The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.Psalm 110:4 King James Version
It amazed me recently to see how much of Hebrews is about Melchizedek, his priesthood and covenant. The Old Testament contains only two references to him:
- Melchizedek offered bread and wine to Abram after his victory and Abram gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:17-20.
- David referenced Melchizedek in Psalm 110:4.
Since Hebrews 7:3 makes much of him as “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (KJV), one way to discredit Christianity would be to make sure Melchizedek was someone with a father, a mother and a limited lifespan. One popular candidate has been Noah’s son Shem, but didn’t Shem die long before Abram was born?
In Genesis 11:10-32 there is a genealogy from Shem to Abraham with the ages of the fathers when their heirs were born. Oddly those ages in the Hebrew Masoretic text (MT) differ by exactly 100 years from the Greek Septuagint (LXX). The MT offers the possibility that Melchizedek in Genesis 14 could have been Shem while the LXX does not. Did someone change the MT to discredit Hebrews? These differing manuscript traditions can’t both be right.
The shorter MT dates also provide problems for creationists. The MT compresses the time between the global flood and the tower of Babel to about 100 years. This might not be enough time for a large enough population to come from the eight survivors on the Ark for them to consider building a tower. It also makes it difficult for the Egyptian pyramids to have been constructed after the global flood.
Nathan Hoffman has an informative video promoting the ages found in the LXX and showing the problems that arise by accepting the ages in the MT. The creationists Lita Sanders and Robert Carter, however, criticized Hoffman’s position siding with the MT. Others such as Douglas Petrovich, Steve Rudd and Henry B. Smith sided with the LXX.
I think Hoffman is right. That means the time since creation is perhaps 6650 years rather than about 6000 years. Admittedly some think the world is much older. I no longer share those evolutionist views. The upper bound I now use when thinking about the age of the world is 7700 years.
This concern over the textual variations between the MT and the LXX also means that it is helpful knowing both Greek and Hebrew to better understand what the original autographs actually contained.
Although the MT lost (in my view) to the LXX on this variation, there are other questions such as how long were the Israelites in Egypt – 215 or 430 years or some other amount of time? On that question Douglas Petrovich sided with the MT, but that is another story.
Weekly Parashah Readings
Parashah: Chukat, 10 Tammuz, 5782 – July 9, 2022
Torah: Numbers 19:1-22:1
Haftarah: Judges 11:1-11:33
Brit Chadashah: Hebrews 9:11-28; John 3:10-21
Resources: Chabad, Hebrew4Christians, Weekly Torah Readings, Calendar