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Melchizedek

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"The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek," painted in 1467 by Dieric Bouts (1415 - 1475)
"The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek," painted in 1467 by Dieric Bouts (1415 - 1475)

Melchizedek, also known as Melchisadek, Melchisedech, or Malki Tzedek ("king of righteousness") was the Canaanite priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem) named in 14th chapter of the Book of Genesis and more cryptically in Psalms 110 in the Jewish and Christian Bible. He is believed to have been teacher of the patriarch Abraham.

According to the Talmud, Melchizedek was born circumcised. It is said that an entity known as "The Holy Spirit" — the ethereal substance of prophecy, visions, angels, and possession by beneficent spirit guides — resided at his academy between the time of Adam and Eve's banishment from Eden and the birth of Abraham. In the First Book of Enoch and in one fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, he is said to be a nephew of Noah. In another Dead Sea Scroll he is called an "Angel of Light." In the Zohar (The Book of Radiance) Melchizedek allegorically represents the totality of divine powers. In the rabbinical commentaries on the Torah, Melchizedek is the first named person in the Torah to be called a “kohen” (high priest) even though it is thought that the office of high priesthood preceded him.

Melchizedek is generally depicted as an elderly, white-bearded man wearing priestly robes and holding offerings of bread and wine to Abraham on the occasion of the latter's military victory over theose who had abducted his nephew, Lot. As is common with famed Jewish spiritual figures, he has assumed a role in several later religions. For instance, the Christian Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament, described Melchizedek and Jesus as both being great high priests, and claimed that Melchizedek was a foreshadowing to Jesus's appearance on Earth. On May 22 and two Sundays before Christmas (a holiday known as "Sunday of the Forefathers"), the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates Melchizedek. He is also commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers on July 26 in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Traditional Protestant Christian denominations, following Luther, teach that Melchizedek was both a historical figure and an archetype of Christ. In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Book of Mormon (Alma 13:17–19) makes reference to Melchizedek. The founder of the LDS, Joseph Smith, "appointed his male followers to priesthoods, named for the biblical figures Melchizedek and Aaron, that were overseen by the office of High Priest." The mention of Melchizedek in the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of 4th century Gnostic spiritual texts, adds support to the belief among reincarnationalists that he was Jesus in a prior incarnation. In the New Age Tradition, Melchizedek is identified as one of the Ascended Masters, the Master of sacred geometry and initiation into mysteries. In various texts or at various times he is called the Master of the First, Fourth, and Seventh Ray, and a prior incarnation of the Ascended Master El Morya.

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