Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In parshas Lech Lecha, after Avraham had successfully conquered the four kings and rescued his nephew Lot, it says (Bereishis 14,18):

וּמַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן; וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן - "And Malchi-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest to the Most High God".

But why does the posuk interrupt its description of Malchi-Tzedek with the the phrase "brought out bread and wine"? It would have been more logical to write:

וּמַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן, הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן - "And Malchi-Tzedek king of Shalem, a priest to the Most High God, brought out bread and wine", and thereby there would have been no need for the extra word "וְהוּא".

share|improve this question
Are long chains of adjectives common at all common in Biblical Hebrew? – J. C. Salomon Jan 21 '14 at 19:31
Is there any source that says malchitzedek was not a super tzaddik? – Clint Eastwood Aug 20 '14 at 11:52

Gan Rave says that וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן is talking about Avraham.

share|improve this answer
And if you could explain why the pasuk decided to suddenly switch subjects without warning, that would be nice too. – Double AA Jan 21 '14 at 20:11

The sefer לקוטי לב אהרן here brings from the teachings of Rabbi Meir from Premishlan the following explanation:

When two Tzaddikim meet they need to learn from each other the good character trait that the other excels in more than him. And we know that Avraham excelled in deeds of lovingkindness - bringing in guests and serving them with food and drink and whatever they needed, and Malchi-Tzedek excelled in priestly service to God, and for this reason he was called "a priest to the Most High God".

Thus, when these two Tzaddikim met they brought out (learnt) one from the other how to strengthen themselves in the character trait that the other excelled in more than him. This is the underlying message of our posuk:

"And Malchi-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out (from Avraham his character trait of) bread and wine (looking after guests), and he (that is, Avraham, brought out from Malchi-Tzedek his character trait of being) a priest to the Most High God (priestly service)".

Full text in English can be found here.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.