Melchizedek and Shem

Bible Questions

Abraham and Melchizedek

Are Melchizedek and Shem the same person?

This question is frequently asked and has caught the interest of many scholars. Let us examine first these two names and then the arguments for and against the two being the same person.

Melchizedek means “King of righteousness” (Heb. 7:1-2). He was known as the great high priest (Alma 13:14), priest of the most high God (Gen. 14:18) ordained as priest after the order of the Son of God (Heb 7:3). He’s also known as Abram/ Abraham’s ecclesiastical leader (Gen. 14:19) (Gen. 14:20) (Heb. 7:4) and king of Salem (Gen. 14:18.)

Shem is the Son of Noah (Gen. 5:32), progenitor of Abraham. (1 Chronicles 1:24-27.) It was assumed that he held the keys to priesthood and was the great high priest of his day where he stands next to Noah during this time when patriarchs passed on the priesthood in the family.

Shem and Melchizedek are the same person:

  • The Great High Priest: There can’t be two high priests presiding at the same time. Shem was the great high priest of his day. Abraham honored the high priest Melchizedek by seeking a blessing at his hands and paying him tithes.
  • Order of Priesthood: Abraham stands next to Shem in the patriarchal order of the priesthood and would surely have received the priesthood from Shem; but Hebrews Teaching says Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek.
  • Reign over Salem: Shem inherited the land of Salem and Melchizedek is the king of Salem.
  • King of Righteousness: Shem reigned in righteousness (Melchizedek’s name means King of Righteousness) and the priesthood came through him. (Ginsberg, Legends of the Jews, p. 233.)
  • Name as Title: If Shem is indeed Melchizedek, the name is then used as a title, not an actual name. This title would seem to fit the biblical account of the Godliness and righteousness ascribed to Shem.
  • Hebrew Tradition: Shem, Noah’s Son that was still alive at the time of Abraham and that would make him the oldest man alive qualifying him as a candidate for the order of Melchizedek.

Shem and Melchizedek are two different people:

  • Account of Identity: Shem was born in 2448 B.C. and lived for 602 years. He was 100 years old at the time of the great flood. Abraham was born in 1948 B.C., and was 140 years old when Shem died. But the coincidence in Shem and Melchizedek living at the same time only makes their identity a possibility, not a reality.
  • Genealogy: We know Shem’s line and descendants. Abraham’s father was Terah who was in the line of Shem. We do not know Melchizedek’s genealogy.
  • Melchizedek in the Bible: Genesis 14:18-20
    The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Melchizedek beyond that he was a priest of God, and that his line of priesthood is an important one. Some Christians see Melchizedek as an early foreshadowing of Jesus himself.
  • Canaanite Priest: Jebusites were idolaters who worshiped Canaanite gods. Melchizedek could not have worshiped a heathen god because of the titles he used for the true God. Archaeological records reveal that the Jebusites were preceded by that of a Shemite group. Noah predicted that Canaan would serve under Shem (Gen.9:26).


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14 comments… add one

  • Courtney

    Check your calculations again. Abraham died before Shem.

    • margaret

      Shem was born 100 years (or 98 years) before the flood and lived for 600 years so that he lived for 500 years after the flood. Abraham was born 352 years after the flood so that Shem died when Abraham was about either 148 or 150.

  • Shem not only outlived Abraham, but he lived to see both Isaac and Jacob born.
    Shem lived to be 600 years old. According to the geneological data provided in Genesis, Shem was 395 years old when Abraham was born. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, making Shem 495. Abraham was 160 when Jacob was born, making Shem 555. Abraham died at 175 years old when time Shem was 570.

  • famousj

    I have examining both respond. I have also learned through spiritual research that the majority of individual have error in scripture leaning on man word and not the true living word of God. People who said that they believe in God, FIGHT with God word… It’s like, hard for them to receive the truth. In the book of Matthew 22:29 Ye do err, not knowing he scriptures, nor the power of God. As for Mr. David….. your comment is on piont and line up with the word of the true living God. It is God calculation and not man. Remember.. Is not God greater than Satan, Is not God greater than Adam sin. Is not God greater than man. Shem did….. out lived Abraham. Go to Genesis 11:10
    Shem =100+35=135+30=165+34=199+30=229+32=261+30=291+29=320+70=390+
    175=565+35=600. Shem lived 35yrs after Abraham death. Shem was 390 yrs old when Terah…. Abraham dad had children, and Shem lived another 210 yrs and died at
    600 year old

    Thank you for listing.

    God Bless

    • margaret

      The Amazing Bible Timeline is based on Ussher’s Chronology, considered the standard for the King James Bible. Ussher took into account all the verses of the Bible related to a person’s life. For example in Genesis 11:32, Terah lived a total of 205 years, and Genesis 12:1 may be taken to mean that Abram set out at age 75 after Terah’s death (Gen. 12:4), in which case Abram was born when Terah was age 130 instead of 70. Thus there would be a discrepancy of 60 years. Thus Ussher calculation would be in 2008 B.C.
      Also see our article titled Are There Triplets in the Bible

  • Was Yeshua in fact what we would call “black” or “African American” today? In Revelation Yeshua was described as having hair white like wool or wooly textured hair, and his feet the color of burnt copper. Also if you read Josephus he describes Yeshua as being a short black man.

    • Rodney

      Yeshua or Jesus which is the Greek translation of Yeshua , was a Jew. Jews are NOT black. His hair is described as white ( curly ) as wool. Yabba dabba doo , Jesus is a Jew , not black or white , they had olivine colored skin back then. Now-a-days they’re are only a handful of true Jews but most are inter-bred with other peoples. The truly orthodox ones have brownish olive color skin , not black , white , yellow , red , or even purple.

  • Xilef

    In Hebrew 7:3 says something about Melchizedek “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.

    • Doug

      Melchizedek is a title, not a name. It means “My King” (Melchi) is Righteous (Zedek). The high priests were called Zedekites because of the High Priest under David and Solomon was named Zedek.

      Melchizedek was the King of Salem/Jerusalem … as was David and Solomon. Zedek (Righteous) was appointed by the King (David) as all Zedekites (High Priests) were appointed by the King of Jerusalem. For example, Caiphus was appointed by Herod. Herod was a fraud – appointed by Rome. Yeshua was the true king of Jerusalem (as stated on the cross “King of the Jews”) and direct from the line of David (Judah). Therefore He and ONLY He was to appoint the High Priest … to which He appointed himself after Caiphus disqualified himself by tearing his tunic (Matthew 26). Melchizedek is greater than Aaronic because it holds the title of both King AND Priest rather than just one or the other.

      Melchizedek is said to have no father or mother because his genealogy is not not given. He is used as an example because of his authority over the father of nations (Abraham). The focus of the verse is not about who Melchizedek was but on the title of authority that Yeshua bears.

      Now, according to Jewish Talmudic tradition, Melchizedek in Gen 14 was Shem. Melchizedek was an order (Psalm 110) so he died, he was replaced. Noah was the “Eighth Preacher of Righteousness” (2 Peter) making Shem the 9th and Eber the 10th. It ended there until the Israelites returned from bondage and claimed Jerusalem.

  • gus

    Per epistle to the Hebrew his has no father and mother, no beginning or end of live. Cannot be Shem his father is Noah? Any comment?

    • Mike

      From what I am understanding, Melchizedek was a title – a ‘title’ would have no biological lineage. In the strictest sense there would be a first appearance of the title, as far as mans interpretation of time is concerned, however I do not believe that the Hebrew epistle excludes Shem as being Melchizedek.

      True, Shem had a father and mother.
      True too that Melchizedek – if it were simply a title describing a role and an attribute would have been assigned at some point in time.

      I believe the following – based on the above assumptions could also be true:

      Melchizedek Shem. (read in the same way we would read “Eternal Yeshua” or “King David”

      My Question is this:

      If the ideas pointed out in this fascinating article are to be take as true – what is the Significance of realizing that Shem, carried the torch to Abraham?

  • mark davis

    there is no scripture dat support Shem to b Melchizedek.d priesthood came only after moses xtablished d law,Abraham lived under grace cos there was no law he lived under,so d priesthood was no where in dat era of time.come to think of it,,taking apostle Paul’s teachng ,Melchizedek had no father, mother or any descent,,so hw can one look at dis n say Shem was Melchizedek?Melchizedek was God in a theophany body foreshadowing or projecting Christ high priestly office.

  • mark davis

    Melchizedek met Abraham after he had gained victory in d war,,n Melchizedek brought bread n wine to him..Christ b4 his crucifixion broke bread n wine to his,Melchizedek projects wat Christ was to accomplish for us Adam’s fallen race n dat was God doing dat,not can never be Shem.

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