I’d like to post at Dews From Heaven now on the Melchizedek verses, but I think I have too many tangents and details in my head to write a clear, productive post. So thankfully I have two blogs, so I can work out all those tangents here instead!
And now on to Alma’s solid example of everything he’s been talking about: Melchizedek.
Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.
1- They humbled themselves, 2-he was a high priest, did they not already think of him that way? 3-this order after which I have spoken, does that mean that this order is not familiar to them? 4-I can see that the order would be contrary to the government of the city and might bother the leaders, 5-“also” as another person, or “also” as in another thing he did? “also” as in everyone who is a high priest takes upon them the high priesthood forever? 6-Is this the oath of the oath and covenant, that the priesthood holder will hold the priesthood forever? Wait, maybe not, since I think we decided all receive that oath not just priesthood holders. So I guess it is an oath, but not always the oath mentioned when an oath is connected to the priesthood.
15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.
1-this makes it sound like they were familiar with Melchizedek as he related to Abraham, but not familiar with him as a separate story and someone who was a high priest. That wasn’t their association with the name, just that he was connected to Abraham. One way to read verse 15 anyway. 2-“Even Abraham paid tithes! Was humble! Followed an order!” Is that the idea of this? or is the “even” here just a way to move the sentence along? 3-why define tithing? 4-could be saying: “Abraham was so great, and if he paid tithes to Melchizedek, imagine how great he was!”
16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
1-I agree it fits better elsewhere, but let’s look at it where it stands for now 2-the ordinances could still refer back to the office of high priest. We just heard that Melchizedek was a high priest and took on himself the high priesthood forever. The part about Abraham could definitely be put in parenthesis. So that would mean that the rest of verse 16 is describing the people in Melchizedek’s city. I think that works just fine. It’s a reminder of what we’ve already learned, now applied to Melchizedek. 3-It could refer to Abraham himself. It could be that Abraham is setting the example of humbling himself before Melchizedek by the ordinance of tithing. If we were to bring in some JST information here, we could add that Melchizedek gave him quite the blessing, which, perhaps, was even Abraham’s blessing to the Holy Order. If that’s a fair enough reading and that information was known to the Nephites, then “these ordinances” could mean all that Abraham received right then and not just the act of paying tithing. That seems unlikely to me, because I think if that were the case Alma would add more information right in this chapter (since Alma is already having a hard enough time convincing the people that the high priesthood works the way he says it does!). He could use Abraham’s story for more evidence. Since he doesn’t bring that up, I don’t think it was in their scriptures. 4-The rest of this we’ve discussed already in the last post. I think #2 is a very good reading.
17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;
1-I liked the detail that he was a king first, that the city existed first, and was wicked first, and then he did the great things he did. Enoch and Abraham worked a different way. They received the priesthood and then they went out and gathered and then built a city (or in Abraham’s case, his people are still waiting to build that city of Zion!)
18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.
1-This verse has the same elements as verse 8 but not with the exact same words or order. Melchizedek had faith, he had the priesthood, and he did preach. Since the part about preaching comes after “having” and “received,” it seems to me to imply that those first to were in preparation for the last. We have worked up the reading that priests were ordained to teach, and here Melchizedek goes out preaching after he receives the priesthood. 2-They did repent – yay! 3-Peace in the land. That’s all he says. Peace as in no wickedness? Peace as in no wars? (Enoch could command rivers to move etc to block their enemies. Could Melchizedek? The JST suggests so!) 4-He was called the “prince of peace.” Abraham wants to be a “prince of peace” (Abraham 1). 5-Why mention that he served under his father? I think this is the only place where we get this detail in all of scripture. Why mention it? Is he simply making sure to explain why he is a “prince”? Is he trying to emphasize that every person is under someone else in this priesthood hierarchy?
19 Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.
1-This sounds like D&C language, 2-seems to be justifying the existence of high priests — there have been many! I’m not making this stuff up! 🙂 3-Reason to talk about him lots. But even so, it seemed like he had to connect Melchizedek to Abraham for the story to have real traction with the Nephite audience. 4- who is “they?” whoever wrote after Genesis was written I guess? Or including Genesis I guess?
20 Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.
The scriptures are before them, but how well had they read them? Alma feels like they don’t have any idea about the high priesthood as it appears in scripture, apparently. First verse in the next chapter we find out that the people go home and study their scriptures. And that is part of why the leaders have them burned — scriptural literacy is too dangerous! Note that they burn the scriptures too. So the people weren’t apparently too familiar with them, or else the people in power probably wouldn’t have been in power in the first place. Though, Antionah did bring up a scriptural example to try to counter Alma. So maybe they were, but weren’t looking at the right places. That’s possible. Very possible. (Tangent- that reminds me of my reading of how plain and precious things were taken out of the Bible. I think that certain parts were not emphasized, and then over time theology grew up around those parts and eventually those parts didn’t make sense, so they were taken out. Also I think some of those parts are still there but have been so reinterpreted that we don’t even notice them ourselves! I’m thinking mostly of the Abrahamic Covenant.)
Okay, so there are my thoughts laid out. So I guess it’s time to work on the Dews From Heaven post next.