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".

  • Are long chains of adjectives common at all common in Biblical Hebrew? Jan 21, 2014 at 19:31
  • Is there any source that says malchitzedek was not a super tzaddik? Aug 20, 2014 at 11:52
  • @J.C.Salomon It would seem similar to וישמע יתרו כהן מדין חתן משה
    – Alex
    Sep 15, 2019 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


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

  • 4
    And if you could explain why the pasuk decided to suddenly switch subjects without warning, that would be nice too.
    – Double AA
    Jan 21, 2014 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.

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