1. IIRC, before Mt. Sinai, priestly rights were given to the firstborns.
  2. For those who say, Malkitzedek was Shem Ben Noah, he wasn't Noah's firstborn.
  3. I don't know if Abraham was a firstborn, but, unlike Malkitzedek, he's openly mentioned to be very special in following God's steps.

What made Malkitzedek a Cohen on a level greater than Abraham to necessitate Abraham's Maaser to him?

  • 1
    Who was Noah's firstborn and how do you know?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 1:10
  • 1
    The order of birth is disputed by commentaries.
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 1:15
  • Who says he was greater? Bereishis Rabbah 44:7 says Avraham strengthened Shem in mitzvos and maasim tovim
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 9:04
  • Whoever was the firstborn it wasnt shem since he only became 100 two years after the mabbul.
    – interested
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 14:31

2 Answers 2


The Maharal in Gur Aryeh explains that Noach got bitten by the lion and so he was a Baal mum and unable to be a Kohen. From the three children, Shem was the most worthy so he became the Kohen

ואין ספק שלא היה כהן רק המובחר, וזהו שם, שהרי מקדים אותו הכתוב תחלה "שם חם ויפת" (לעיל י, א), ומאחר שנעשה שם כהן לא ירד מכהונה כל ימי חייו, דאין מורידין בקדושה

  • 1
    I feel uneasy voting for quotations of sources, I truly want to support your effort, but also express my resentment from the quality of the sources. There are so many questions to refute the passage that I decided to downvote it. Seriously, what does that mean: Shem was the most worthy so he became the Kohen? What did it mean to be a Kohen? Why did Noah bring post-flood sacrifices and not Shem if Noah was Baal-Mum?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 21:35
  • @AlBerko You're downvoting the Maharal?
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 4:19

In my answer to your similar question I cited R. Saadiah Gaon (Emunot V'Deiot 3:9) who wrote:

The third [problem is presented by] the fact that God commanded all men to offer up sacrifices and then forbade such activities to everyone except Aaron and his children. But this, too, did not constitute an abrogation, for there is not contained in Scripture a single text indicating that all men had been appointed to perform the sacrificial rite. Before the appointment of Aaron it was only who had been appointed to a position similar to his that performed this rite. One who had not been appointed, however, had no right to engage in the performance of the sacrificial rite, neither before nor after the election of Aaron.

(Rosenblatt translation p. 168-19)

If this is true with regard to sacrificial offerings it may well be true with regard to other functions of the priesthood as well.

  • 2
    But Avraham could bring sacrifices. He brought the ram.
    – Heshy
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 1:54
  • 1
    אל הכהן – בבמה לא היה צורך בכהן וכל זר יכול להקריב קרבנות mg.alhatorah.org/Full/Vayikra/17/5#e0n6
    – interested
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 14:43
  • @Heshy Surely והעלהו שם לעולה is as good an appointment as any.
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 16:16

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