Genesis 14:18

Hebrew Bible

16 He retrieved all the stolen property. He also brought back his nephew Lot and his possessions, as well as the women and the rest of the people. 17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram in the Valley of Shaveh (known as the King’s Valley). 18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.) 19 He blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 Worthy of praise is the Most High God, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

Avot D'Rabbi Natan 2


What was the fence that Job made around his words? It says (Job 1:5), “A pure and righteous man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” This teaches us that Job distanced himself from anything that would bring him to sin, from any ugliness, and from anything even resembling ugliness. If that is so, then why do we have to also learn that he was “a pure and righteous man”? But instead, this is here to teach us that Job emerged [from the womb] already circumcised. Adam also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 1:24), “And God created the person in His image.” Seth also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 5:2), “He had a child in his likeness and image.” Noah also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 6:9), “A just and pure man in his generation.” Shem also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 14:18), “Malkitzedek, king of Shalem.” Malkitzedek is understood in rabbinic tradition to be Shem. The Hebrew word shalem means “complete.” Jacob also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 25:27), “Jacob was a pure man, who sat in tents.” Joseph also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Genesis 37:2), “This is the progeny of Jacob: Joseph.” But shouldn’t it say [instead]: This is the progeny of Jacob: Reuben? What do we learn from [the fact that it says] Joseph? [We learn] that just as Jacob emerged already circumcised, (so, too,) Joseph emerged already circumcised. Moses also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Exodus 2:2), “She saw that he was good.” And what did his mother see in him that was lovelier and more praiseworthy than any other person? That he emerged circumcised. Bil’am the wicked also came out circumcised, as it says (Numbers 24:4), “The word of him who hears God’s speech.” (Samuel also emerged circumcised, as it says [I Samuel 2:26], “Young Samuel continued to grow and was good.”) David also emerged circumcised – as it says (Psalms 16:1), “A mikhtam3A ketem (which has the same Hebrew letters as mikhtam) can mean a type of spot or marking. of David. (Protect me, for I seek refuge in You).” Jeremiah also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Jeremiah 1:5), “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you; and before you came out of the womb I consecrated you.” Zerubbabel also emerged already circumcised, as it says (Haggai 2:23), “On that day (I will take,) [declares the Eternal of Hosts, I will take] Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, declares the Eternal.” And it says (Job 31:1), “I have made a covenant with my eyes, so how can I gaze at a maiden [i.e., an unmarried woman]?” This teaches that Job was strict with himself and would not even look at a maiden. And if with a maiden – whom he could marry if he wished (to his son, to his daughter, or to [another] family member) – he was strict with himself and would not look at her, then all the more so [would he never look at] a married woman! And why was he so strict with himself not to look even at a maiden? Because Job said to himself: Perhaps I will look today, and tomorrow another man will come along and marry her, and then I will have looked at a married woman.

 Notes and References

"... The Jewish reaction to the Christian appropriation of Melchizedek is twofold and each trend is diametrically opposed to the other: either Melchizedek is relocated well within Judaism or or his importance is downplayed. According to the midrash, Melchizedek was born circumcised. The widely attested identification of Melchizedek with Noah’s son Shem in the Targum and in Rabbinic literature counters both the claim of a heavenly figure ‘without father or mother’ and of Melchizedek being uncircumcised. Nevertheless this is not yet conclusive proof that this Jewish motif originated as a form of polemics with Christianity for it may have served an exegetical purpose, explaining Shem still being alive at the time of Abraham (Genesis 11:11). However, the following Talmudic text is undoubtedly polemical against Christian exaltation of Melchizedek (b. Nedarim 32b) ... The elevation of Abraham at the expense of Melchizedek is so foreign to the description of Melchizedek in Scripture that a polemical intent may be assumed. Melchizedek’s priesthood is no longer eternal, but transferred to Abraham already from the outset ..."

Poorthuis, Marcel Saints and Role Models in Judaism and Christianity (pp. 97-120) Brill, 2004

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