Saturday, November 4, 2023

Melchizedek and Abraham Were Kinsmen


In this post I respond to a friend's question about Melchizedek's relationship to Abraham.

Alice, on your blog you stated, "Melchizedek's earthly father was probably Sheba the Elder whose ancient royal line rivaled the House of David (II Sam. 20). The omission of Melchizedek's ancestry in the Hebrew Scriptures is consistent with the common practice of eliminating elements of history that do not serve the Jewish narrative. Omissions about ancestry and kinship, and aspersions cast upon some of the early Hebrew rulers is motivated by political expediency."

Do you have any supporting evidence for the assertion that Melchizedek's father was probably Sheba the Elder?

The data required to understand the relationship of Melchizedek and Abraham is found in Genesis 14 and in an understanding of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew, a ruler-priest caste.

1. Melchizedek was the ruler-priest of the high place that came to be called Jerusalem. The Hebrew were a caste of ruler-priests and Melchizedek fits that description. Melchizedek means "righteous king". He is remembered because he was a high king over lesser regional rulers (vassals) such as Abraham. Abraham's relationship to Melchizedek fits the Suzerain-vassal pattern. A vassal holds land on conditions of homage and allegiance. For the Hebrew, the allegiance was based on blood ties.

2. As I show in my book The First Lords of the Earth: An Anthropological Study, the early Hebrew were widely dispersed in the service of kingdom builders who established strongholds at elevated sites near permanent water sources. That describes Jerusalem in Abraham's time.

3. The narrative about Melchizedek has as its background a battle between regional kings. After the battle Melchizedek comes to Abraham with bread and wine, and blessed Abraham in the name of the Most High God. It is likely that this activity represents a rite of cleansing from blood guilt.

4. In that narrative, Abraham presents Melchizedek with a tenth (tithe) of the booty. This suggests that Abraham was subject to Melchizedek. Melchizedek was likely the high king over many of the regional rulers such as Abraham.

5. Abraham's territory extended on a north-south axis between Hebron (Sarah's settlement) and Beersheba (Keturah's settlement). Hebron is only 19 miles south of Jerusalem. It is likely that the entire region was Hebrew territory since the early Hebrew land holdings were extensive at that time. Canaan was the crossroads by which these early Hebrew ruler-priests dispersed

6. The Hebrew alliances were based on endogamous marriages. Therefore, it is not far-fetched to consider that Abraham and Melchizedek were kinsmen. The relationship of Abraham and Melchizedek appears to be through the very ancient royal house of Sheba. This is my hypothesis based on the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the biblical Hebrew which I have identified using kinship analysis.

Melchizedek was probably the maternal uncle of Abraham's cousin wife, Keturah. Keturah resided at the Well of Sheba and was of the royal house of Sheba. About a 1000 years later, a man called Sheba contested David's claim to the throne (2 Samuel 20).

The Bible makes it clear that the people of Sheba were Abraham's kinsmen. Genesis 10:7 identifies Sheba as a son of the Kushite ruler Raamah, one of Abraham's ancestors. Genesis 10:28 states that Sheba was a son of Joktan, a son of Eber who was a descendant of both Ham and Shem, since their lines intermarried (caste endogamy). Genesis 25:3 notes that Abraham and Keturah had a grandson named Sheba. 

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