In religious stories of Abraham's branch, there is a character whose presence is very peculiar and mysterious because he is the first King and Priest of Salem (Jerusalem), the land where Jesus Christ will be born years later. His name was Melchizedek and his lineage is not clear in the Bible, which mentions him in three of his Old Testament books; Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews. There is only talk of an encounter between this King - Priest with Abraham and about the first offering of bread and wine; and the first tithe offered by Abraham to recognize his service to God. These three elements will then be used by future Christian priests in their religious practices.
Melchizedek whose name means "king of righteousness" was the king of Salem (meaning Peace) and priest of El Elyon (Most High God). The Bible mentions him in three of its books, Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews. He meets the patriarch Abraham and his men after they won the Quedorlaomer battle. He offers them bread and wine and gives them his blessing in the name of "The Highest God". Abraham offers him the tithe of his goods recognizing him as a God's priest. Many scholars relate him to Jesus Christ since both have the condition of King and Priest but with different origins. Melchizedek has no genealogy, which makes him a celestial being. On the other hand, Jesus who comes from the descendants of King David does have genealogy and as a priest of the order of Melchizedek, is a terrestrial being. All the above makes these two characters possess a correspondence between heaven and earth.
Melchizedek is one of the twenty main characters of Old Testament; however, this book leaves no evidence of his birth, nor death, making him an eternal being.
According to John’s gospel, there are only two Eternal beings, the Father (God) and the son who will eventually become Jesus, “the Christ”. For many scholars, this being who “will eventually become the Christ” (a word meaning anointed) is Melchizedek, who comes again, this time as a being with an earthly lineage, as a Messiah and in order to continue his Father’s work.
The Bible does not present Melchizedek genealogy. According to the Hebrew book, it is considered “a being without a father, without a mother, without a genealogy; having neither a beginning of days nor an end of life”.
On the other hand, it is important to mention that Melchizedek more than a person’s name means a function. In this case, this name means “King of Justice” and the land that governs is that of Salem which means “Peace”. Justice and Peace are two divine elements that are represented in Melchizedek, who is king and priest at the same time. For many Melchizedeks, it is a pre-figuration of Jesus who will also fulfill the function of priest, king and prophet of Justice and Peace.
There are other theories that claim it is a nickname for Shem, Noah’ s son, but this is not explained in the Bible.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, two types of priesthoods are recognized, those of the Melchizedek branch and those of the Aaron branch from Abraham. Since Melchizedek has a divine origin, unlike Aaron, who comes from Abraham’s family. Melchizedek’s order is a heavenly priestly order and Aaron’s order is a terrestrial order. This is evident at chronological level. The patriarch Abraham is blessed by the King of Justice and Peace, which gives Melchizedek a higher rank than Abraham, a relative of Aaron and his descendant Levi from whom the priests of Aaron’s order will come out.
At present, this priestly order is known as the major priesthood among the Mormon congregation and is transmitted by the authorities of this church through hand laying on of the faithful males over 18 years who are considered worthy to carry the gospel ordinances and who know how to preach it.
For Mormons, Melchizedek priesthood holds the keys to all the church’s heavenly blessings.
This order is structured by offices which are: elders, high priests, patriarchs, seventies, and apostles. Each office has its duties and rights to protect the doctrine, transmit it and study it.
Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek is the first tithe in the Bible and symbolizes a recognition by the patriarch of the Priest King for his investiture as a priest.
Tithing was previously used by peoples of pagan traditions such as Akkadian, Assyria, Babylon, Canaan, Egypt, Sumer and Syria.
From that act, the tithe will be a symbolic and meaningful element in the priestly orders of Aaron’ branch, both in Judaism and Christianity.