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Exaltation of Melchizedek

Discussion in 'Messianic Judaism' started by fremen, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    This is a text some call "Exaltationf Melchizedek" (the name is arbitrary) that was found among the slavonic copies of 2 Enoch, but appears to be part of a different corpus. Most scholars nowadays attribute it to 1st. century BC. Could this shed some light in the traditions concerning Melchizedek and the theology of Paul? I leave it up to you guys to evaluate. Undeniably this is an interesting piece of text:

    Exaltation of Melchizedek

    Chapter 1

    Behold, the wife of Nir, whose name was Sopanim, being sterile and never having at any time given birth to a child by Nir -

    Sopanim was in the time of her old age and in the day of her death. She conceived in her womb, but Nir the priest had not slept with her. From the day that that The Lord had appointed him to conduct the liturgy in front of the face of the people.

    When Sopanim saw her pregnancy, she was ashamed and embarrassed, and she hid herself during all the days until she gave birth. Not one of the people knew about it. When 282 days had been completed, and the day of birth had begun to approach, Nir remembered his wife, he called her to himself in his house, so that he might converse with her.

    Sopanim came to Nir, her husband; and, behold, she was pregnant, and the day appointed for giving birth was drawing near. Nir saw her and became very ashamed. He said to her, "What is this that you have done, O wife? Why have you disgraced me in front of the face of these people? Now, depart from me and go where you began the disgrace of your womb, so that I might not defile my hand on account of you, and sin in front of The Face of The Lord."

    Sopanim spoke to her husband, Nir, saying, "O my lord! Behold, it is the time of my old age, the day of my death has arrived. I do not understand how my menopause and the barrenness of my womb have been reversed." . Nir did not believe his wife, and for the second time he said to her, "Depart from me, or else I might assault you, and commit a sin in front of the face of The Lord."

    And it came to pass, when Nir had spoken to his wife, Sopanim, that Sopanim fell down at Nir's feet and died. Nir was extremely distressed and said in his heart, "Could this have happened because of my word? And now, merciful is The Eternal Lord, because my hand was not upon her."

    The archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir, and said to him, "Do not think that your wife Sopanim has died because of your error, but this child, which is to be born of her is a righteous fruit, and one whom I shall receive into paradise, so that you will not be the father of a gift of God."

    Nir hurried and shut the door of his house. He went to Noah, his brother, and he reported to him everything that had happened in connection with his wife. Noah hurried to the room of his brother. The appearance of his brother's wife was in death and her womb was at the time of giving birth.

    Noah said to Nir, "Don't let yourself be sorrowful, Nir, my brother! For The Lord today has covered up our scandal, in that nobody from the people knows this. Now let us go quickly and bury her, and The Lord will cover up the scandal of our shame." They placed Sopanim on the bed, wrapped her around with black garments, and shut the door. They dug a grave in secret.

    When they had gone out toward the grave, a child came out from the dead Sopanim and sat on the bed at her side. Noah and Nir came in to bury Sopanim and they saw the child sitting beside the dead Sopanim, wiping his clothing. Noah and Nir were very terrified with a great fear, because the child was fully developed physically, he spoke with his lips and blessed The Lord.

    Noah and Nir looked at him closely, saying, "This is from The Lord, my brother." And behold the badge of priesthood was on his chest, and it was glorious in appearance. Noah said to Nir, "Behold, God is renewing the priesthood from blood related to us, just as He pleases.."

    Noah and Nir hurried and washed the child, they dressed him in the garments of the priesthood, and they gave him bread to eat and he ate it. And they called him Melchizedek .

    Noah and Nir lifted up the body of Sopanim, divested her of the black garments, and washed her. They clothed her in exceptionally bright garments and built a grave for her. Noah, Nir, and Melchizedek came and they buried her publicly. Noah said to his brother Nir, "Look after this child in secret until the time, because people will become treacherous in all the earth, they will begin to turn away from God, and having become totally ignorant, and in some way when they see him, they will put him to death."

    Then Noah went away to his own place, and behold, great lawlessness began to become abundant over all the earth in the days of Nir. And Nir began to worry excessively about the child saying, "What will I do with him?" And stretching out his hands toward heaven, Nir called out to The Lord, saying, "How miserable it is for me, Eternal Lord, that all lawlessness has begun to become abundant over all the earth in my days! And I realize how much nearer our end is, on account of the lawlessness of the people. And now, Lord, what is the vision about this child, and what is his destiny, or what will I do for him, so that he too will not be joined with us in this destruction?"

    The Lord heeded Nir and appeared to him in a night vision. And He said to him, "Behold already, Nir, the great lawlessness which has come about on the earth, which I shall not tolerate anymore. Behold, I plan not to send down a great destruction onto the earth. But, concerning the child, do not worry, Nir; because I, in a short while, will send My archangel Gabriel. And he will take the child and put him in the paradise of Edem.

    He will not perish along with those who must perish. As I have revealed it, Melchizedek will be My priest to all holy priests, I will sanctify him and I will establish him so that he will be the head of the priests of the future."

    Nir arose from his sleep and blessed The Lord, Who had appeared to him saying:

    Blessed be The Lord, The God of my fathers,
    Who has not condemned my priesthood
    and the priesthood of my fathers,
    because by His Word, He has created a great priest
    in the womb of Sopanim, my wife.
    For I have no descendants.
    So let this child take the place of my descendants and become as my
    own son, and You will count him in the number of your servants."

    "Therefore honor him together with your servants and great priests and me your servant, Nir. And behold, Melchizedek will be the head of priests in another generation. I know that great confusion has come and in confusion this generation will come to an end, and everyone will perish, except that Noah, my brother, will be preserved for procreation. From his tribe, there will arise numerous people, and Melchizedek will become the head of priests reigning over a royal people who serve You, O Lord."

    Chapter 2

    It happened when the child had completed 40 days in Nir's tent, The Lord said to the archangel Gabriel, "Go down onto the earth to Nir the priest, and take the child Melchizedek, who is with him. Place him in the paradise of Edem for preservation. For the time is already approaching, and I will pour out all the water onto the earth, and everything that is on the earth will perish. And I will raise it up again, and Melchizedek will be the head of the priests in that generation." And Gabriel hurried, and came flying down when it was night, and Nir was sleeping on his bed that night. Gabriel appeared to him and said to him, "Thus says The Lord: 'Nir! Restore the child to me whom I entrusted to you.' "

    Nir did not realize who was speaking to him and his heart was confused. And he said, "When the people find out about the child, then they will seize him and kill him, because the heart of these people are deceitful in front of The Face of The Lord." And he answered Gabriel and said, "The child is not with me, and I don't know who is speaking to me."

    Gabriel answered him, "Do not be frightened, Nir! I am the archangel Gabriel. The Lord sent me and behold, I shall take your child today. I will go with him and I will place him in the paradise of Edem."

    Nir remembered the first dream and believed it. He answered Gabriel, "Blessed be The Lord, who has sent you to me today! Now bless your servant Nir! Take the child and do to him all that has been said to you." And Gabriel took the child, Melchizedek on the same nught on his wings, and he placed him in the paradise of Edem. Nir got up in the morning, and he went into his tent and did not find the child. There was great joy and grief for Nir because had the child in place of a son.

    Chapter 3

    The Lord said to Noah, "Make an ark with 300 cubits in length, in width 50 cubits and in height 30 cubits. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; and make it with two stories in the middle" The Lord God opened the doors of heaven. Rain came onto the earth and all flesh died.

    Noah fathered 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. He went into the ark in his six hundredth year. After the flood, he lived 350 years. He lived in all 950 years, according to The Lord our God.

    To our God be Glory always, now and in the ages of the ages. AMEN.
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  2. ContraMundum

    ContraMundum Messianic Jewish Christian Supporter

    Many among the early Christian fathers believed Melchizedek was Shem. It is believed that the blessing passed from Noah to Shem was then passed to Abraham and then on down the line etc to the followers of Jesus (given to them in Jn 20:22,23). It's not hard to trace a succession of blessings in the scriptures to demonstrate that, but it's besides the point, as the illustration about Jesus being a priest according to the order of Melchizidek is not about a physical lineage, but about a priesthood coming from outside of the Levitical lineage, as did Melchizedek's.
  3. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    I am aware that this is the traditional Jewish understanding of the identitiy of Melchizedek, yes. However, it is not by a wide margin the only understanding there was concerning the identity of Melchizedek in the Second Temple period. The DSS are a proof of that. I see the view of Shem as Melchizedek biblically possible, but not biblically proven. There's nothing in the text that indicates that. But would this view of Melchizedek as Shem not contradict the NT understanding that Melchizedek had no known genealogy? I'm asking this not in any attempt to "expose" anything or to accuse anyone of anything but this is the first time I come across a Christian who believes Shem was Melchizedek and I was wondering how that may align with the Pauline theology concerning Melchizedek, which seems to be much more in-line with the DSS position than the traditional view as expressed in the Talmud.

    Kol tov,

  4. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    No, it is overwhelmingly understood in academics that the Second Book of Enoch comes from the late 1st century CE (NOT bce as you indicate) and most scholars believe it to come from Christian sources not Jewish.

  5. visionary

    visionary Your God is my God... Ruth said, so say I. Supporter

    It is interesting that there was a group of people back then when the book was written who believed that Melchizedek would be born of virgin enough to write it down to be passed on. If it was as ST says, something that was written after Yeshua, it makes it even stranger still. Like it was one of the subject up for discussion and debate, so it was decided that it needs to be recorded... rather than an oral tradition.
  6. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    You are referring to 2 Enoch as a whole. I am referring to this particular text, which is in fact omitted by several manuscripts. Charles' translation, for example, excludes it. Yes, most of 2 Enoch is supposed to be from 1st Century CE. But there are hardly any scholars who pinpoint the whole of 2 Enoch to a single point in time, as there has been several redaction changes. For example, it reflects a much later calendrical system (probably gregorian?) Anyway, it is widely agreed that this portion is one of the earliest pieces, and there's been considerable defense of the earliest portions of 2 Enoch belonging to the Second Temple Era, especially this text. Some say that this text having Melchizedek being born of a virgin would've been an embarassment to early Christianity.

    Kol tov,

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  7. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    Exactly! This piece of text was redacted (added) later, thus making it even more spurious than II Enoch as a whole.
    You're right, the debate rages as to where it falls, anywhere from late 1st century CE to 10th century CE!
    Yes, even more so than I Enoch or III Enoch.
    This piece is missing from most texts that have been unearthed.... which would lead one to believe just the opposite, no?
    I don't know why? Most scholars consider II Enoch a spurious Christian text that has been heavily redacted beyond belief. In fact, the argument continues today if this text dates as early as 10th century CE. That would be faaarrrr removed from the Second Temple.

    All I'm really getting at is that one can not put much stock into II Enoch, especially this portion of the text which was obviously redacted.

    my 2 cents,
  8. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    For more reliability in a text, and continued interest in Enoch, I would refer the serious student to examine I Enoch. Its heavy presence in the DSS library is compelling to say the least. Moreove, the NT quotes I Enoch.
  9. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    Who said it was authentic?

    Actually, some say 1st century BC, and even Second Temple Era for some portions.

    Since when did this become a canon/inspiration/authenticity debate? The only point was an interesting concept that turned out in this manuscript, that's all. There are several ideas concerning Melchizedek which stem from a wide variety of traditions, and I just thought about sharing one. No need to make such a fuss about this. In fact, this whole "which book is inspired and which isn't" is far more a Christian thing than a Jewish thing. And nobody was going that direction.

    Kol tov,
  10. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    The idea was to show a line of thought in Melchizedek tradition, and not to discuss Enoch or even, as scholars have called it, "Enochian Judaism". Which is an interesting subject though. Just not where I was going.

    Kol tov,

  11. anisavta

    anisavta Never Forget!

    So 2 Enoch could indeed be one of the many psuedopigrapha books floating around.
  12. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    Excellent eye Anisavta. Yes, it is part of the Old Testament Psuedepigrapha. The full scholastic list of all the Psuedepigraphal books are as follows:

    * 1 Enoch
    * 2 Enoch
    * 3 Enoch
    * 2 Baruch
    * 3 Baruch
    * 4 Baruch
    * 3 Esdras
    * 4 Esdras
    * 5 Ezra
    * 6 Ezra
    * 3 Maccabees
    * 4 Maccabees
    * 5 Maccabees
    * 6 Maccabees
    * 7 Maccabees
    * 8 Maccabees
    * Adam Octipartite
    * Adjuration of Elijah
    * Apocalypse of Abraham
    * Apocalypse of Adam
    * Apocalypse of Elijah
    * Apocalypse of Ezekiel
    * Apocalypse of Sedrach
    * Apocalypse of the Seven Heavens
    * Apocalypse of Zephaniah
    * Apocryphon of Ezekiel
    * Apocryphon of Jacob and Joseph
    * Apocryphon of Melchizedek
    * Apocryphon of the Ten Tribes
    * Ascension of Moses
    * Assumption of Moses
    * Book of Assaf
    * Book of Noah
    * Cave of Treasures
    * Coptic Apocryphon of Jeremiah
    * Eldad and Modad
    * Enochic Book of Giants
    * Epistle of Rehoboam
    * Greek Apocalypse of Daniel
    * Greek Apocalypse of Ezra
    * History of Joseph
    * History of the Rechabites
    * Jannes and Jambres
    * Joseph and Aseneth
    * Jubilees
    * Ladder of Jacob
    * Letter of Aristeas
    * Life of Adam and Eve
    * Lives of the Prophets
    * Manual of Discipline
    * Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
    * Odes of Solomon
    * Prayer of Jacob
    * Prayer of Joseph
    * Psalms of Solomon
    * Questions of Ezra
    * Revelation of Ezra
    * Sibylline Oracles
    * Signs of the Judgement
    * Sword of Moses
    * Testament of Abraham
    * Testament of Adam
    * Testament of Isaac
    * Testament of Jacob
    * Testament of Job
    * Testament of Moses
    * Testament of Solomon
    * Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs
    * Treatise of Shem
    * Vision of Ezra
    * Visions of Heaven and Hell
    * Words of Gaz the Seer

    (note that this list also contains much of the Intertestamental books, ie: the Apocrypha)

    However, the most generally accepted Psuedepigraphal cannon is as follows (what you'll typically find referenced):
    * The Books of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Latin version
    * Life of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Slavonic version
    * Life of Adam and Eve -- translation of the Greek version (a.ka. The Apocalypse of Moses)
    * The Apocalypse of Adam
    * The Book of Adam
    * The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
    * 1 Enoch (Ethiopic Apocalypse of Enoch)
    * 1 Enoch Composit (inc. Charles, Lawrence & others)
    * 2 Enoch (Slavonic Book of the Secrets of Enoch)
    * Enoch (another version)
    * Melchizedek
    * The Book of Abraham
    * The Testament of Abraham
    * The Apocalypse of AbrahamNEW July 18, 2004
    * Joseph and Aseneth
    * Selections from The Book of Moses
    * Revelation of Moses
    * The Assumption of Moses (aka: The Testament of Moses)
    * The Martyrdom of Isaiah
    * The Ascension of Isaiah
    * The Revelation of Esdras
    * The Book of Jubilees
    * Tales of the Patriarchs
    * The Letter of Aristeas
    * The Book of the Apocalypse of Baruch (aka: 2 Baruch)
    * The Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (aka: 3 Baruch)
    * Fragments of a Zadokite work (aka: The Damascus Document)
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  13. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    Well, if its completely spurious, why would you draw dogmatic inspiration from the texts????

    hmm, this is news to me. Most serious scholastic circles (Princeton & the Hebrew University in Jerusalem specifically) doubt the book of II Enoch was contemporary with the DSS. As the oldest text found dates back to 10th century ce, we can only use textual criticism in dating, and from the textual clues given most geneally assume late 1st century or possibly 2nd.
    Maybe I misunderstood or maybe you implied more than you intended? It seemed to me you wanted to draw theological conclusions using the text. My point is that this practice is dangerous when using an obviously spurious text! Nothing more. I appologize if I've upset you somehow.

    I haven't been a single ounce emotional about the issue. Please, calm down, no fuss.... its all good mate ;)

    Whoa whoa whoa! I never.... NEVER mentioned inspiration! I mentioned "spurious" in reference to its deceptive and heavily redacted origins! I agree with you, inspiration and cannon are generally a Christian playbook, one little used by the Jewish mindset. Judaism has held through the centuries an idea of levels of inspiration. The Torah, coming straight from the mouth of G-d, is of highest inspiration. Then the Nevi'im, Ketuvim, then halacha, and other writings. Jews even believve words that come out of your own mouth could have some hint of inspiration to them. The idea of a closed cannon is a soley Christian idea, I agree with you there. But no, this discussion (and my points) were not in reference to inspiration!

    On that, we definitely agree!

    Ah, I see. There is also a veerrrry rich heritage in Jewish commentary regarding Melchizedek.

    As for the books of Enoch, they hold a special line of interest for me ;)
  14. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    The book of Enoch (the first one) should be especially intriguing to Christians.... Jude 6, Gen 6, 1st Peter 3:19-20, and 2nd Peter 2:4 immediately come to mind, though there are more passages that either directly quote or refer to the Book of Enoch. Its historical importance (and theological importance) really should be known to all Christians. I'm surprised so few are familiar with it! I'm glad you brought up the topic fremen
  15. fremen

    fremen Regular Member

    It's part of the canon of the Ethiopian church is it not? So at least to some degree there are Christians who accept it. The Ethiopian canon is basically the same as the LXX canon plush Jubilees and Enoch and different Maccabees tales (which most scholars see as a later attempt to replace lost scrolls), much like what has been found at the Dead Sea Caves. Not all books have been found, but those that have seem to go in that direction. Considering Divrei HaYamim produced only two verses in the DSS so far, I wouldn't be surprised if we find more some time from now.

    What is particularly interesting is that the Ethiopian church is the most fascinating Christian church ever, IMHO. They have Shabbat, cashrus, a replica of the Aron habrit and actual priests officiating to it. They're almost a kind of "messianic catholic" church, only theirs is a historical movement.

    Since it is told that they were far apart from the other churches, and thus remained closer to their original vision, they may be good material to study some of the roots of Christianity and even discover which kind of Judaism they descend from.

    Many have proposed that "Enochian Judaism", which was sort of a fringe movement outside the Temple which based itself off Enochian traditions to justify their authority, was far closer to what gave birth to Christianity than traditional Judaism itself.

    Kol tov,

  16. simchat_torah

    simchat_torah Got Torah?

    yup. Its fascinating stuffs ;)