After the narrative of the battle of Siddim (between a coalition of four kings and a coalition of five kings). It's stated that the king of Sodom went out to meet Avram (see Bereshit 14:17) - followed up by a storyline of Melchizedek - and afterwards the story continues (verse 21) with: And the king of Sodom said unto Abram.

But what's the deal with Melchizedek why is the story broken to inform us that Melchizedek came, why was he there in the first place? what was his business? He wasn't involved in the war right?


3 Answers 3


Ohr Hachayim explains that the purpose of the interruption of the story of Malki Tzedek placed immediately after stating that the King of Sedom went to see Avram is to emphasize and praise the merits of tzadikim (righteous people).

The contrast is that the wicked King of Sedom came to Avram empty handed. Being a king, he was wealthy enough to at least offer Avram some type of gift. In contrast, Malki Tzedek, who had no obligation to Avram at all greeted Avram with bread and wine.


Rav Hirsch points out that the king of S'dom, who had been saved by Avraham refused to acknowledge the good that he had done and what thanks he owed him. He instead tried to buy his position back. This shows the character traits that caused the destruction of the five cities.

Melchizedek, on the other hand, came to acknowledge the miracle that Hashem had performed for Avraham and to thank him and bless him for putting himself at risk. He also came to show the appropriate hospitality to the weary warriors.

Even after Melchizedek comes to thank Avraham and to refresh the weary warriors, the King of S'dom takes the wrong idea and thinks that Avraham can be bribed into giving him his due. The sentence after, shows that he totally does not understand the idea of הכרת הטוב, gratitude.

Lech Lecha 14:17-18

These two verses show a striking contrast. The King of Sodom, who must have felt very humiliated, and still more deeply indebted towards Abraham, not only allowed him to undertake the pursuit alone with his little band without joining him, but after the victory had been won, comes out to meet him entirely as a King, thinks it is already a sufficient honour for Abraham to be met on equal terms as King to King "in the valley שוה". And still he comes to beg. To ask for favours, to "demand", is what a King of Sodom understands, but to refresh the worn out, famished victors with a piece of bread, with a drink of wine, does not enter the head, forms no part of the code of manners of His Majesty of Sodom! On the other hand, Melchizedek, King of Salem, who really had nothing to do with the affair, had bread and wine brought out, but then he was also a priest to the Highest God. So that even amongst the polytheistic nations the conception of an All-highest God, אלוקא דאלוהא, a God of gods had not become entirely lost.


But even so, here at once, two points become evident. (a) where this God does hold sway the place became שלם, a home of peace and salvation, (b) is conditional on צדק, on justice, righteousness, on the just moral behavior of men.

  • At that point, he was not Avraham, but Avram. @sabbahillel consider the distinction. It is no small thing. Oct 28, 2023 at 23:13

It's to show that the spiritual world expands beyond Abraham's world. Also, Melchizedek could've been reminding Abraham - "give and take with allies, but don't take anything from your enemies".

Melchizedek was an ally. Melchizedek recognized that God helped out Abraham. But what kind of religion does Melchizedek practice? We don't know. But Melchizedek is a priest of God and he is able to see that God was with Abraham.

It's possible that Melchizedek was a mentor or guide for Abraham. Hence why Abraham gave him a tithe.

Many people have a mentor priest:

  1. Jethro the Midianite Priest gives advice to Moses in Exodus 18.
  2. The High Priest Eleazar helps Joshua.
  3. The priest of Bethel helps to guide the people of Samaria. 2 Kings 17:28
  4. Elijah mentors Elisha.

Now, one might become a conspiracy theorist and claim a heretical view that Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to the Levite priesthood. Not so! Abraham and his lineage continued where Melchizedek's priesthood left off.

The first official priests of "Jerusalem" are "Zadok" and "Ahimelech". The roots of all three relate to Melchizedek of Salem. Hence, they are continuing the mysterious priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek's priesthood is not superior to the Levite priesthood.

Melchizedek represented the old priesthood of Canaan that went astray and had to be wiped out. However, Melchizedek was righteous and had a special relationship with God. Hence why Melchizedek was able to see that God was with Abraham.

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