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Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

You asked how Paul's message would have been understood by Jews of his time. Jews who read the entire verse you cited would have rejected the heresy wholesale. I've bolded the parts that are especially problematic:

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (source)

Perfection -- if, by that, Paul means doing God's will and fulfilling our purpose -- is attained through the law and its proper observance. There was no "need" for a new priest. And a "priest" explicitly not descended from Aharon is not a priest. In Paul's time Jews had already been keeping the torah for more than a thousand years; they knew this and would not have been swayed by his assertions that the torah could be superseded.

Early Christianity, on the other hand, needed to explain how their non-kohein founder was salvivic, and there were other benefits to delegitimizing or superseding both torah and the priesthood.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

You asked how Paul's message would have been understood by Jews of his time. Jews who read the entire verse you cited would have rejected the heresy wholesale. I've bolded the parts that are especially problematic:

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (source)

Perfection is attained through the law and its proper observance. There was no "need" for a new priest. And a "priest" explicitly not descended from Aharon is not a priest. In Paul's time Jews had already been keeping the torah for more than a thousand years; they knew this and would not have been swayed by his assertions that the torah could be superseded.

Early Christianity, on the other hand, needed to explain how their non-kohein founder was salvivic, and there were other benefits to delegitimizing or superseding torah.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

You asked how Paul's message would have been understood by Jews of his time. Jews who read the entire verse you cited would have rejected the heresy wholesale. I've bolded the parts that are especially problematic:

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (source)

Perfection -- if, by that, Paul means doing God's will and fulfilling our purpose -- is attained through the law and its proper observance. There was no "need" for a new priest. And a "priest" explicitly not descended from Aharon is not a priest. In Paul's time Jews had already been keeping the torah for more than a thousand years; they knew this and would not have been swayed by his assertions that the torah could be superseded.

Early Christianity, on the other hand, needed to explain how their non-kohein founder was salvivic, and there were other benefits to delegitimizing or superseding both torah and the priesthood.

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Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

SpeculationYou asked how Paul's message would have been understood by Jews of his time. Jews who read the entire verse you cited would have rejected the heresy wholesale. I've bolded the parts that are especially problematic: because Jesus

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (source)

Perfection is attained through the law and its proper observance. There was notno "need" for a new priest. And a "priest" explicitly koheinnot or evendescended from Aharon is not a Levite, early Christianity (which saw itself aspriest. In Paul's time Jews had already been keeping the torah for more than a Jewish movement at first)thousand years; they knew this and would not have been swayed by his assertions that the torah could be superseded.

Early Christianity, on the other hand, needed to do something to delegitimize the explain how their non-kohanimkohein or at least promote the idea that there's a second valid line of priests outfounder was salvivic, and there were other benefits to delegitimizing or superseding torah.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

Speculation: because Jesus was not a kohein or even a Levite, early Christianity (which saw itself as a Jewish movement at first) needed to do something to delegitimize the kohanim or at least promote the idea that there's a second valid line of priests out there.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

You asked how Paul's message would have been understood by Jews of his time. Jews who read the entire verse you cited would have rejected the heresy wholesale. I've bolded the parts that are especially problematic:

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (source)

Perfection is attained through the law and its proper observance. There was no "need" for a new priest. And a "priest" explicitly not descended from Aharon is not a priest. In Paul's time Jews had already been keeping the torah for more than a thousand years; they knew this and would not have been swayed by his assertions that the torah could be superseded.

Early Christianity, on the other hand, needed to explain how their non-kohein founder was salvivic, and there were other benefits to delegitimizing or superseding torah.

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Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with AvrahamAvram. Avraham's He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

Speculation: because Jesus was not a kohein or even a Levite, early Christianity (which saw itself as a Jewish movement at first) needed to do something to delegitimize the kohanim or at least promote the idea that there's a second valid line of priests out there.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avraham. Avraham's grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

Speculation: because Jesus was not a kohein or even a Levite, early Christianity (which saw itself as a Jewish movement at first) needed to do something to delegitimize the kohanim or at least promote the idea that there's a second valid line of priests out there.

Malkitezedek was a priest contemporary with Avram. He lost or ceded his special status to Avram (Tz'enah Ur'enah and R' Daniel Raccah cited here).

Avram's (i.e. Avraham's) grandson Yaakov had twelve sons, one of which was Levi. When Israel received the torah a few generations later, the tribe of Levi was set aside for service to God, and within the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his the descendants were designated exclusively as priests (kohanim). The kohanim are the only legitimate priests in Judaism since the giving of the torah. Anybody descended from or seeking to emulate Malkitzedek, who is not also a kohein, has no priestly status in Judaism.

Speculation: because Jesus was not a kohein or even a Levite, early Christianity (which saw itself as a Jewish movement at first) needed to do something to delegitimize the kohanim or at least promote the idea that there's a second valid line of priests out there.

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