There are a two main suggestions as to who he was, but both seem to be based on assumptions:


"It is probable that Shem was the personage to whom Abraham paid tithes on his return from the slaughter of the kings. Abraham died thirty-five years before Shem reached his five hundred and second year, after the flood. At this date, Isaac was one hundred and ten, and Jacob fifty; so that they were contemporary with Shem for these periods of their lives. There is no account of Shem's death in the scripture; on the contrary... the person called Melchizedec still lives. Now, Melchizedec is a word expressive of the character of the person who bore it. It signifies king of righteousness, or righteous king. He was the greatest king in Canaan, and reigned in Salem, which signifies peace, and is afterwards called Jerusalem; so that this righteous king was King of Peace. Shem, king of righteousness, and king of peace, and priest of the Most High God, is the type, contemporary with the holder of the promises, of the Seed, or Christ, on the throne of the Kingdom of God."

John Thomas

A verse that could be used to support this is:

"Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem!..."

Genesis 9:26, NIV

In the Mormon book, Doctrine and Covenants (138:41), Shem is identified as a great high priest. In the Apocrapha, Jasher (16:11) also says that Melchizedek was "the same as Shem..." Hebrew tradition indicates that at this time Shem was the oldest living human alive; making it appear to those around him that he had no parents or relatives. Generations would come and go, and Shem would still be there. But none of these sources are inspired, none carry any authority.

  • How would an elderly geriatric rule and protect a town?
  • How can one prove that it was Shem?


This is an idea put forward by Herbert Armstrong, Plain Truth:

Since Jesus is known as the Prince of Peace, surely no other human can be called the King of Peace... Also note that he had no father or mother or family tree. He didn't lose his records, they say, since he couldn't have become a priest (Ezra 2:62), but since he had "neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (Heb 7:3), he has aways existed from eternity: that is, he is part of the Diety!

Because Mechizedek is always a high priest ("abides continually"), he must be Jesus Christ.

From fragments of writings near where the Dead Sea Scrolls where found, shows that this idea was also held strongly by the Qumran community, as well as some Jewish and Gnostic sects of the first century AD.

But in Hebrews it says that Melchizedek was "like the Son of God", providing a simple argument against this interpretation. The Greek word for "like" used in this verse is used to describe two separate identities, one of which is a copy of the other.


This may seem hard to believe, but Melchizedek was just himself. Divinely appointed by God for the role of High Priest, he was fully human, had parents, was born, lived, and died. [this covered on the next page]

He did not need to prove his pedigree to become a Levite Priest (Ezra 2:62), since 400 years were to elapse before these priests came into existance.

King of Salem

It seems that everyone agrees on this one point. Melchizedek was the king of a town called Salem. The word "Salem" means peace. But even when it is clear that this is Jerusalem, (e.g. Psalm 76:2), there are still other interpretations:

"It becomes very clear from this scriptural citation (Gen 14:29-36, JST) that Melchizedek, along with his city, were translated and taken to heaven... This would also mean that Melchizedek and his people will return at the Second Coming with Enoch and his city... Perhaps, Salem was severed at the departure of Saturn... or maybe at the time of the turbulent ascendancy of the planet Jupiter. Mention should be made that "Salem" is also a name for Saturn."

The City of Melchizedek (Salem) Flees Earth

There are two points to be made from this quote.

  • The passage of "scripture" quoted, is in no way scriptual. It only appears in the Joseph Smith Translation.
  • Salem is not a name for Saturn: another Hebrew word is used. In Amos 5:26, the word pedestal ("Kaiwan" in the footnotes of the NIV) most likely refers to Saturn. See Gesenius

A suggestion that since he was king of a town, he was also of "royal" descent, that is his father was king before him, sounds plausible.

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