one separately.

 

Jewish and/or extra-biblical materials that illustrate the interpretation of the OT/Tanakh passages will be given as available. This would include the Aramaic translations in the Targum's, rabbinic literature, materials from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan materials, the pseudoepigrapha and any other relevant non-Christian materials.

 

One. He was to be a 'second' Moses (prophet).

 

The foundational passage here is Deut 18:15, 17-19.

 

The gospel narratives portray public perception of Jesus as including him being a prophet (Matt 21.11; Luke 24.19; John 4.19) and even as "THE prophet" (John 6.14-15). In Acts 3.22 and 7.37, Jesus is explicitly said to be the prophet 'like unto Moses', citing the passage from Deut.

 

The main connection point between Deuteronomy and the Gospels is Isaiah--in the Servant Songs:

 

"Isaiah portrays the Lord’s ideal Servant in four oracles, popularly known as the Servant Songs (42:1–7; 49:1–13; 50:4–11; 52:13–53:12). These texts are traditionally grouped together for three reasons: the ideal Servant’s identity is anonymous; the ideal Servant obeys Yahweh; and the ideal Servant fulfills his calling despite suffering and so eventually is exalted by God." [Johnston, G. H. (2012). Messianic Trajectories in Isaiah. In Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King (p. 154). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic.]

 

 

Although the Servant Songs reveal a messianic figure who has both royal, priestly, and prophetic characteristics, these three strands mesh/merge well into the figure of a messianic 'second Moses'.

 

Hugenberger examines the biblical data in each of the Songs and their context, for each of the roles, and suggests at the conclusion of his study:

 

"Although Isaiah 40-55 is extraordinarily rich in its complexity and multifaceted imagery, it is widely recognized that the controlling and sustained theme of these chapters. Is that of a second exodus…it is almost omnipresent in chapters 40-55… at least ten texts which make explicit use of second exodus imagery: 40:3-5; 41:17-20; 42:14-16; 43:1-3, 4-21; 49:8-12; 51:9-10; 52:11-12; 55:12-13… As noted by G. von Rad, the prominence of the second exodus theme in Deutero-Isaiah invites, if it does not demand, an identification of the servant of the Lord with a second Moses figure…. The servant songs yield abundant confirmatory evidence for the identification of the servant figure as the long awaited 'prophet like Moses'… all the evidence cited earlier for the royal, priestly, and especially prophetic characteristics of the servant figure is easily accommodated if the figure is understood as a reference to the promised 'prophet like Moses' mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:14ff and 34:10. Indeed, it is arguable that only on the assumption of a Moses-like figure, in whom these disparate offices cohere, can justice be done to the rich diversity of imagery. " [GP Hugenberger, "The Servant of the Lord in the 'Servant Songs' of Isaiah: A Second Moses Figure", in The Lord's Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts. Satterwhite, Hess, and GJ Wenham (eds). PaternosterBaker:1995, pp 122-123, 129-130]

 

"It is the contention of this paper, however, that only by recognizing the servant as predominantly a second Moses figure can justice be done both to the integrity of the servant songs with their context, which is dominated by second exodus imagery, and to the otherwise perplexing combination of corporate and individual, as well as prophetic, royal, and priestly traits in the portrait of the servant." [GP Hugenberger, "The Servant of the Lord in the 'Servant Songs' of Isaiah: A Second Moses Figure", in The Lord's Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts. Satterwhite, Hess, and GJ Wenham (eds). PaternosterBaker:1995, p139]

 

 

We will return to these passages when we look at the topics of the Rejected Messiah and the Suffering Servant, but for our purposes here the expectation of a Second Moses (as prophet) at the time of the writing of the Servant Songs is sufficient.

 

The promise of a future / eschatological prophet is a pervasive theme through Jewish literature, even though there was a large number of candidates for this (e.g. Elijah, some resurrected prophets of the Old Testament). Occasionally this verse is cited or alluded to in such discussions, but often it is simply a background element. Future eschatological figures were manifold.

 

"The hope for such a prophet remained alive (1 Macc. 4:46; 14:41 may be relevant). The Qumran sect awaited a prophet and cited this passage (4Q175 I, 5–8; cf. 1QS IX, 11), and a firm expectation was held among the Samaritans (Memar Marqah 4:12). There were a number of “messianic prophets” in the first century—persons who claimed to be prophets and saw themselves as having a role to deliver Israel from its enemies (Evans 1993b: 190–92)." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 548). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.]

 

"What is interesting about this is that J.J. Collins has suggested, in the light of the Messianic Apocalypse, that there was a messianic expectation in which 'the messiah is more likely to be an eschatological prophet in the manner of Elijah. The royal messiah is never said to raise the dead. Elijah was credited with raising the dead during his historical career (1 Kgs 17)."' Cited in [NT:JSPP, 250]).

 

"The Hebrew bible itself portrays various post-Mosaic figures as partial 'second Moses' figures (e.g. Joshua, David, Elijah, Ezekiel, the Suffering Servant of Isiah), and there are statements in the rabbinic literature about Ezra  (as the alleged 'precursor of Pharisaic Judaism, b. Sanh. 21b) and Baruch being such a figure ("Indeed, like Ezra in 4 Ezra, Baruch in 2 Baruch is conceived as a second Moses" [Najman, H., Manoff, I., & Mroczek, E. (2012). "How to Make Sense of Pseudonymous Attribution: The Cases of 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch". In M. Henze (Ed.), A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism (p. 317). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.,])

 

But most later Jewish literature develops the 'second Moses' theme as more 'aimed at' the expected messiah, in all versions of Jewish writings:

 

"The Damascus document refers Dt. 18:15 to the “teacher of what is true” who bears the characteristics of the second Moses and whose return as the Messiah is obviously expected. (d) Test. L. 8:14 f., a passage which belongs to the Jewish original of Test. XII, ascribes to the Messiah the three dignities of king, priest and prophet, though it may be questioned whether the last of these is derived from Dt. 18:15 and not from the sphere of speculation on the first man and the redeemer." [Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 4, p. 859). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.]

 

"It would be a fatal error to assume that investigation of later Jewish exegesis of Dt. 18:15, 18 settles definitively the question whether the figure of Moses influenced Messianic expectation. In many passages the Messiah is depicted as a second Moses even though there is no reference to Dt. 18. These are passages which have as their basis the doctrine that the redemption out of Egypt is a type of Messianic redemption. Taught by the OT itself, this doctrine “as no other” “comprehensively determined at an early period the shape of the teaching concerning the final redemption.”" [Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 4, pp. 859–860). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.]

 

"Within the context of this typology of the first and final redemption there is found in Rabb. literature the much repeated principle, developed in all kinds of different ways: “As the first redeemer (Moses), so the final redeemer (the Messiah).” [Qoh. r., 1, 28 on 1:9; Par. Midr. Samuel, 14 § 9 on 1 S. 12:3. Also Ruth r., 5, 6 on 2:14 and par.: Nu. r., 11 on 6:23; Pesikt., 49b; Pesikt. r., 15 (72b), cf. Cant. r., 2, 22 on 2:9f.]" [Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 4, p. 860). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.]

 

"In this precise form the typology of Moses and the Messiah is first found in Qoh. r., 1, 28 on 1:9: “R. Berekia (c. 350) said in the name of R. Jiçchaq (II, c. 300): As the first redeemer, so the last redeemer. As it is said of the first redeemer: And Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on an ass (Ex. 4:20), so the last redeemer, for it is said: Lowly and riding on an ass (Zech. 9:9). As the first redeemer caused manna to come down, for it is said: Lo, I cause bread to rain down upon you from heaven (Ex. 16:4), so the last redeemer will cause manna to come down, for it is said: White bread will lie on the earth (Ps. 72:16 Midr.). As the first redeemer caused the well to spring forth (Nu. 20:11), so the last redeemer will cause water to spring forth, for it is said: And a fountain will break forth out of the house of Yahweh (Joel 3:18). --- The oldest Rabb. instance of this typology is in Tanch. עקב (Vienna, 1863), 7b: “How long will the days of the Messiah last? R. Aqiba (c. 90–135) said: Forty years. As the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, so he (the Messiah) will lead them forth and take them into the wilderness and cause them to eat bitter herbs and roots (Job 30:4).” Like Moses, the Messiah will lead the people into the wilderness to undergo a period of distress and suffering. Whether R. Eli’ezer (c. 90) already reckoned the Messianic period as 40 yrs. is not certain. The silence of Rabb. lit. in the time between 135 (Aqiba) and 300 (Jiçchaq II) is connected with the attack on Christianity, which also used the Moses/Messiah typology." [Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 4, pp. 860–861). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.]

 

"If, however, we begin on another basis, the expectation of an eschatological prophet, more light can be shed on early Jewish christologies. While some today would contend that 1 Macc 4:46 and 14:41 point decisively toward an expectation of a (Mosaic) eschatological prophet on the basis of Deut 18:15–18 and Mal 4:5, others contest this point of view. Other evidence is not as easy to dismiss—in particular, texts such as 4QTestimonia; 4Q158 frag. 6, 6–9; 11QTemple;99 T. Benj. 9:2–3, in its use of “unique prophet”; the exegesis of Philo with respect to an eschatological prophet (Spec. Leg. 1.64–65); the early Christian evidence that reflects Jewish expectations (e.g., Mark 6:15; 8:28; John 6:14); as well as the Jewish leadership prophets examined above. And it is these that lead me to agree with Dale Allison’s recent conclusion: 'The outcome of this discussion is that the expectation of an eschatological prophet like Moses, founded upon Deut 18:15 and 18, was not little known, or just the esoteric property of Qumran conventile and Jewish-Christian churches. It was instead very much in the air in first-century Palestine and helped to instigate several short-lived revolutionary movements.' [Allison, New Moses, 83.]" [Mcknight, S. (2000). Jesus and Prophetic Actions. Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 10, 232.]

 

 

 

Two: He was to be a 'second' David (Davidic King).

 

This breaks into two parts: being a descendent of David and being a 'royal messiah'.

 

The Hebrew bible contains many verses ascribing Davidic lineage to the Coming One: 2 Sam. 7:12–13, 16; Ps. 89:3–4; Ps. 89:20, 27–29; Ps. 132:11; Jer. 23:5; Jer. 33:14–15. And the royal character of the messiah was likewise a common theme, ruling over both Israel and the nations: Ps. 2:6; Ps. 132:11; Jer. 23:5–6; Ezek. 37:24–25.

 

NT fulfilments in Jesus are obvious as well: lineage (Matt. 21:9; Matt. 22:42; John 7:42; Acts 13:22–23; Rom. 1:3) and royalty (Matt. 2:5–6; Luke 1:32–33; John 1:49; John 18:33, 36–37).

 

There's not much controversy about the Messiah being the son of David nor about him being a King, in the extra-biblical texts. The term "King Messiah" is found frequently in this literature, and it is often connected with David.

 

For example, here are passages from the Targums (from Huckel, T. (1998). The Rabbinic Messiah. Philadelphia, PA: Hananeel House.) :

 

Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king, and prosper, and shall enact a righteous and meritorious law in the land. [Jonathan, Jer 23.5]

 

But they shall worship the Lord their God and obey the Messiah, the son of David, their king, whom I will raise up for them. [Jonathan, Jer 30.9]

 

In those days and at that time, I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, who shall enact a righteous and meritorious law in the land." [Jonathan, Jer 33.15]

 

Ditto for rabbinic literature:

 

And kings will stand up against the son of David to slay him, as it said 'The kings of the earth stand up … against the Lord, and against His anointed' [Midrash on Psalsm, Book 4, Psalm 92,10; citing Ps 2.2]

 

… Our Rabbis taught,  The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), ‘Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee’, as it is said, I will tell of the decree  etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance. [b. Sukk. 52a]

 

Another interpretation: THE SCEPTRE [STAFF] SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH alludes to the Messiah, son of David, who will chastise the State with a staff, as it says, Thou shalt break them with a rod [staff] of iron. [Midr.Rabb. Gen 97, New Version]

 

Ask of Me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:8).  God, speaking to the Messiah, says: If thou dost ask for dominion over the nations, already they are thine inheritance; if for the ends of the earth, already they are thy possession. [Midr.Psalms, Book 1, Psalm 2:10]

 

and Thy truth being the Messiah, son of David, as is written “The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it: of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” [Midr.Psalms, Book 2, Psalms 42,43]

 

R. Hanin said: By reason of the merit of causing A LAMP TO BURN CONTINUALLY (XXVII, 20) you will be worthy to welcome the lamp of the King Messiah.  What is his reason?  Because it says, There will I make a horn to shoot up unto David, there have I ordered a lamp for Mine anointed [Midr.Rabb. Lev. 31.11]

 

This [Jer 23.5] refers to the Messiah, of whom it also says, I will raise unto David a righteous shoot (zemah zaddik), and he shall reign as king and prosper, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. [Midr.Rabb. Num. 18.21]

 

 

That's enough for that Messianic role--one can find other references in the non-Rabbinical works in other Tank pieces.

 

Here's a summary chart of "mentions" of a regal messiah figure, compiled by Bateman:

 

 

[Source: Bateman IV, H. W. (2012). Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King (p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic.]

 

We should also note that the Servant of the Lord in the Servant Songs of Isaiah has royal characteristics, in addition to his prophetic ones:

 

"A Royal Servant (including the traditional Messianic View). Without diminishing the impressive list of evidences in favour of prophetic elements in the portrait of the servant figure, other scholars have adduced equally cogent arguments for recognizing various royal aspects to his work. The designation 'servant' (ebed) is commonly used of royal figures both within Isaiah and elsewhere. For example, 37:35 identifies David as 'my servant': 'For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David' (…) David is also identified as 'the servant of Yahweh' (… in Psalm 18:1; 36:1, and pronominal forms of the term 'servant' (i.e., 'my servant', 'your servant', 'his servant'), referring to Yahweh, are applied to David in dozens of other verses. Likewise, in 42:1 the designation 'my chosen one' (…) for the servant may also suggest a royal identity, since this term is applied to David in Psalm 89:3 [Heb. v. 4]. --- The assertion in 42:1 that Yahweh has placed his Spirit on his servant is congruent with a royal identity (cf. 11:1-3), but it does not require one. The intended result of that enduing, however, does favour a royal identity: the servant 'will bring forth justice' in 42:1, 3 and 'establish justice in the earth' in 42:4 (cf. 51:4). --- In the fourth song the texts which describe the response of earthly kings to the servant (52:14-15) and which promise victory and the exaltation of the servant (52:13; 53:12) likewise support a royal identity for the servant. The same is true of the honorific acknowledgement by kings and princes, who will 'stand up' and also 'prostrate themselves' before the servant in 49:7. --- In 53:2 the twin metaphors of the tender shoot and the root, though less clear in their implication, may also suggest a royal figure. Supporting this implication is the mention of the 'root of Jesse' (…) in 11:10 (although the vocabulary differs from 53:2; compare also the 'branch' […] imagery for the Davidic scion in 11:1, found also in Je. 23:5; 33:15; Zc. 3:8; 6:12). --- Striking parallels between the servant figure in the songs and the depiction of Cyrus in 44:28-45:13 (cf. 41:1-7, 25; 48:14) include the general similarity between the prediction prior to their birth of the careers of both figures (42:9; 49:l/44:26ff.), the congruence between the presence of the Spirit upon the servant in 42:1 and the 'anointing' (…) of Cyrus in 45:1, and the fact that both are 'called' (…) by Yahweh (42:6/45:4), 'chosen' (…) by Yahweh (49:7/42:1), and that Yahweh has 'taken [each] by the hand' (42:6/45:1). Israel is the beneficiary of the liberating work of both Cyrus and the servant (42:7; 49:5f./45:4,13), and God will enable both to succeed and to enjoy honour (42:4; 49:4f.; 50:7, 9; 52:12; 53:10, 12/44:28-45:5). --- Although these parallels do not constitute proof of identity, particularly in the light of the servant's explicit acknowledgement of Yahweh in 49:1-5 and 50:4-10 contrasted with the repeated assertion that Cyrus does not know Yahweh in 45:4f., nevertheless because Cyrus is clearly a royal figure, these parallels support a royal identity for the servant…. Drawing attention to the evidences of royal imagery discussed above, the traditional messianic interpretation of the servant songs argues that the servant is the promised offspring of David mentioned in Isaiah 7,9, and 11. Helping to link these texts to the concerns of the servant songs is 55:3-5, which renews the promise of an 'everlasting covenant' (… cf. 42:6; 49:8), namely 'my steadfast, sure love for David' (…). Just as the servant songs stress the international scope of the servant's ministry (42:1, 4, 6; 49:1, 6, 7; 52:15), in 55:4f. Yahweh asserts: 'I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you...' This promise is reminiscent of David's confession in 2 Samuel 22:44f. Although it is sometimes suggested that 55:3-5 transfers the substance of Yahweh's covenant with David to the people as a whole, this is not clear, and it is not favoured by the emphasis on the permanence of that covenant in vs. 3 and the use of singular forms ('him', 'witness', 'leader', 'commander', 'you') throughout 55:4f." [GP Hugenberger, "The Servant of the Lord in the 'Servant Songs' of Isaiah: A Second Moses Figure", in The Lord's Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts. Satterwhite, Hess, and GJ Wenham (eds). PaternosterBaker:1995, pp 114-117]

 

 

Three (and Four): He was to be a 'second' Melchizedek (Kingly/Royal Priest) and a faithful priest (as opposed to Eli).

 

Again, let us remember that there were many messianic 'figures', so we are looking for evidence that one of these messianic figures was (a) ascribed priestly functions and (b) was said to be 'anointed' (i.e. 'messiah').

 

It wouldn’t have to be either the 'high priest' or even an Aaronic or Levitical priest -- to fulfill this role. It would just need to perform the functions of a priest, in an anointed and eschatological role.

 

There is much data about the functions of the OT priesthood, although there were pre-Mosaic and extra-Mosaic priestcraft activities recorded too (e.g. Job, Noah, Abraham, Cain/Abel, Jethro).

 

One summary states the core functions:

 

"When one thinks of priesthood in the OT one usually associates with it the sacrificial, ritualistic, mediatorial and intercessory duties of the priest. The bulk of prescriptions relating to these duties in the Scriptures is overwhelming. Along with these one may also mention the teaching of the law (Lev 10:10-11; Deut 33:10; 2 Chr 5:3; Mal 2:6-9), the administration of justice (Deut 17:8-13; Ezek 44:24) and the discovering of the divine will (e.g. Num 27:21; 1 Sam 14:41; 28:6; etc.). That the OT priesthood includes all these functions is beyond question." ["The Priest As The Redeemed Man: A Biblical-Theological Study Of The Priesthood",  Alex T. M. Cheung; The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29/3 (September 1986) 266ff]

 

 

The functions of a priest in the Hebrew Bible were many, but here are some of the main ones:

1.       Sacrificing

2.       Representing the people before God

3.       Interceding for the people

4.       Bearing guilt for sins of the people against the sanctuary

5.       Determining the will of God (Ex 28.30)

6.       Teaching/Instructing people in the law of God (Deut 31:9-12)

7.       Leading worship

8.       Entering the holy spaces (e.g. Holy of Holies) for atonement and sacrifices

9.       Making decisions about clean/unclean status of objects and people

10.   Building, maintaining, and guarding the tabernacle/temple

 

The Hebrew bible mentions a couple of these in connection with messianic figures.

 

The Servant of Isaiah 53.12 has two of these items (bearing guilt, intercession):

 

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

 

And the priestly aspect of the Servant is certainly a part of Isaiah's representation of the Servant:

 

"Alternatively, some scholars have sought to do greater justice to the various priestly aspects of the servant's work by positing a reference to Jeremiah, who was both a priest and a prophet, to Ezekiel, who was also both a priest and a prophet, to Ezra, to Onias, or to some other contemporary priest. The enhanced religious and civil leadership role of Israel's priesthood in the second temple period may add to the attractiveness of this approach. Certainly the term 'my servant' (…, 42:1; 49:3) would be applicable to a priest in view of Zechariah 3:8, where Joshua the High Priest and his associates are said to prefigure 'my servant the Branch' (n…). Likewise, just as the servant is Yahweh's chosen (…) in 42:1; 49:7, Aaron is chosen (…) by Yahweh in Psalm 105:26 (cf. Dt. 18:5). --- Other hints of the priestly identity of the servant include: the 'teaching/law' (…) of the servant for which the coastlands wait (42:4; cf. Mai. 2:6-9); the 'justice' (…) he is to establish (42:1, 3f.; cf. Dt. 17:9ff.; 2 Ki. 17:27; 2 Ch. 19:8); the mentioned 'reparation/guilt offering' (…) in 53:10; the fact that the servant 'sprinkles' (…) the nations in 52:15; and the servant's intecessory work in 53:12 (cf. Ps. 106:30; Je. 7:16). Deserving special note is the fact that in 53:4-6 Israel's guilt appears to devolve on the servant in a manner which is similar to the experience of the priests when they eat the sin and guilt offerings of the people (cf. Lv. 10:17; Zc. 3). In particular, the servant bears the punishment of the people in 53:4ff. in words that echo the experience of the prophet-priest Ezekiel in Ezekiel 4:4-6, and the servant's death effects atonement in 53:10-12 in a manner that is perhaps reminiscent of the symbolic expiatory consequence of the death of the High Priest in Numbers 35:25, 28, 32; Joshua 20:6."  [GP Hugenberger, "The Servant of the Lord in the 'Servant Songs' of Isaiah: A Second Moses Figure", in The Lord's Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts. Satterwhite, Hess, and GJ Wenham (eds). PaternosterBaker:1995, p118]

 

Now, in post-biblical literature, there is a huge superstructure of eschatological vision, based upon a much smaller mass of biblical texts.

 

There is a large number of biblical texts describing a future Davidic king, a smaller number of texts speaking of the eschatological prophet (and fore-runner), and an even smaller number of texts describing an eschatological figure with priestly functions (or titles).

 

Sometimes in the post-biblical literature we have multiple figures: we have two Messiahs (i.e. ben David, ben Joseph) and we might have two eschatological priests (i.e. the ‘normal one’ and David, who is given in Psalm 110 a Melchizidekian priesthood). The eschatological prophet and the fore-runner were sometimes confused, but are likewise often maintained as separate individuals (e.g. as portrayed in the NT—Jesus the prophet and John the Baptist as the fore-runner).

 

 

On the eschatological priest, the data from the Hebrew bible is sparse, but this did not restrict the amount of theological reflection, speculation, and expectation surrounding this figure!

 

The basic texts that pointed to such a figure (and such a non-Levitical priesthood) are these:

 

The main one -- in a psalm cited by Jesus, the apostles, and the author of Hebrews -- is Psalm 110, verse 4:

 

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

 

This somehow refers back to the only Biblical reference/mention of Melchizedek in Genesis.

 

"Like v. 3, v. 4 has its share of uncertainties as well. Like v. 1, it is an oracle, but it is not clear who is speaking. While some scholars suggest that the newly crowned king now addresses the high priest, it is more likely that the addressee is still the king. That he is called a priest is surprising perhaps, but not too unusual. The king officiated at liturgical functions (see 1 Kings 8); Melchizedek (king of pre-Israelite Jerusalem) is identified in Gen 14:18 as both priest and king (if, indeed, Melchizedek here is intended to be a proper name; see the NRSV note)." [Mccann, J. C., Jr. (1994–2004). The Book of Psalms. In L. E. Keck (Ed.), New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. 4, p. 1130). Nashville: Abingdon Press.]

 

 In this tiny passage (Gen 14.18-20), Melchizedek (Mx) is a royal-priest (of Jerusalem) and blesses Abram (and receives tithes from him!):

 

And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.

 

The author of the NT book of Hebrews makes much of this point (7.1-11):

 

This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. 2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.

 

4 Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle. 5 Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham. 6 But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. 7 And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed.

 

8 The priests who collect tithes are men who die, so Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on. 9 In addition, we might even say that these Levites—the ones who collect the tithe—paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him. 10 For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.

 

11 So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron?

 

 

We have two other data points which point to the eschatological priest, and somewhat to his royal character--mingling the messianic roles:

 

Zech 4.3, 4:12, and 6:13:

 

(4.3) And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl. (4.11)Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, 12 and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?” 13 “Don’t you know?” he asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. 14 Then he said to me, “They represent the two anointed ones who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.”

 

The 'two anointed ones' are understood by many commentators as referring to the king (Zerubbabel) and the high priest (Joshua):

 

(at 4.3) "Possibly the two olive trees stand for the priestly and royal offices in Israel. Undoubtedly the two olive branches (vv.12, 14) represent Joshua-Israel (ch. 3) and Zerubbabel (ch. 4; cf. v.14). According to v.12, each of the two olive trees has an olive branch beside a golden pipe that pours out golden oil. The olive oil is conducted directly from the trees to the bowl of oil at the top of the lampstand—without any human agency (“might” or “power,” v.6). Similarly, Zerubbabel and Joshua are to bear continual testimony for God’s glory and are to do God’s work—e.g., on the temple and in the lives of the people—in the power of his Spirit (v.6). This combination of the priestly and royal lines and functions is apparently intended to point ultimately to the messianic King-Priest and his offices and functions (cf. 6:13)."

 

(at 4.11-14): "The answer to the prophet’s inquiry comes in v.14, where the two olive branches are implicitly identified as Zerubbabel, a member of the line of David, and Joshua. In the light of the context (chs. 3–4), they must be “the two who are anointed to serve the Lord.” In the Hebrew text they are designated as “sons of oil,” but NIV has accurately captured the sense (“anointed” as God’s appointed leaders). Both priest and ruler were anointed for service to the Lord and the covenant community. The oil takes us back again to v.6 (“by my Spirit”). It has already been suggested in the comment at v.3 that this combination of ruler and priest is evidently intended to point ultimately to the messianic King-Priest (cf. 6:13; Ps 110; Heb 7). In keeping with one of the key ideas of the chapter (viz., bearing testimony), only the messianic King-Priest may be acknowledged as the perfectly “faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:14). Finally, since God was declared to be “the Lord of all the earth,” he was master of all the circumstances in which Zerubbabel and the people found themselves. [EBC]

 

Zech 6.12-13 reads like this:

 

Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Here is the man called the Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of the LORD. 13 Yes, he will build the Temple of the LORD. Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne,* and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles.’

 

This is a clear mingling of two eschatological roles in one individual--the royal son of David:

 

"Not only will the messianic Branch build the temple, but he will also have regal splendor, will take his seat on his throne and rule, and will perfectly combine the two offices of king and priest. The clause at the end of v.12 is repeated at the beginning of v.13 for emphasis, particularly to stress the fact that “it is he” (“he” is also emphatic in the Hebrew; hence NIV’s reading), namely, the Branch, not Joshua, who will build the temple. NIV has captured the sense of the idiom in the second clause of the verse, though “he will bear regal splendor” would be a more literal translation. As Perowne (p. 97) points out, the Branch will be clothed with “royal majesty, as the word is used [in] Dan. xi. 21; 1 Chron. xxix. 25” (emphasis his). “Will sit” means “will sit enthroned” (cf. BDB, p. 442, 1.a). “His throne” refers to the promised Davidic throne (2 Sam 7:16; Isa 9:7; Luke 1:32). As to the prediction that the Branch “will be a priest on his throne,” Baldwin (Zechariah, p. 137) observes: “Nowhere else in the Old Testament is it made so plain that the coming Davidic king will also be a priest.” One possible exception is Psalm 110. --- The clause at the end of the verse means that the messianic Branch will combine the two offices of king and priest in full accord. As Ellis (p. 1035) puts it, the prophecy looks “forward to a time when kingly and priestly rule are combined in one.” Apparently passages like this caused the priestly sect of Qumran to expect two messianic figures “at the end of the days”: (1) the eschatological high priest-Messiah of the line of Phinehas (cf. Num 25:10–13) and (2) the eschatological son-of-David Messiah (2 Sam 7). Thus they were expecting a priestly Messiah and a kingly Messiah, with the priestly one ranked above the kingly one. [Barker, K. L. (1986). Zechariah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 640). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

 "In this majesty He will sit upon His throne and rule, also using His regal dignity and power for the good of His people, and will be a Priest upon His throne, i.e., will be at once both Priest and King upon the throne which He assumes. The rendering, “And there will be a priest upon His throne” (Ewald and Hitzig), is precluded by the simple structure of the sentences, and still more by the strangeness of the thought which it expresses; for the calling of a priest in relation to God and the people is not to sit upon a throne, but to stand before Jehovah (cf. Judg. 20:28; Deut. 17:12). Even the closing words of this verse, “And a counsel of peace will be between them both,” do not compel us to introduce a priest sitting upon the throne into the text by the side of the Tsemach ruling upon His throne. שְׁנֵיהֶם cannot be taken as a neuter in the sense of “between the regal dignity of the Messiah and His priesthood” (Capp., Ros.), and does not even refer to the Tsemach and Jehovah, but to the Mōshēl and Kōhēn, who sit upon the throne, united in one person, in the Tsemach. Between these two there will be ’ătsath shâlōm. This does not merely mean, “the most perfect harmony will exist” (Hofmann, Umbreit), for that is a matter of course, and does not exhaust the meaning of the words. ’Atsath shâlōm, counsel of peace, is not merely peaceful, harmonious consultation, but consultation which has peace for its object; and the thought is the following: The Messiah, who unites in Himself royalty and priesthood, will counsel and promote the peace of His people." [Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 10, p. 555). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.]

 

"This merges the offices of king (associated with David and the tribe of Judah, 2 Sam 7:12–16) and priest (associated with Aaron and the tribe of Levi, Exod 29:44). The combination of the roles of king and priest in a single individual was anticipated in the figure of the king-priest Melchizedek (Ps 110:4). According to the NT, this dual role of priest and king is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah (Heb 5:5–6; 7:15–22). … More than this, one cannot escape the meaning of the clause “serve as priest from his throne” (6:13) as just that—a priestly figure ruling from a throne (cf. Meyers and Meyers 1987:361). There is no record, biblical or extrabiblical, that Jeshua ever ruled from a throne as high priest (i.e., there appears to have been no literal fulfillment). Beyond this, only Jeshua the high priest is granted the privilege of a place in the divine council of God (3:7), and only he and the other priests are designated as a “symbol” of things to come—namely the Branch (3:8). The symbolic-action oracle concluding the vision sequence explains this typological relationship between Jeshua and the Branch. Jeshua is presented as the “Branch” who will complete the building of the second Temple (6:12a), but he will also “branch out from where he is” (6:12b). The literal meaning of this expression may be rendered “from under him someone will sprout up” (cf. Meyers and Meyers 1987:355). This means the immediate antecedent of the pronoun “he” (6:13) is the one who sprouts out of Jeshua—the Branch previously identified in the fourth vision (3:8). This figure will wear two crowns (or one double crown)—the symbols of kingship and priesthood—“and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles” (6:13b). It should be noted that the logical referent to the “two roles” (lit., “the two of them”; shenehem [TH8147/1992.1, ZH9109/2157]) are the two thrones of the immediate context of 6:13. Such a declaration should not surprise us because this development was anticipated in the Psalms with the introduction of the king-priest who would rule after the manner of both David and Melchizedek (Ps 110:2, 4). The New Testament identifies Jesus Christ as this Branch who is both king and priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7:1, 15). It would seem that the “Temple” this Branch ultimately builds is the “true place of worship”—the “heavenly Tabernacle” built by Jesus the Messiah through his death and resurrection (John 2:19; Heb 8:2)." [Patterson, R. D., & Hill, A. E. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi (pp. 557–558). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers." [Patterson, R. D., & Hill, A. E. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi (p. 556). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.]

 

 

A key rabbinic witness to the understanding of this figure as an eschatological priest (although not mingling it with the Davidic messiah--but coming close via identifying Mx with David) is discussed by Flusser:

 

"But one of the most important rabbinic witnesses pertinent to these comparisons is without doubt a passage from the treatise Aboth de Rabbi Nathan: “Similarly with the verse: ‘These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth’ (Zech 4:14). This is a reference to Aaron and the Messiah, but I cannot tell which is the more beloved. However, from the verse: ‘The Lord hath sworn and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4)’, one can tell that the messianic king is more beloved than the Priest of Righteousness (i.e., the messianic high priest). The general meaning is clear, but we can only guess how Ps 110:4 is here interpreted. The name Melchizedek was understood as a hint to the Davidic Messiah, the King of Righteousness: he will be a “righteous king” (Ps Sal 17:35, cf. 17:28, 31, 45 and III Sib 704, and see Is 11:4 and Jer 23:5; 33:15). It seems to be practically sure that according to our midrash also the other, less beloved eschatological saviour is envisaged by Ps 110:4, namely, the latter day priest, about whom it is said: “Thou art a priest for ever.” But it is not easy to answer the question how the author interpreted the biblical verse in order to show the superiority of the Davidic Messiah over the eschatological Priest of Righteousness. The key-word is the Hebrew al dibrati: the translation “after the manner” is that of the Greek Bible. The Aramaic translator understood: “because of”; another midrash (b. Ned 32b, Billerbeck IV, p. 453) interpreted this difficult Hebrew phrase: “because of the words of Melchizedek”. Thus it is possible that the author of our passage wanted to say that the eschatological Priest of Righteousness will become a priest for ever “because (of the words) of the King of Righteousness” (Malkhi-Zedek), i.e., the Davidic Messiah, and this shows the superiority of the messianic king over the priestly Messiah who depends on the Davidic Messiah. Whatever may be the exegetical method of our author, it is clear that he meant that the name Melchizedek in Ps 110:4 hints at the Davidic Messiah." [Flusser, D. (1988). Judaism and the origins of Christianity (pp. 257–258). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.]

 

 

 

The passage in Zech 2.3 was taken by the rabbi's to be a reference to an eschatological priest (whom was apparently identified with Mx: "In rabbinic sources he [Mx] is the righteous priest who takes his place with the Messiahs of David and Joseph and with Elijah. [Suk. 52b.]", Sarna, N. M. (1989). Genesis (p. 380). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.)

 

Sarna's reference to Suk 52b points to a text that identifies 4 separate eschatological figures. Here's the passage from the Talmud (Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 5b, p. 217). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. (Suk 52.b), II.16):

 

 

A.      “And the Lord showed me four craftsmen” (Zech. 2:3Heb; 1.20ENG):

B.      Who were the four craftsmen?

C.      Said R. Hana bar Bizna said R. Simeon the Pious, “The Messiah, son of David, and the Messiah, son of Joseph, and Elijah, and the righteous priest.”

D.      R. Sheshet objected, “If so, then what about the verse of Scripture, ‘And he said to me, These are the horns which scattered Judah’ (Zech. 2:4). These [horns] are the ones who had come to restore [Israel’s condition, and not to afflict them]!”

 E.      He said to him, “Go on to the end of the verse, ‘These then are come to frighten them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the Land of Judah, to scatter it’ (Zech. 2:4). [Slotki, p. 251, n. 11: This shows that the ‘horns’ refer to the enemies of Israel and not to the craftsmen.]”

F.      He said to him, “What do I need to get involved with Hana in matters of [interpretation] of scriptural lore!” 

 

One can see that this interpretation by Hana was not a 'consensus' view, but it does show the belief in a scripture-based eschatological priest-figure.

 

There are also hints of priestly function by 'the prince' in Ezekiel, but these are widely disputed. The prince is held by some to offer sacrifice himself (even with priests there), while other commentators maintain that the address is to Ezekiel or some eschatological prophet (distinct from priests).

 

The passage reads (in Eng):

 

Thus says the Lord GOD: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take [SINGULAR] a bull from the herd without blemish, and purify [SINGULAR] the sanctuary. 19 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and the posts of the gate of the inner court. 20 You [SINGULAR] shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you [PLURAL] shall make atonement for the temple.

 

Those who see it as the Prince:

 

"In both verses the main verbs are in the second person singular, with the exception of כּיפַּרְתֶּם (kippartem, “you are to make atonement”), which is second person plural. This clarifies that it is the prince who actually makes the offering, though in doing so he represents all the people. When he makes atonement for the temple, the people also purify the temple through his representation." [Alexander, R. H. (1986). Ezekiel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel (Vol. 6, p. 984). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

"A further emphasis in this passage (and also in 46:1–12; cf. 43:3; 45:16–17) is the cultic role of the head of state both in his own right and as representative of “the people of the land.” He is described largely from a cultic perspective. He is given a position of privilege over against the people (43:1; 46:2, 8) and functions as the representative of the people in presenting sacrifices (45:16–17, 22–25)" [Allen, L. C. (1998). Ezekiel 20–48 (Vol. 29, p. 266). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

 

"The prince is to offer a bull as a sin offering and place the blood on the doorposts of the sanctuary, the four corners of the altar, and the gateposts of the inner court (v. 19). The same ceremony is to be repeated in the seventh month for anyone who had committed unknown or unintentional sins (v. 20…)." [Cooper, L. E. (1994). Ezekiel (Vol. 17, p. 401). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.]

 

Or as Ezekiel himself (or the eschatological version of him):

 

"Second, Ezekiel’s role compares with that of Moses in the inauguration of the tabernacle worship. The vacillation between singular and plural verbs creates some tension, but one may assume that singular forms in vv. 18 and 20a prescribe activities for the prophet himself, whereas the plural in v. 20b associates him with the priest (mentioned in v. 19) and with the Israelites as a whole. …   Indeed, on the Day of Atonement only the high priest entered the tabernacle to perform the purification rites. Ezekiel’s Torah provides no hints that he is to function as the high priest. On the contrary, texts such as 43:18–27 carefully distinguish the prophet’s role from those of the priests. Moreover, chs. 40–48 consistently present him as a new Moses, rather than a new Aaron." [Block, D. I. (1997–). The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (p. 662). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.]

 

"In this connection it is noteworthy that the taking of the animal and the completion of the “cleansing” (חטא) is certainly, as in 43:20, to be the task of the prophet addressed in the second person singular; the completion of the actual blood rite, however, is in the hands of the priest who is introduced (by contrast with 43:18ff*) in the singular." [Zimmerli, W., Cross, F. M., & Baltzer, K. (1979–). Ezekiel: a commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (p. 483). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.]

 

"Verse 18 states that “you” (Ezekiel?) must take a young bull without blemish (see also 43:20 where “you”, ostensibly Ezekiel, participates in the purification/consecration of the altar). The priest (“he”) then applies some of its blood (…) to the doorposts of the Temple, the four sides of the ledge of the altar (cf. 43:20), and an unspecified gate of the inner court. This same procedure is to be repeated on the seventh day of month…" [Darr, K. P. (1994–2004). The Book of Ezekiel. In L. E. Keck (Ed.), New Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. 6, p. 1585). Nashville: Abingdon Press.]

 

In either event, somebody other than the priest performs SOME PART of the priestly function (but not all)--either a 'head of state' or a 'prophet' (Ezekiel, of course, was both prophet AND priest himself--albeit not the 'high priest' necessary for Day of Atonement work).

 

These are the main texts that point to an eschatological priest, and some of these passages seem to mingle other eschatological functions/figures in with it (i.e., towards a 'royal priesthood' or a 'priestly king').

 

Eschatological/Messianic Role Overlap

 

One of the challenges in identifying the 'warranted expectations' derived on these Hebrew texts is that many of the messianic/eschatological roles overlap in function. Priestly functions may be ascribed to a king--but does that mean we are to expect a Royal Priest or a Priestly King? Prophetic functions may be ascribed to a priestly figure--but does that mean we are to expect a Priestly Prophet or a Prophetic Priest (cf: "Ezekiel presents another side of a model that is unique among the prophets. In him both the offices of prophet and priest were juxtaposed."--"Ezekiel, Bridge Between The Testaments",  C. Hassell Bullock , JETS 25/1) ?

 

To the case in point, here are overlapping eschatological functions that include some priestly functions:

 

One: The announcer of the Jubilee (Is 61--which Jesus applied to Himself on a couple of occasions), also connected with the Danielic 'Son of Man' and judge:

 

"The Qumran community seems to have understood Melchizedek as a heavenly figure. The fragmentary scroll 11Q13 interprets, among other texts, Lev. 25:9–13, a passage dealing with the Jubilee Year. In 11Q13 the last “Jubilee” is called the “year of grace of Melchizedek,” in which Melchizedek is said to bring freedom from the debt of sins and atonement to the sons of light, defeating Belial and his evil spirits. Here we read, “But Melchizedek will carry out the vengeance of Go[d’s] judgments, [and on that day he will fr]e[e them from the hand of] Belial and from the hand of all the sp[irits of his lot]” (11Q13 II, 13)." Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos."

 

"The most prominent development of the Melchizedek traditions in Qumran literature are found in a thematic midrash (pesher) known as 11QMelchizedek (11Q13; van der Woude 1965). The midrash is quite fragmentary, with only one column of text well represented. It was apparently organized around Isaiah 61, which is cited repeatedly (see lines 4, 9, 14, 19–20). The passage from Isaiah raises the issue of the release (citing Lev 25:13; Deut 15:2), which points to the ten Jubilee periods that will end in “the day of the vengeance of ˒elōhênû.” Although the plain sense would suggest that ˒elōhênû means “our God,” the Qumran interpreter takes it as a reference to Melchizedek (note lines 24–25), citing passages where he understands ˒ elōhı̂m to refer to the holy angels who will judge the fallen angels (Pss 82:1; 7:8–9; 82:2; Is 52:7). Melchizedek is presented as the judge of both the saints of God and the fallen angels." [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 694). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"Finally, when we consider the material from Qumran, we find that the high priest’s role on the Day of Atonement also provides the background for the Melchizedek figure of 11QMelchizedek.99 In this text, it is expected that the heavenly high priest will effect atonement on the tenth Jubilee: “And this thing will [occur] in the first week of the Jubilee that follows the nine Jubilees. And the Day of Atonement is the e[nd of the] tenth [Ju]bilee, when all the Sons of [Light] and the men of the lot of Mel[chi]zedek will be atoned for.” In the text it is also stated that Melchizedek will judge the holy ones of God (quoting Ps 82:1–2), and that “this is the day of [Peace/Salvation] concerning which [God] spoke [through Isa]iah the prophet” (quoting Isa 52:7; other quotations include Dan 9:25 and Isa 6:2–3). Barker comments: 'Daniel’s prophecy of the Great Atonement, which would put an end to sin and destroy both Jerusalem and the temple, reckons seventy weeks of years from “the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (Dan 9:25). Seventy weeks of years, 490 years, can also be reckoned as ten Jubilees, and in the Melchizedek text (11QMelch) there is a similar expectation of the Great Atonement and Judgement after ten Jubilees.'  In the Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521 fragment 2 ii) it is the messiah who again has the central role; and here it is expected that heaven and earth will obey the messiah and that his role will involve: “releasing captives, giving sight to the blind and raising up those who are bo[wed down] … for he will heal the wounded, give life to the dead and preach good news to the poor and he will [sat]isfy the [weak] ones and lead those who have been cast out and enrich the hungry.”" [Lucass, S. (2011). The Concept of the Messiah in the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. (L. L. Grabbe, Ed.) (Vol. 78, pp. 138–139). London; New York: T & T Clark International.]

 

"Finally, 11Q Melchizedek interprets Isa. 61:1 eschatologically and appears to identify the ‘herald’ of Isa. 61:1 with the heavenly redeemer Melchizedek—a royal-priestly figure." -- but footnote adds: "The reference is disputed. Sanders,(), identifies the מבשד as Melchizedek (), while de Jonge and van der Woude,() and F.L. Horton, (), consider him to be a second prophetic figure (the eschatological prophet of 1QS 9.11?). Since in lines 5–6 it appears to be Melchizedek who will ‘proclaim liberty to them’ (וקרא להמה דרר [jubilee language]; Isa. 61:1; Lev. 25:10; Jer. 34:8), i.e. who will fulfill the role of the prophet-herald of Isa. 61:1, it seems likely that he is also the ‘herald’ (מבשר) (Isa. 52:7) and the ‘anointed one of the Spirit’ (Isa. 61:1) who ‘announces salvation’ (Isa. 52:7) in lines 15–19." [Strauss, M. L. (1995). The Davidic Messiah in Luke–Acts: The Promise and its Fulfillment in Lukan Christology (Vol. 413). Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press.]

 

Two: A Priest with Royal (and/or "Princely" or "Davidic") Functions

 

"Philo interprets the reference to Salem as Melchizedek being “king of peace,” as does Heb. 7:2. Here Melchizedek is the ideal priest-king—a priest who has his own priesthood and a king who rules by righteousness, and, finally, a symbol for the Logos." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos.]

 

"The proclamation of the Davidic king as “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” has its background in David’s conquest of Jerusalem about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. As a consequence of that victory, David and his descendants became heirs of Melchizedek’s dynasty of priest-kings.  Jesus and his first followers understood this psalm to be a prophecy concerning the Messiah, and the author of Hebrews is especially focused on the fact that Psalm 100 shows that Jesus, as Messiah, was appointed priest by a divine proclamation." [Arnold, C. E. (2002). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Hebrews to Revelation. (Vol. 4, p. 33). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan]

 

"In Ps. 110:4 a Davidic king is acclaimed by divine oath as ‘a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’. The background of this acclamation is provided by David’s conquest of Jerusalem c. 1000 BC, by virtue of which David and his house became heirs to Melchizedek’s dynasty of priest-kings. The king so acclaimed was identified by Jesus and his contemporaries as the Davidic Messiah (Mk. 12:35ff.)." [Bruce, F. F. (1996). Melchizedek. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 749). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"The only other mention of Melchizedek in the OT occurs in Ps. 110:4, where the Lord (Yahweh) addresses David’s Lord (’āḏôn) with the acclamation: “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Ps. 110:4 thus intimates that the priest-king of messianic expectation would be installed in a new non-Aaronic sacerdotal order patterned after that of Melchizedek of old. In both the pre-Christian and early Christian eras the Psalm-text was interpreted by the Jews in a messianic sense." [Demarest, B. A. (1986). Melchizedek, Salem. L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), New international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vol. 2, p. 590). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

"From a passage in Aboth de Rabbi Nathan, we have learned that this very biblical verse could be used in order to show the inferiority of the priestly Messiah in comparison with the Son of David. He is there named Melchizedek, i.e., the king of righteousness. Such an interpretation of Ps 110:4 would be practically impossible if the biblical Melchizedek were a Levitical priest, because David was not an offspring of a priestly family. Therefore, in the rabbinic text the Son of David could be called “Melchizedek” and in the Epistle to the Hebrews Jesus is “a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek”." [Flusser, D. (1988). Judaism and the origins of Christianity (p. 259). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.]

 

"While the gospel writers do not develop the priestly character of Jesus’ person and ministry, the concept is at least present and Hebrews fully develops it. Jesus himself’ quotes from Ps 110:1 to indicate the problematic nature of the Messiah’s Davidic sonship (Mark 12:35–37). The psalm contains the only reference outside of Genesis 14 to the high priest Melchizedek, and the presupposition is that the psalmist was speaking of a priestly Messiah. “Sitting at the right hand” is connected with the idea of the priest-king after the order of Melchizedek. In Mark 14:62 when Jesus stood before the high priest and was questioned by him, he answered with a statement about the great High Priest, combining the thought of Dan 7:13 and Ps 110:1. To the question, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61), he replied: “I am; and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). Cullmann rightly concludes that Jesus considered it his task to fulfill the priestly office." ["Ezekiel, Bridge Between The Testaments", C. Hassell Bullock, The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. (electronic edition/1998.). Garland, TX: Galaxie Software. JETS 25/1 (March 1982) 24]

 

"In the Testament of Levi we find a passage about the Anointed and his priestly role that uses language which creates similar allusions:' Then shall the Lord raise up a new priest …And he shall execute a righteous judgment upon the earth for a multitude of days. And his star shall arise in heaven as of a king, Lighting up the light of knowledge as the sun the day, And he shall be magnified in the world.      He shall shine forth as the sun on the earth, And shall remove all darkness from under heaven, And there shall be peace in all the earth …'" [Lucass, S. (2011). The Concept of the Messiah in the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. (L. L. Grabbe, Ed.) (Vol. 78, pp. 124–128). London; New York: T & T Clark International.]

 

"That the ‘herald’ of 11QMelch has royal features is also suggested by the end of line 18, which appears to refer to Daniel and so probably identifies the ‘herald’ and ‘anointed one’ as the ‘anointed prince’ (משיח נגיד) of Dan. 9:25. G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (3rd edn, 1987), p. 301, reconstructs the text: ‘and the messenger (מבשר) is the Anointed one of the Spirit, concerning whom Dan[iel] said, [Until an anointed one, a prince …]’ (Dan. 9:25) (). An allusion to Dan. 9:25 fits the context well since the ‘seventy weeks of years’ of Dan. 9:24–27 are alluded to in line 7." [ Strauss, M. L. (1995). The Davidic Messiah in Luke–Acts: The Promise and its Fulfillment in Lukan Christology (Vol. 413). Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press.]

 

Three: A priest who is unique, super-human, angelic, "heavenly", quasi-divine, and/or eternal.

 

" It seems that Melchizedek is some type of heavenly figure in this scroll fragment from the Qumran community, perhaps an exalted angel, and the Qumran literature uses Melchizedek quite differently than does Hebrews (Lane 1991: 1:160–61). In the first-century book of 2 Enoch (71–72) Melchizedek also is a heavenly figure. In this work Melchizedek is saved from the flood so he can continue a line of priests started with Seth. Michael takes the child Melchizedek to paradise, where he is to be a priest forever." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos.]

 

"The earliest and most extensive extra-biblical tradition about Melchizedek is found in 2 Enoch 71–72 (A and J manuscripts…). Melchizedek is described as born “fully developed” as a three-year old. He has the mark of the high priesthood on him from birth and must be hidden lest the wicked kill him. God, through the agency of an archangel, hides the child Melchizedek in the garden of Eden for seven years. This child is finally placed at the head of the high priests of the future in the “center of the earth where Adam was created” (2 Enoch 71:35[J]). In these texts Melchizedek is a title. There are multiple Melchizedeks “according to the order of Melchizedek,” though the greatest of these is the aforementioned." [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 693). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

 

"Elsewhere in late Jewish literature Melchizedek was variously interpreted as an incarnate angel who performed priestly functions, as the archangel Michael, or as an idealized high priest of the messianic age (kōhēn-ṣeḏeq) who emerges alongside the messiah." [Demarest, B. A. (1986). Melchizedek, Salem. L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), New international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vol. 2, p. 591). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

"It is true that it is difficult to find in the rabbinic sources a parallel to the wondrous carrier of Melchizedek, a mythical biography which we are able to reconstruct with the help of the Slavonic Enoch and a fragment from Qumran, where Melchizedek, as we believe, is identified with the Essene priestly Messiah (…). Melchizedek became a pre-existent and immortal being; he was thought as having been begotten in his mother’s womb by the Word of God, and there were those who expected him to ascend the heaven and to be the judge to the Latter Days, when he, together with celestial powers, will vindicate the judgment of God so that the righteous would become his lot and heritage." [Flusser, D. (1988). Judaism and the origins of Christianity (pp. 269–271). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.]

 

"There are, however, hints in other texts of this period that the high priest was “in some way” understood to have an angelic/divine nature. One of the texts cited in this respect is that of Hecataeus of Abdera quoted in Diodorus, who states that when the high priest (archierea), who is a messenger (aggelos) of God’s commands, “expounds the commandments to them,” the people fall down to the ground and do reverence to him. According to Fletcher-Louis, the high priest is understood here to somehow embody or represent the creator God, and this is reflected in his role in the cult which we will consider below. --- At Qumran, in 11QMelchizedek, Melchizedek is an “exalted figure,” a “god-like being” who will atone for the sins of the people; in col. 2.9 Melchizedek’s name is substituted for that of “the Lord” “in the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isa 61:2). Psalm 82:1 is applied to Melchizedek: “Elohim [God] takes his stand in the assembly of El, in the midst of Elohim [gods] he judges.” The text is fragmentary but has been restored to read “our god is Melchizedek.” Collins comments “this may seem to be a very bold restoration, but in fact Melchizedek had already been identified with the Elohim, or god, of Ps 82. In the view of this interpreter, the Most High god is El. Elohim is a lesser deity, an angel, if you prefer.” Melchizedek has also been associated with the figure who claims to be enthroned in heaven in 4Q491 (the “Self-Exaltation Hymn”), who, it has been suggested, may in fact be the eschatological high priest. Although in the text as we have it Melchizedek is not expressly entitled “priest,” the association with the figure in Gen 14:8 would suggest this. Furthermore, as Collins has stated, the fact that “his activity culminates on the Day of Atonement” is also suggestive of this. --- Aristeas speaks in awe of the “other-worldliness” of the high priest on his return from the Holy of Holies: “The overall appearance of these things created awe and confusion so as to make one think that he has come close to another man from outside the world,” which again suggests a change in status in the high priest as he functions in the cult. Hayward suggests that the high priest “may even have the character of an angel.” Furthermore, it is proposed that within the cult the high priest in his “garments of glory” represented the Glory of God. This was also a feature of later tradition: “The rabbis record the tradition that Aaron’s garments are those of God himself” (Gen. Rab. 38:8; cf. y. Yoma 7:3, 44b; Lev. Rab. 21:11). --- Philo also suggests that the high priest is bordering on divinity when he enters the Holy of Holies: '… if one is to speak the real truth, he is a sort of nature bordering on God, inferior indeed to him, but superior to man; “for when,” the scriptures say, “the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies he will not be a man.” What then will he be if he is not a man? Will he be God?… [B]ut he touches both these extremities …'" Lucass, S. (2011). The Concept of the Messiah in the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. (L. L. Grabbe, Ed.) (Vol. 78, pp. 124–128). London; New York: T & T Clark International.]

 

 

Four: A Priest who judges--in both a cultic and royal sense-- in 'warrior/Phineas' style:

 

We have already seen multiple passages above that expect this eschatological/messianic priest figure to perform forensic, legal, justice, and enforcement actions. In most of the Hebrew bible/Torah, judgment was shared between the priesthood (think: Phineas at Peor in Num 25,7), tribal (think: the legal process involving manslaughter and the Cities of Refuge; and the elders at Peor in Num 25.5), prophetic (think: Samuel and Agag) and royal figures (think: Solomon's removal of Abiathar from the priesthood and execution of Joab).

 

But judgment was not a native function of the priesthood. Consider Deut 17.8ff:

 

"Suppose a case arises in a local court that is too hard for you to decide—for instance, whether someone is guilty of murder or only of manslaughter, or a difficult lawsuit, or a case involving different kinds of assault. Take such legal cases to the place the LORD your God will choose, and present them to the Levitical priests or the judge on duty at that time."

 

Commentators point out that this judgement role of the priesthood is a novelty:

 

"Because of ambiguities in the Hebrew, it is not clear whether the high court has one lay judge or more; whether it must always include both priests and lay judges; and whether or not all cases are heard by both types of judge acting together. Jehoshaphat’s court included lay judges, priests, and Levites. It was chaired by either a layman or a priest, depending on whether the case concerned secular or ritual law. According to halakhic exegesis, based on Numbers 11:16–17, the high court has seventy-one members; it should include some priests and Levites, but its rulings are valid even if it does not. The previous books of the Torah—including Leviticus and Numbers, which deal with the priests in detail—do not assign priests a regular judicial role. Priests become involved only when insoluble cases must be referred to God by sacral means that they administer, namely oaths, the Urim and Thummim, and ritual ordeals. According to Deuteronomy the priests also have a role in local civil and criminal cases (see 19:17; 21:5; and perhaps 33:10). However, since none of the sacral methods is mentioned by Deuteronomy, it probably expects the priests to decide cases by secular means based on reasoning. --- It is not clear why Deuteronomy assigns the priests a role in civil and criminal cases; nor do we understand why it gives them a role on the high court." [Tigay, J. H. (1996). Deuteronomy (p. 164). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.]

 

Judgment was generally in the hands of secular leadership--not generally the Levitical priests:

 

"The judge undertook a variety of tasks, mostly in legal and judicial areas but at times in political areas as well. In the patriarchal period the elders of the tribes decided disputes. Moses appointed other judges to assist him, taking only the difficult cases himself (Ex 18:13–26; Dt 1:9–17). Samuel went on circuit judging cases (1 Sm 7:16, 17); his sons became judges, too (1 Sm 8:1). During the monarchy period the office of judge was well established. The king himself heard hard cases (1 Kgs 3:16–28; 7:7; 1 Chr 18:14; Prv 20:8). Some cases were heard at the city gate (Ex 18:13; Ru 4:11). Each party presented his plea to the judge (Dt 1:16; 25:1) and witnesses were called (Nm 35:30; Dt 17:6; 19:15). In difficult cases the judge sought for a word from God (Lv 24:12; Nm 15:34). Absalom sought to usurp this right from David (2 Sm 15:2–6). Local courts developed in time (1 Chr 23:4; 26:29). Israel’s problem was ensuring strict justice; the prophets often complained of bribery and corruption in this office (Is 1:23; 5:23; 10:1; Am 5:12; 6:12; Mi 3:11; 7:3)." [Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 2087–2088). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.]

 

"As Judge par excellence and king (Jer 21:12; 22:16; Ps 72:2; Prov 31:5, 8, 9) God appointed human judges who deputized for him in the administration of justice. In many ancient communities, advanced age was a status position, which symbolized one’s authority reflected in his wisdom based on his experience with life. Thus a tribal leader (Gen 49:16), or a high priest (Zech 3:7) or one who achieved the status of leadership by virtue of military valor, e.g., a premonarchical judge, was expected also to decide cases as a judge. Similarly, by virtue of his position, the king was expected to judge (špṭ), i.e., dispense justice (mišpāṭ) by protecting the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger against exploitation by the rich or the strong. Thus the phrase ʿāsāh mišpāṭ ûṣĕdāqāh, “to execute justice and righteousness,” refers to the maintenance or restoration of justice and equity among the citizens of his state." [Mafico, T. L. J. (1992). Judge, Judging. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 1105). New York: Doubleday.]

 

"Among the early Israelites, the elders of the tribes, and subsequently the elders of the locality, administered justice. Acting upon the advice of Jethro, Moses selected “able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens; and they judged the people at all seasons: the more important [A. V. “hard”] causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves” (Ex. 18:25, 26; comp. Deut. 1:15). It is also recorded that Moses once appointed Aaron and Hur to act as chief judges in his absence (Ex. 24:14). The judge was considered a sacred person; seeking a decision at law was called “inquiring of God” (Ex. 18:15). Moses is often represented as bringing a case to God before rendering a decision (Ex. 18:19; comp. Num. 15:34, 35; 27:5). --- After the Israelites settled in Canaan the system introduced by Moses seems to have fallen into desuetude, because there was no union among the tribes. The military rulers of the people in the time of the Judges probably assumed control over the administration of justice. Samuel is recorded as having traveled from place to place judging Israel, while his headquarters were at Ramah (1 Sam. 7:15–17, 12:3; comp. Judges 5:10), and his sons judged the people at Beer-sheba (1 Sam. 8:2). --- With the establishment of the monarchy the king and his officers were naturally regarded as the supreme authority and the final court of appeals (2 Sam. 12:1–16, 15:2, 16:5–9). Solomon was considered “to have the wisdom of God in him to do judgment” (1 Kings 3:28). Although David is recorded as having appointed 6,000 Levites as judges and officers (1 Chron. 23:4, 26:29), the organization of courts of justice in accordance with the Deuteronomic code (Deut. 16:18, 17:8–13) was not effected until the time of Jehoshaphat. He established courts all over Palestine, and appointed two chief justices—a priest over ecclesiastical affairs, and a “nagid” (the ruler of the house of Judah) over temporal affairs (2 Chron. 19:4–11). In Jerusalem the royal judges soon superseded the elders (Jer. 26:11); but in the smaller communities the elders still continued to exercise their wonted authority (Isa. 3:14; 2 Kings 23:1). On the return of the Jews from Babylon, Ezra was ordered by Artaxerxes to appoint judges “which may judge all the people that are beyond the river” (Ezra 7:25, 26; 10:14)." [Singer, I. (Ed.). (1901–1906). In The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 12 Volumes (Vol. 7, p. 376). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.]

 

So assignment of it--at an eschatological and/or cosmic scale--to a priestly figure would suggest a combo royal-priest figure (of some mix).

 

Five: Priestly figures with more 'general' Messianic denominations, sometimes overshadowing the Davidic figure:

 

"Moreover, there is now an increasing awareness that not all texts found at Qumran were products of the Dead Sea sect, and that some of them may reflect beliefs that were widespread in Judaism at the time. The interpretation of several texts remains in dispute, but it is clear that messianism was a topic of significant interest, even if it was never as central in ancient Judaism as older Christian scholarship had claimed. There was never any orthodoxy on the subject of messianism and the Hebrew word משיח (anointed one) and its cognates could be used in various ways. Yet some ideas and expectations were widely shared. In my own monograph on messianism, The Scepter and the Star, I have argued that we may speak of a common Jewish hope for a royal messiah from the Davidic line and of a distinctive sectarian hope in the Dead Sea Scrolls for a priestly messiah, who would take precedence over the Davidic king. The figure of an eschatological prophet, who might also be called an anointed one, is more elusive and controversial. The Scrolls also provide several instances of a heavenly savior figure (e.g., Melchizedek), who is not called a messiah, although we do find a heavenly messiah in some other Jewish texts, most notably the Similitudes of Enoch." [Collins, J. J. (2006). What Was Distinctive About Messianic Expectation at Qumran? In J. H. Charlesworth (Ed.), The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Volume Two: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community: The Second Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins (p. 73). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.]

 

"The priest ‘anointed for war’ (Deut. 20:2–9, Mishnah, Soṭah 8) is a messianic figure at PRK 5.9 (Mandelbaum, 97) where together with Elijah, king Messiah and Melchizedek he is one of the ‘four carpenters’ of Zech. 2:3 (1:20) who are ‘the flowers’ to ‘appear on the earth’ at the messianic age (Song of Songs 2:12)" [Horbury, W. (2003). Messianism among Jews and Christians : twelve biblical and historical studies (pp. 318–319). London;  New York: T&T Clark.]

 

 

Another indication that this eschatological figure was expected-yet-unprecedented is the conflicting opinions about his nature and identity.

 

Was the eschatological figure expected to be human-only, Spirit-inflamed-human, angelic, divine, or some mixture of these? Opinions were varied, but some identifications were perhaps motivated by Christian-Jewish polemics.

 

There were those who understood this eschatological figure / Melchisidekian figure to be purely human (although the 'anointing' aspect of ANY human leader made their 'nature' somehow 'augmented' or 'mixed'):

 

"The Palestinian Jew turned historian, Flavius Josephus, took a purely human interpretation of Melchizedek. He writes that Abraham “was received by the king of Solyma, Melchizedek, whose name means righteous king, and such he was by common consent, inasmuch as for this reason he was moreover made priest of God; Solyma was in fact the place afterward called Hierosolyma [that is, Jerusalem]” (Josephus Ant. 1.10.2 §180). --- Philo Judaeus lived in Alexandria and was roughly a contemporary with Jesus as well as the later stages of the Qumran community. He also took a strictly this-worldly view of Melchizedek: “God has also made Melchizedek both king of peace, for that is the meaning of Salem, and his own priest.… For he is named ‘the righteous king’ [ = Melchizedek], and a king is one who is opposed to the tyrant; the one is the author of laws, the other of lawlessness” (Philo Leg. All. 3.25–26 §§79–82). --- Both the second-century Aramaic Targum Neofiti and the Fragment Targum identify Melchizedek with Noah’s son Shem in its translation of Genesis 14:18: “The king of Righteousness (Melka-sedek), the king of Jerusalem—he is Shem, the great one—brought out bread and wine, for he was the priest who served in the High Priesthood before the Most High God” (also the later Targum Pseudo-Jonathan). --- Later rabbinic traditions understand the high priesthood to have first been given to Shem-Melchizedek (Gen 14:18–20) but then transferred to Aaron through Abraham. Psalm 110:4 was read, “You [Abraham] are a priest forever” (see b. Zebaḥ. 62a). From manuscripts of b. Sukkah 52b, we learn that Melchizedek is a righteous priest who was apparently translated into heaven and who would reappear in the messianic age. But he is a purely human figure. The connection of the Melchizedek tradition with the traditions about the fallen angels was thus marginalized by rabbinic Judaism, perhaps even in response to the prominence they were given in early Christianity." [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 694). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"Rabbinic Judaism traditionally identified Melchizedek with Shem, the most pious of Noah’s sons. According to R. Ishmael, the priesthood was taken from Melchizedek and transferred to Abraham because the Salemite addressed the patriarch before God (Ned. 32b; Sanh. 108b)." [Demarest, B. A. (1986). Melchizedek, Salem. L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), New international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vol. 2, p. 591). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

 

But we have already noted passages in the literature where Mx is considered super-human, angelic, or quasi-divine:

 

"The Qumran community seems to have understood Melchizedek as a heavenly figure." Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos."

 

"Although the plain sense would suggest that ˒elōhênû means “our God,” the Qumran interpreter takes it as a reference to Melchizedek (note lines 24–25), citing passages where he understands ˒ elōhı̂m to refer to the holy angels who will judge the fallen angels (Pss 82:1; 7:8–9; 82:2; Is 52:7). Melchizedek is presented as the judge of both the saints of God and the fallen angels." [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 694). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

" It seems that Melchizedek is some type of heavenly figure in this scroll fragment from the Qumran community, perhaps an exalted angel, and the Qumran literature uses Melchizedek quite differently than does Hebrews (Lane 1991: 1:160–61). In the first-century book of 2 Enoch (71–72) Melchizedek also is a heavenly figure. " [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.]

 

"Elsewhere in late Jewish literature Melchizedek was variously interpreted as an incarnate angel who performed priestly functions, as the archangel Michael, or as an idealized high priest of the messianic age (kōhēn-ṣeḏeq) who emerges alongside the messiah." [Demarest, B. A. (1986). Melchizedek, Salem. L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), New international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vol. 2, p. 591). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]

 

"It is true that it is difficult to find in the rabbinic sources a parallel to the wondrous carrier of Melchizedek, a mythical biography which we are able to reconstruct with the help of the Slavonic Enoch and a fragment from Qumran, where Melchizedek, as we believe, is identified with the Essene priestly Messiah (…). Melchizedek became a pre-existent and immortal being; " [Flusser, D. (1988). Judaism and the origins of Christianity (pp. 269–271). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.]

 

"There are, however, hints in other texts of this period that the high priest was “in some way” understood to have an angelic/divine nature. One of the texts cited in this respect is that of Hecataeus of Abdera quoted in Diodorus, who states that when the high priest (archierea), who is a messenger (aggelos) of God’s commands, “expounds the commandments to them,” the people fall down to the ground and do reverence to him. According to Fletcher-Louis, the high priest is understood here to somehow embody or represent the creator God, and this is reflected in his role in the cult which we will consider below. --- At Qumran, in 11QMelchizedek, Melchizedek is an “exalted figure,” a “god-like being” who will atone for the sins of the people; in col. 2.9 Melchizedek’s name is substituted for that of “the Lord” “in the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isa 61:2). Psalm 82:1 is applied to Melchizedek: “Elohim [God] takes his stand in the assembly of El, in the midst of Elohim [gods] he judges.” The text is fragmentary but has been restored to read “our god is Melchizedek.” Collins comments “this may seem to be a very bold restoration, but in fact Melchizedek had already been identified with the Elohim, or god, of Ps 82. In the view of this interpreter, the Most High god is El. Elohim is a lesser deity, an angel, if you prefer.”  --- Aristeas speaks in awe of the “other-worldliness” of the high priest on his return from the Holy of Holies: “The overall appearance of these things created awe and confusion so as to make one think that he has come close to another man from outside the world,” which again suggests a change in status in the high priest as he functions in the cult. Hayward suggests that the high priest “may even have the character of an angel.” …  Philo also suggests that the high priest is bordering on divinity when he enters the Holy of Holies: '… if one is to speak the real truth, he is a sort of nature bordering on God, inferior indeed to him, but superior to man; “for when,” the scriptures say, “the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies he will not be a man.” What then will he be if he is not a man? Will he be God?… [B]ut he touches both these extremities …'" Lucass, S. (2011). The Concept of the Messiah in the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. (L. L. Grabbe, Ed.) (Vol. 78, pp. 124–128). London; New York: T & T Clark International.]

 

 

When the Mx character is understood to be 'purely human', the identity is generally given as being Shem or one of his descendants--although the reason for this identification by the Rabbinics is considered suspect by some:

 

"Both the second-century Aramaic Targum Neofiti and the Fragment Targum identify Melchizedek with Noah’s son Shem in its translation of Genesis 14:18: “The king of Righteousness (Melka-sedek), the king of Jerusalem—he is Shem, the great one—brought out bread and wine, for he was the priest who served in the High Priesthood before the Most High God” (also the later Targum Pseudo-Jonathan). --- Later rabbinic traditions understand the high priesthood to have first been given to Shem-Melchizedek (Gen 14:18–20) but then transferred to Aaron through Abraham. Psalm 110:4 was read, “You [Abraham] are a priest forever” (see b. Zebaḥ. 62a). " [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 694). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"NOTE 102: Tan. B. I, 75, 76; Tan. Lek 15. The identity of Melchizedek with Shem is presupposed in many Jewish and Christian sources; comp. Nedarim 32b (in a statement by a teacher who flourished about 100); BR 26.4 and the parallel passages given by Theodor; Tehillim 76, 340; PRE 8 and 27; Yelammedenu quoted in Yalkut Nahum (here שלם = perfect, free from any blemish); Midrash Aggada I, 23 (read שעשאו כהן, “he appointed him priest”); Targum Yerushalmi, Gen. 14:18. Zohar Hadash Noah, 29b (from there in Gabai’s ʿAbodat ha-Kodesh II, 31, where the source is not given. On the study of Abraham in the Academy of Shem-Melchizedek mentioned in this source, comp. note 13), tells us that Shem received the name Melchizedek from God when He appointed him priest; compare footnote 51 on p. 150. The Church Fathers Jerome, Quaestiones, 14.18, Ephraim I, 61 E and 79D as well as Epiphanius, Haer., 55.6, speak of Shem-Melchizedek. The last-mentioned Church Father attributes this identification to the Samaritans, whereas “the Jews declare Melchizedek to have been the son of a prostitute.” Later Christian authors somewhat modified the rabbinic view concerning Melchizedek and considered him a descendant of Shem." [Ginzberg, L., Szold, H., & Radin, P. (2003). Legends of the Jews (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.]

 

"The eschatological interpretation of Melchizedek also finds expression in later Jewish works (b. Sukkah 52b), but the priest-king more often is downplayed, being identified with Noah’s son Shem (e.g., Num. Rab. 4:8). In another twist of exegesis that diminishes the role of Melchizedek, b. Ned. 32b, for instance, interprets the events of Gen. 14 and Ps. 110:4 as the priesthood being given to Abraham (Ps. 110:1; also in Gen. Rab. 55:6). They suggest that it is “because of the words of Melchizedek” that Abraham was made a priest." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.]

 

"The only other mention of Melchizedek in the OT occurs in Ps. 110:4, where the Lord (Yahweh) addresses David’s Lord (’āḏôn) with the acclamation: “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Ps. 110:4 thus intimates that the priest-king of messianic expectation would be installed in a new non-Aaronic sacerdotal order patterned after that of Melchizedek of old. In both the pre-Christian and early Christian eras the Psalm-text was interpreted by the Jews in a messianic sense. Strack-Billerbeck argues that the disappearance of the messianic interpretation of the Psalm between c. A.D. 50 and 250 was due to heightened tensions between the expanding church and the Synagogue (SB IV 452 f.). By substituting a non-messianic interpretation for Ps. 110, the Rabbinate sought to undermine the church’s appeal to this text in its teaching and preaching." [Demarest, B. A. (1986). Melchizedek, Salem. L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), New international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vol. 2, p. 590). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

 

"NOTE104: Nedarim 32b; WR 25.6. This Haggadah is very likely directed against the Christians who took Melchizedek to be a type of Jesus, the everlasting priest; comp. Hebrews 7:1–3 and especially Justin Martyr, Dialogue, 33 and 96." [Ginzberg, L., Szold, H., & Radin, P. (2003). Legends of the Jews (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.]

 

Other Jewish works identify other human-only characters:

 

"… in intertestamental Judaism, one of the central eschatological figures was a high priest, and we have to assume that they developed this image from their Scriptures. Phinehas the priest is seen as an eschatological leader in Sirach and in Jubilees." [TH:IMBDSS,68]

 

 

Okay. So we have reached the point that we know that there was an eschatological expectation of an eschatological figure who included priestly characteristics, performed priestly functions, and was connected in some way with priestly figures from the Hebrew bible (e.g. Mx, Phineas, Levi, or the Aaronic high priest).

 

Forms of this expectation shows up in all the literature of the period--here's a snapshot/summary:

 

Qumran/DSS - we noted the various passages on the Mx figure above too:

 

"QL demonstrates the expectation of a plurality of messianic figures, one of whom would be a priest (1QS 9.11; 1QSa 2; CDC 12.23; 14.19; 19.10, 21). Furthermore these writings indicate that the priestly Messiah would have primary place [Julius Scoot Jr, "James the Relative of Jesus and the Expectation of An Eschatological Priest", JETS, 25/3 (Sept 1982)]

 

The Samaritans -

 

"Samaritan eschatology contained the hope of the coming of a priestly accompaniment from the tribe of Phinehas for the Messiah-Restorer (To ‘eb). This priest would come from heaven with the Ta ‘eb, assist in his work, and be killed and buried on Mount Gerizim. …  Other Samaritan sources, however, do not speak of a priestly accompaniment for the Ta’eb but rather stress his own Levitic origin and priestly functions…" [Julius Scoot Jr, "James the Relative of Jesus and the Expectation of An Eschatological Priest", JETS, 25/3 (Sept 1982)]

 

The Pseudoepigrapha -

 

"In the first-century book of 2 Enoch (71–72) Melchizedek also is a heavenly figure. In this work Melchizedek is saved from the flood so he can continue a line of priests started with Seth. Michael takes the child Melchizedek to paradise, where he is to be a priest forever." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.]

 

"The earliest and most extensive extra-biblical tradition about Melchizedek is found in 2 Enoch 71–72…. Melchizedek is described as born “fully developed” as a three-year old. He has the mark of the high priesthood on him from birth and must be hidden lest the wicked kill him. God, through the agency of an archangel, hides the child Melchizedek in the garden of Eden for seven years. This child is finally placed at the head of the high priests of the future in the “center of the earth where Adam was created” (2 Enoch 71:35[J]). In these texts Melchizedek is a title. There are multiple Melchizedeks “according to the order of Melchizedek,” though the greatest of these is the aforementioned." [Schniedewind, W. M. (2000). Melchizedek, Traditions of. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: a compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (electronic ed., p. 693). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs frequently point to the coming of a priest-leader of the tribe of Levi (e.g. T Levi 8:15; T Reub. 5:7 ff.; T Judah 21:1 fl.; T Dan 5:10–11; T Jos. 9:5–6). However, these documents show the influence of Christian editors and must be used critically."  [Julius Scoot Jr, "James the Relative of Jesus and the Expectation of An Eschatological Priest", JETS, 25/3 (Sept 1982)]

 

"That the mysterious personality of Melchizedek occupied the fancy of the people at very early times may be seen from the 12 Testaments which, in its pre-Christian parts (Levi 17. 7), speaks of him in the highest terms of praise. [Ginzberg, L., Szold, H., & Radin, P. (2003). Legends of the Jews (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.]

 

From the Testament of Levi: "Then shall the Lord raise up a new priest …And he shall execute a righteous judgment upon the earth for a multitude of days. And his star shall arise in heaven as of a king, Lighting up the light of knowledge as the sun the day, and he shall be magnified in the world. He shall shine forth as the sun on the earth, and shall remove all darkness from under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth"

 

"Themes that have been observed in ALD (tn: Aramaic Levi Document) and Jubilees' discussion of Levi, such as the heavenly nature of this priesthood and the dual appointments of Levi and Judah [to eternal, eschatological roles], appear again in Testament of Levi. Perhaps most striking, however, are the discussion of Levi's service in heaven itself…" [HI:YAPF,131]

 

The Rabbinical writings -

 

We have noted several passages above, but the Targum's translation of Ps 110.4 shows the eschatological interpretation of that passage:

 

"Interestingly, in the Targum on Ps. 110:4 the figure of Melchizedek drops out, and the verse is presented in eschatological terms. McNamara (2000: 21) renders the verse: “The LORD has sworn and will not relent: ‘You are appointed as chief for the world to come, on account of the merit that you have been a righteous king.’ ” He notes that the Targum “is modeled on the Hebrew text.” For instance, kōhēn (“priest”) is rendered as rb (“prince”), a term often used for kōhēn when referring to a respected, non-Jewish priest (e.g., Gen. 41:45, 50; 46:20; Exod. 3:1). The Targum rendering paraphrases lĕʿôlām (“forever”) as “the world to come.” The Hebrew ʿal-dibrātî (“according to the order of”) is understood as meaning “because,” and Melchizedek’s name is paraphrased as “a just king” (McNamara 2000: 21)." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 960–962). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos.]

 

 

So, the interpreters of the Hebrew Bible (even working with such a small number of texts for this specific role) expected a messianic priestly figure (often a priest-king figure). Much of the literature refers to the Mx - passages, but some do not.

 

And the verse in the Book of Hebrews that makes this the most explicit refers to the central passage--Ps 110.4.

 

Commentators normally take this passage in a way similar to the Hebrews--as referring to a dynastic priest-king separate from the line of Aaron or Levi:

 

"The proclamation of the Davidic king as “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” has its background in David’s conquest of Jerusalem about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. As a consequence of that victory, David and his descendants became heirs of Melchizedek’s dynasty of priest-kings. " [Arnold, C. E. (2002). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Hebrews to Revelation. (Vol. 4, p. 33). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.]

 

"In Ps. 110:4 a Davidic king is acclaimed by divine oath as ‘a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’. The background of this acclamation is provided by David’s conquest of Jerusalem c. 1000 BC, by virtue of which David and his house became heirs to Melchizedek’s dynasty of priest-kings. The king so acclaimed was identified by Jesus and his contemporaries as the Davidic Messiah (Mk. 12:35ff.). If Jesus is the Davidic Messiah, he must be the ‘priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’. This inevitable conclusion is drawn by the writer to the Hebrews, who develops his theme of our Lord’s heavenly priesthood on the basis of Ps. 110:4, expounded in the light of Gn. 14:18ff…" [Bruce, F. F. (1996). Melchizedek. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 749). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]

 

"Though the messianic character of Ps 110 is debated among OT commentators, there is rather general agreement that it is at least a royal psalm, one in which some Davidic king is addressed as the hero and associated with the past as the successor of Melchizedek. Like Ps 2, it echoes the dynastic covenant established in the oracle of Nathan (2 Sm 7:8–16). But the psalmist thinks of the reigning Israelite king, ‘not … as a simple historical figure, but as a religious figure who incorporates in himself the kingdom of Israel and its hope for a future in which the kingship of Yahweh will become universally effective. In this sense the Ps is messianic since it repeats the messianic outlook of the dynasty of David.’ …  Ps 110:4 thus presents the king as the heir of Melchizedek, succeeding him as a priest forever." [Fitzmyer, J. A. (1997). The Semitic Background of the New Testament: Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament (pp. 224–225). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK; Livonia, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Dove Booksellers.]

 

 

The research of two specialist works (both based on doctoral dissertations) will be helpful here.

 

First is the work of Eric Mason ['You are a Priest Forever': Second Temple Jewish Messianism and the Priestly Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Eric F. Mason, Brill:2008]

 

 

"The texts surveyed above clearly demonstrate an expectation of a priestly, eschatological messianic figure who would appear alongside a lay figure, often explicitly identified as Davidic. An eschatological prophet also appears occasionally, but more typical is the pairing of king and priest. When one looks at these several texts and the quotations from Scripture from which they are drawn, one is struck by how little exegetical support can be found for the priestly messiah. Indeed, the only passages of Scripture invoked [by Qumran] in this manner are Deut 33:8-11; Num 24:17-19; and Amos 5:26-27. Those not sharing the exegetical methods and eschatological doctrines of the Qumran community might be hard-pressed to decipher a priestly messiah figure from these texts. --- It is perhaps surprising that no passages about Zadok or even Phinehas are cited in these texts to support the expectation for a priestly messiah. Perhaps even more glaring is the absence of references to the several passages of Scripture which seem to stress a bifurcated or even priestly leadership. Passages in Zechariah immediately come to mind, especially Zech 4:14, where Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua are called the 'two sons of oil,' and Zech 6:9-14, where according to most scholars Joshua's name has been inserted as the messiah in the place of Zerubbabel's. Similarly in Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua are repeatedly mentioned in tandem, though at the end of the book Zerubbabel alone is told that he will be God's signet ring." [HI:YAPF,111]

 

Second is the work of Joshua Mathews [Melchizedek's Alternative Priestly Order: A Compositional Analysis of Genesis 14:18-20 and Its Echoes throughout the Tanak, by Joshua G. Mathews, Eisenbrauns:2013].

 

In his introductory survey of the interpretive history of the Melchizedek Episode (ME), Mathews describes his findings and the intent of his demonstration:

 

"… in the early interpretive history, there is a precedent for a messianic interpretation of Melchizedek, not only based on Psalm 110 or on Hebrews, but also from Genesis 14 itself. This was evident in the pre-Christian, Jewish literature that saw Melchizedek as an elevated, eschatological figure. In what follows, I aim to demonstrate that there is an exegetical basis in Genesis 14 for this understanding of Melchizedek." [Mathews, pp22-23].

 

Mathews first exams the textual interactions between Mx and Abram, Moses, Aaron, and Jethro in the Pentateuch and concludes with this:

 

"My contention in this major section has been that Aaron is portrayed, in the early chapters of Exodus in particular, as a concession to Moses and Israel for their lack of faith and their resistance to Yahweh. This portrait of Aaron in turn renders the priesthood that he inaugurates somewhat tainted in its depiction, perhaps also suggesting its impermanence and thereby subtly endorsing an alternative priestly ideal. For these reasons, I have referred to Aaron's priesthood as concessive. Then, I sought to demonstrate the ways in which Jethro is presented as an ideal priestly figure in contrast to Aaron. Finally, I pointed out several apparently intentional connections between Melchizedek and Jethro. These links identify a priestly succession, or order, beginning with Melchizedek and continuing through Jethro. Aaron, who is succeeded genealogically by his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar is the concessive founder of a flawed priestly order. Melchizedek, who is succeeded narratively and compositionally by Jethro, is the founder of a priesthood that is ideal and wholly distinct from Aaron's—an alternative priestly order. [Mathews, 112; He also quotes Sailhammer who had noticed the textual parallels between Mx and Jethro: "The purpose of these parallels appears to be to cast Jethro as another Melchizedek" (Pentateuch as Narrative, 280-281)]

 

He then examines texts in the Prophets and the Writings, noting especially Ps 110, Zech 6, Ezra 3/5/7/8 and the parallels in Neh (esp 9):

 

"This chapter's analysis built on the compositional analysis in ch.3. I discovered what I take to be intentional echoes of Melchizedek in texts in the Prophets and Writings. First under investigation was Psalm 110 and various other texts in which echoes of Melchizedek often relate to the Davidic monarchy and the priesthood in Jerusalem. I suggested that other biblical writers interpreted the ME in its context in a way that linked Melchizedek closely with these two most important institutions in Israel. The degree to which one associates eschatological or messianic expectations with David and Jerusalem should therefore correspond to similar associations with Melchizedek. --- Next, I examined two postexilic texts, one from the Prophets and one from the Writings. The first of these, Zechariah, was observed to be casting Joshua the high priest as a royal figure, thus merging the offices of priest and king in an innovative and important way. The joint offices of priest and king are envisioned in Zechariah 6 especially as finding their final fulfillment in one who is to come. This future-oriented, messianic portrayal of Joshua continues the trajectory that originated with Melchizedek in the Pentateuch. Finally, I considered several strategies by which Melchizedek's alternative priesthood is echoed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Though subtle at times, the echoes of Melchizedek in Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah support the overall thesis of this research. The ME and its compositional context provide the foundation on which the authors of these postexilic texts crafted their conception and eschatological expectation of a royal priesthood." Mathews, pp134f]

 

 

His final conclusion summarizes his research:

 

"As I stated in ch. 1, the thesis that I am investigating in this book is that there is a textually recognizable and demonstrably distinct priestly succession—an order—of Melchizedek that was intended in the composition of the Pentateuch and continued throughout the Tanak. Beginning with the ME of Gen 14:18-20 and then moving throughout the Pentateuch and the rest of the Tanak, I have explored and defended the claim that this royal priesthood of Melchizedek is presented as an alternative order to the priesthood of Aaron. The author of the Pentateuch, followed by other biblical authors, has strategically composed his material so as to portray the priest-king Melchizedek as anticipating a fulfillment of the priestly ideals that Aaron's priesthood failed to achieve from its inception." [Mathews, 136]

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………… ……………………..

 

Okay, so that's basically 1-4:

 

·         He was to be a “second” Moses (prophet)

·         He was to be a “second” David (Davidic king)

·         He was to be a “second” Melchizedek (Kingly Priest)

·         He was to be a faithful priest (as opposed to Eli)

 

 

(Although I must confess that I cannot find my reference to the contrast with Eli anywhere in my writings… although it’s a minor issue…I cannot find it anywhere ELSE either)…

 

So, on to the next ones… (messy2.html)


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