Tag Archives: Melchizedek

Enoch/Noah and Melchizedek/Abraham


Today’s study in the perpetual quest to understand priesthood, Abrahamic Covenant, and so forth, focused on the phrase “Prince of Peace.”

It only comes up a few times in scripture, and to me, seems to indicate someone who has created or can create peace in a city. Enoch created peace and so created a Zion. Melchizedek created peace and also had a Zion-like city.

The JST of Gen 14:33, 36 talks about Melchizedek being called a Prince of Peace because of the work he did, and so does Alma 13:18.

Several places in scripture also talk about Enoch and those called after his order being given powers over the mountains, rivers, etc. — and Enoch used these powers to defend his Zion city. They didn’t fight; the earth just diverted the opposing army and they didn’t need to fight!

Today, also, I was comparing Enoch’s effect on Noah to Melchizedek’s effect on Abraham. I have noted that Noah’s time was so wicked in part because Enoch had spent over 300 years gathering the righteous into Zion, and by Noah’s time the city had been removed from the earth. So Noah was working with those who were left/descendants of those who were left.

But, Noah needed to stay on the earth, because someone needed to preserve the work of preaching the gospel through the generations. The families of the earth, the generations of the earth, needed someone around! And there was a promise to Enoch that his seed would be the chosen seed, which means that his seed would always been found on the earth until the end of the world.

So, Noah was needed on earth and not in Zion.

If we compare this situation to Abraham, I think we’ll find it similar in many ways. We read in the Bible and in revealed LDS scripture that Abraham and Melchizedek were alive at the same time. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. But we also read that Melchizedek created a Zion-like city. (Alma 13:18 and JST of Genesis 14 are good places to read.) If Abraham was yearning after a new place to live (see Abraham 1), and if he was a righteous man that God approved of, why didn’t Abraham join Melchizedek’s city?

But again, let’s compare this to Noah and Enoch. We don’t read that Melchizedek’s city was taken to heaven, but whether it was or not they were a city separated out from the other nations. Perhaps Abraham’s role was similar to Noah’s — we  need someone to wander about and teach the gospel; we need someone to preserve the gospel for future generations; we need someone to continue to be the chosen seed and bear children of that chosen seed.

So perhaps like Noah, Abraham was needed on earth and not in Zion.

This could be why God says to Abraham: “As it was with Noah, so shall it be with thee” (Ab. 1:18).

In some ways, that also sounds like Adam and Eve. They could have stayed in Eden, but they wouldn’t have born children and had a chance to learn of and preach the gospel. (There are complications there.) But anyway, their work outside Eden is similar to Noah and Abraham. Proclaim the gospel, preserve the gospel to their children, and watch over a chosen seed.

 

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A few notes from Study Group on D&C 84:39


  • The words “oath” and “covenant” from D&C 84:39 are clearly drawn from Hebrews, as any one in Joseph’s time would have recognized.
  • Note that God made oath and covenant, that it’s His (D&C 84:40). Not actually a covenant we make with God! This is one sided when it is made, and then we are told/asked to receive it.
  • D&C 132:22-25 are very worth looking at, as well as JST Genesis 14!
  • The language of confirmed is related to oaths and covenants in Bible.
  • Where else does “oath and covenant” come up together, as a phrase? In the Book of Mormon! But it always means oaths and covenants of robbers, bad secret society. Is the priesthood meant to be thought of as the “good” secret society? The one that counters the bad?
  • The consequence for breaking an oath or covenant in a bad secret society is usually death! Severe consequence. D&C 84:41 is also severe.
  • Interesting that it’s not about this life, as D&C 132 talks about (hard time this life, ok in next)
  • The good secret society. It is a fundamental change in how we relate to other people. [Tangent here about how even when we as Latter-day Saints don’t understand all that this gospel is or how deep and wonderful the covenants are, there is still a change in how we relate to others. There are all sorts of “fringe benefits”that come even from the watered-down version of things. And the real vision is still buried in there, still being carried along by the church members even though we don’t realize it.
  • Now, some notes/thoughts from what Don shared with us:
  • “According to” usually means we’re referring to something just talked about, or to something clearly established. This “accords” with that previous thing.
  • This seems to accord with Hebrews, which refers back to Psalms
  • But also, look at Gen 14 “order of the covenant” also “oath by himself”
  • JST Hebrews was worked on only 7 months earlier, and Joseph had just gone back through it about this time. So not only would the audience have thought about Hebrews, Joseph was thinking about Hebrews a lot during this time
  • Some sort of “everlasting covenant” talked about in stories of David and others but Hebrews might be only place in NT (Heb 13:20).
  • The JST of Hebrews 9 changes testament to covenant
  • JST Hebrews 7:19 adds “without an oath” Law was administered without an oath
  • JST Deut 10:2 adds “save words of everlasting covenant of priesthood” (second tablets did not have words of the covenant)
  • So with JST changes, Deut says law did not have words of covenant, and Hebrews says law did not have oath
  • D&C 84:25 God took Moses and priesthood out from them (=took words of covenant & no oath?)
  • Similar to 1 Ne 13 – took plain and precious from gospel, even many covenants. Then took from book.
  • D&C 132:19 – what is “it”?  everlasting covenant (later in 19: as hath been sealed upon their heads)
  • b/c everlasting covenant from JST Gen 14 = godhood, this makes sense.
  • D&C 132:19 and JST Gen 14 both use principalities and powers
  • D&C 84:42 “by mine own voice” also in JST Gen 14:29 and Hebrews (and Alma 13 – called)
  • Oaths – Hebrews talks about Abraham’s oath, and Christ’s priesthood oath
  • “confirm” talked about in Hebrews 7 and D&C 84:39-42
  • D&C 132:59 by mine own voice Aaron Hebrews also says called of God
  • back to covenants taken out: Covenant given to Adam etc, then missing until Abraham, then missing until Moses, then missing until Christ, then missing until Joseph Smith
  • covenant is received, as we emphasized earlier. Given by God, oath made by God. Receive covenant, receive oath, over and over. Alma 13, God ordains. God calls. D&C 84:40, D&C 66:  , D&C 132:27.
  • Consequences come after that is clear D&C 132:27, D&C 84:41
  • In 1831 office of high priest given, thought of as sealing lots of things, even sealing up to eternal life
  • D&C 84 was in 1832 developed, but think context of sealing up to eternal life
  • Joseph Smith’s later discourses, Moses’s people won’t accept last stage the gift of eternal life. Why did they reject? don’t know. D&C 84 says same thing didn’t want to enter God’s rest, see face to face. See discourses maybe March 1844
  • Receive everlasting covenant, not obey everlasting covenant.
  • Joseph Smith’s creativity with everything (laws on polygamy, etc.) may reflect his position of receiving this higher law and power, like Nephi (in Helaman), Enoch, etc. They had power to move rivers, mountains, create famines, etc.
  • did Joseph’s confidence come from lost 116 pages? God has many ways of doing His work, He is wise, I can’t ruin it, in for the ride

D&C 107 thoughts, after re-reading D&C 84 blog comments


I re-read everything we’d written at Dews From Heaven on D&C 84’s verses on lineage, and then now I am working through D&C 107. I’m noticing some interesting things!

  • We noticed before that sometimes the priesthood goes through “lineage of his fathers” and sometimes there is a list of names. Well! In D&C 84 and in D&C 107, Melchizedek seems to be a sort of changing point. It appears that previous to Melchizedek the priesthood always went father-to-son, but with Melchizedek something changes. It is with him that the name of the priesthood gets changed too. Is this because a “church” organization had developed that was different than family? (D&C 107 says the church called the priesthood after Melchizedek.) Does D&C 84 point out that Esaias was blessed by Abraham but not necessarily ordained, because Melchizedek was the leader of the church and Esaias would have been ordained by him? (or by God, I guess, as D&C 84 says)
  • In D&C 107, verse 40 sounds like it is picking up from verse 3 in a way. The “order” of this priesthood sounds like it is referring to the “order of the Son of God.”
  • what about “blessed” referring to “chosen seed”? In D&C 107 ordination and blessing seem to be two separate events or actions. What does blessed refer to? Just a blessing of counsel — or something specific? What about being blessed as in being sealed into the family line? What about blessed as in what Abraham sought after – the blessings of the fathers, and the right to administer the same?

————-

  • I think I was a bit to hasty with the idea of “father to son.” D&C 107 and D&C 84 complicate that idea. D&C 84 just says “lineage of his fathers” and D&C 107 says that Adam himself ordained most of the patriarchs. I have to remember that Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah were all alive together at the same time! And each of those men were ordained by Adam himself. So, that being the case, there isn’t really a problem with one list going back to Abel and one back to Seth. Both were ordained of Adam, just like at least six others within “the lineage of the fathers.” In other words, I was confused by there being two different fathers passing the priesthood on to their own sons and somehow this being one family line. But rather, I see that Adam ordains — the father, the patriarch ordains his sons. And grandson. And great-grandson. And great-great-grandson. 🙂 And so this really isn’t a
    “passing on” anyway. It is an inclusion in a group (a priest-hood). So maybe D&C 107’s reference to father to son might simply mean patriarch to descendants?

Fascinating D&C 84…


And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;

Are they sons according to, or because of, the Holy Priesthood? Being his heir to the priesthood makes you a type of son? Or will the “sons of Moses” do something according to the Holy Priesthood?

Why why why why is there a separate chain of priesthood authority that runs from Abraham’s time to Jethro? That is so fascinating to me! I read the Bible and I assume that all of God’s work was going on through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s line. The whole Book of Mormon project is to unite Gentile and Israel – those seem to be the only two groups in the world. But here we have a covenant, non-Israelite group with the priesthood. And not only that, that group has the very Melchizedek priesthood that is passed on to Moses and so forth. Crazy! 🙂 The Bible really is the story of one covenant people!

And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb; And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu; And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy; And Jeremy under the hand of Gad; And Gad under the hand of Esaias; And Esaias received it under the hand of God.

Here too, we find that God started a chain of priesthood authority. Esaias was blessed by Abraham (next verse) but he didn’t receive the priesthood from Abraham. Amazing!

Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—

What kind of blessing are we talking about, I wonder?

Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—

And this is a detail we don’t get from Genesis or even the Book of Abraham. Abraham was not only blessed by Melchizedek, he received the priesthood from him. And the Bible sees Melchizedek as without father or mother, which, while I assume doesn’t mean literally, I had sometimes taken that to mean that he received the priesthood straight from God and not because of his lineage. But, here it says he did receive it through the lineage of his fathers! Yikes! 🙂 Abraham does say he held the right belonging to the fathers, which came down from the fathers, though his immediate fathers didn’t believe. Maybe he was related to Melchizedek? Or, he wasn’t, but he knew Melchizedek was related to this line of fathers?

Also, I can’t understand why this chain goes back to Abel, when the Book of Moses suggests that Seth became the new priesthood line. But I don’t think there are enough details to riddle that out, so I’ll let that one go.

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

Two thoughts here. One, the description of the priesthood being without beginning of days or end of years is similar to Kim’s discussion of priesthood in the Alma 13 posts. Two, what do we make of the priesthood that continues in the church of God in all generations? Is the emphasis on “in the church” or “in all generations”? Whenever there is a church, then there is priesthood? and this is true in every generation in which there is a church established? Or, somewhere on the earth there is always a church established in which the priesthood can be preserved? Jethro is an interesting example of that, perhaps. As well as the Nephities having the priesthood at times when those in the Old World did not (it seems). Other thoughts on this?

And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

The impression I’ve gotten in the past is that the Lord came up with the idea to invent a “lesser” priesthood when the Israelites rejected the higher priesthood. I think before that it was all just “priesthood” in a full, sealing-power-and-all sense. Israel rejects this, but at the same time is a covenant people with the possibility of working on the Abrahamic Covenant again, and God finds a way to keep them a covenant people even in their weakness. I don’t know if that’s at all right, but it’s the sense I’ve had in the past.

Verse 18 here may or may not challenge that reading. We have “confirmed a priesthood” on Aaron, but there’s nothing that gives me a sense whether this is a new idea or a priesthood order that has always existed. That’s a good way to put it — the priesthood power had always been there, and the ordinances, but the sense I’ve had in the past was that a new order was created with certain responsibilities.

This verse does point out the existence of this order going forward: “continueth and abideth forever.” Whether it’s absorbed into the higher priesthood at some point is just pure speculation, as far as I have come across.

If I’m correct (that’s a big “if”), then we have a  “new” but “forever” scenario, which is similar to the phrase the “new and everlasting covenant.” I’m not suggesting that they are the same thing at all, but I’m curious about a similar construction. I’ve wondered about those words “new” but “everlasting.” I suppose I should have thought about this as I do the Aaronic priesthood: created at a certain point but going on forever. But as I’ve studied the new and everlasting covenant it seems to me that it is a restoration of the covenants given to Abraham. So it’s not a new thing, is it? Maybe it’s a new embodiment of those covenants? Later in D&C 84 we’ll get a phrase I really like — “covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you.” It isn’t a covenant that has been newly created, but newly made again. It’s like renewing the loan of a library book — things are back as if you had just checked it out for the first time. That’s the way I personally like to think of the phrase “new and everlasting covenant.”

But coming back to Aaron and his sons: from what you’ve read in scripture and elsewhere, do you think that the Aaronic priesthood order was created new at that time, or that it was already in existence?

 

(Similar post & thoughts on these same verses here: https://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/initial-reactions-to-dc-84-6-18/#comments)


Abraham wanting to be a Prince of Peace


After reading the JST for Genesis 14, I am left with some questions about how Abraham relates to Melchizedek.

Was Melchizedek an example for him? Did Abraham go to him in order to receive his priesthood? Abraham says, “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same,” and finally that “I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers” (Abr. 1:2). Could that be referring to this particular visit with Melchizedek? The last verse of the JST for Genesis 14 says that:

And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.

It doesn’t mention the priesthood or appointments or promises concerning seed, etc., but, it does mention a covenant, and also a blessing given by Melchizedek. Who knows, but it could be that he received his appointment to the priesthood from Melchizedek (since Abraham says he received it from the fathers — he had to receive it from someone, and I don’t know of any reference of him going to see any other priesthood holder). Anyway, fun speculation, as always.

Also, Abraham seeks to be a “Prince of Peace” in Abraham 1:2, which is what Melchizedek was just called. Did Abraham want to do what Melchizedek was doing? Was he hoping Melchizedek could ordain him to be the same? Did he? But, if I understand right, Melchizedek was translated to heaven, but Abraham wanders on the earth. Was he appointed to stay on earth, like Noah was after Enoch’s city left? (see Moses 7:42). Abraham is even compared to Noah in Abraham 1:19, though I’m not sure exactly what the connection is (“As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee.”) Was Abraham seeking to be someone who built up a city, but instead, was given the promise that he would be a father, rather than a prince or king? I think there might be some interesting things to think about there.

Abraham will have lands for an “everlasting possession,” but his promised city is set in the future: “a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice” (Abr 2:6). The land that could be made into a celestial city isn’t given to Abraham in his lifetime: there is no possibility of building up a city for Abraham. It is something his future seed will need to do. But in addition, his seed is charged with teaching the whole world in such a way that anyone and everyone can be a part of Abraham’s seed (Abr. 2:9-11)! Abraham sought to be a “Prince of Peace,” but perhaps he got instead the promise of being a father over, really, the rest of the world’s posterity. Interesting trade!

But going back to the JST again, at the least it seems to be that Abraham gets his blessings, whatever they amount to, in return for his tithing. It says, “Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had … more than that which he had need.” Melchizedek is “the keeper of the storehouse,” and the one “God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.” And in return, Melchizedek, “being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God,” “lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram” with riches, honor, lands. It sounds more like consecration of Joseph Smith’s time: consecrate what you have, and you will be given a stewardship back!

I don’t know if I’ve got any right answers, but I do think there are definitely details in there that deserve some more thinking!


Quick thoughts on Genesis 14


18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

Sealer of heaven and earth, perhaps? And is he receiving that power right then? Or a declaration of what is already the case?

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.

Delivered into his hands by miraculous means, such as those Enoch used?

And he gave him tithes of all.

Now I see how some have read this as Melchizedek giving Abraham goods out of the storehouse. Then Abraham says he won’t take anything from Sodom, because it was God (via Melchizedek) that made Abraham rich, not Sodom. Elsewhere we have it said that Abraham paid tithes, but it’s still an interesting reading. And Melchizedek does seem to have given Abraham goods from the storehouse in JST verse 40.

21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

“The possessor of heaven and earth” is still such an intriguing phrase to me. Does this have any relation to the sealing power described in D&C 128 and elsewhere? The sealer of heaving and earth?

23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.


Working on Alma 13:14-20


I’m interested on why on earth Alma talks about tithing in verse 15. Is it just to talk about how Abraham (a marker of time for the Nephites) relates to Melchizedek? Does the talk of Abraham paying tithes Melchizedek function something like the discussion in Hebrews 7:4, again setting up a relationship (“Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils”)? Is there actually a reason to bring it up, and even to define it (“yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed”)? Some, trying to wrestle with verse 16, have wondered if tithing was an “ordinance” which was given after a “manner” so that people “looked forward on the Son of God,” and that somehow tithing was  a part of the Holy Order of God? At first I would have ruled out the last one, but right now all of the above seem viable options!

One option I want to explore this morning is that there really is a reason to bring up tithing specifically, right here, because it may actually really have a connection to the priesthood discussion in this chapter.

I want to draw some thoughts from the JST of Genesis 14. This is where Abraham (Abram) meets up with Melchizedek and pays these tithes, but we get lots more information about their meeting. I am not suggesting that Alma had what we had in our JST, since the connections between the JST and the brass plates have never been uncovered. Rather, I’m going to notice some patterns and themes in the JST that might open up some helpful possibilities while reading Alma 13. (Here is a link to the passage from the JST.)

In the following commentary, I’m going to be looking at both how the JST contains patterns and language similar to Alma 13, and how the details and themes of the JST might shed light on what is going on in Alma 13. The more similar the language and patterns are to Alma 13, the easier I think it will be to use the JST themes to elucidate Alma 13.

“And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.

Now Melchizedek was a man of faith …

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch”

This follows our reading that the first step in the “manner” of ordination for Alma is to have faith and choose righteousness, which allows God to call you out for a special work. The language of “high priest after the order” is similar to Alma 13, but here we get connections to Enoch that aren’t in Alma 13. I find the connection to Enoch very significant. It was Enoch who taught a wicked people enough to get them to repent, build up a city, fend off all their enemies, and be translated into Heaven. Being a high priest specifically “after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch” sounds like language we shouldn’t pass over too lightly. What covenant was given to Enoch? And why is Melchizedek connected with that covenant? At the least, it sounds like this high priestly assignment is connected specifically with the work Enoch did: teach and build a city. (Which is what we’ll find out Melchizedek did.) I’d like to know more about this covenant as well, but for now, I want to focus on the basic connection between Enoch, a preacher and city-builder, and Melchizedek, a preacher and city-builder.

It [the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch] being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God

Alma 13 discusses “order” a dozen times, and Alma also clarifies that this order of the priesthood is really “after the order of His Son” (see verses 1, 2, 7, 9, and 16). Alma also clarifies that we should see the priesthood as ordained from the foundation of the world (perhaps) rather than a person being ordained from the foundation of the world (see verse 8: “which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—”).

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; 

To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.

None of this is in Alma 13 of course, but it does shed light on the “covenant which God made with Enoch” mentioned earlier. God swore to Enoch, and to his seed, that every one being ordained after this order (“and calling”), would have this incredible power. To me it sounds like a way of describing the sealing power we attribute to Nephi (in the book of Helaman) and a few others. [In addition, Jacob never calls the power he has a “sealing” power, but he does say that, “and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea” (Jacob 4:7-8).] It also reminds me of how D&C 128:9 describes the sealing power:

Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?

The sealing power isn’t just sealing generations: it’s when a person on earth can declare something, and it is honored in heaven without any chance of it being annulled by man, mistake, time, etc. (Only another such declaration could change it.) It is a power that seals what is said on earth; or, it seals actions on earth and heaven; or, it approves words/actions in such a way that they have a seal or approval; or, as D&C 128 put it, “a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven.” Applying that to families is intensely powerful: someone on earth can declare this or that child to be a part of the Abrahamic Covenent, even if they weren’t literally born as such, and that declaration is honored in heaven!

So when we hear in the JST that God promised that everyone coming up to this order would have this power, how do we think about that? Were Enoch and Melchizedek different sorts of people, with a different sort of calling? Is this order here, which specifically includes Enoch’s name (“high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch”), different from what Alma is talking about in Alma 13? Or was is this power available to him, and high priests in his day, and is available to high priests in our day? (Or, at the least, to our presiding high priest?)

Is this what allows priests to become a “price of peace,” because they can use that power to defend their cities and end all wars around them? (See also D&C 45:67 and also v.70: “And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.”)

Anyway, lots to think about. But there may be reasons to just keep in mind that the JST describes Melchizedek as having these powers.

And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

It’s certainly possible to read “entered into the rest of the Lord their God” of Alma 13:12 as equivalent to “translated and taken up into heaven.” But for now, I want to focus on how each passage describes the timing of the event, whether or not the events are the same thing. Both Alma 13 and this JST passage describe something happening as a result of their ordination, or, along with their ordination. I think Kim is right that the experience of being washed clean and entering into God’s rest in Alma 13:11-12 isn’t the same exact thing or at the same exact time as the priest’s ordination to this order of the priesthood. Similarly, I don’t get the sense that this JST passage is suggesting that all three elements of this sentence happened at the same time (faith, coming to this order, and translation). There seems to me to be a progression and sense of the passing of time. Men, over time, showed their faith. Then, they came to this order — that use of the word “coming” implies some amount of time, it seems. And then, after those things, at some point they were translated and taken to heaven. It seems like it would be impossible for these three things to happen simultaneously, since the point of being ordained a priest, especially with all those powers we’ve read about, is to do things on earth! To teach, to preach repentance, to build a city, to defend it miraculously, and to become a Prince of Peace.

Moving on now to the part more specifically about Abraham, we get these two verses which have a lot in common with Alma 13:18:

And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace

And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;

And here is Alma 13:18:

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.

These two seem remarkably similar. Again I’m not taking guesses as to what Alma had on his brass plates, but I do want to note that they have at least 4 points in common: priest/priesthood of/according to this/the (holy) order, obtained/established peace, called the Prince of peace/called the price of peace, people wrought righteousness/they did repent. And if we add in the JST verse just previously analyzed, we have a fifth point: men having faith/having exercised mighty faith.

And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire.

This seems to be part of the covenant, given to Enoch: that the heavens and the earth should come together — that is, I think, that his city would return to the earth when another Zion city was built here again?

And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.

And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; 

Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor. 

Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.

And now finally we get back to tithing, and see why this might actually shed light on why tithing is in Alma 13. If Melchizedek is building a Zion city, it would make sense that he would find a way to have no poor, like Enoch did. Melchizedek was a high priest and keeper of the storehouse. That signals he was not just any high priest, but a high priest like Enoch was, one who was also building a city. When Abraham pays tithes he is helping build that city, yet, strangely, he is not going to be a part of that city.

This distracts me to all sorts of questions I have about Abraham. Was he appointed to stay on earth, like Noah was after Enoch’s city left? (see Moses 7:42). Abraham is even compared to Noah in Abraham 1:19, though I’m not sure exactly what the connection is (“As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee.”) Was Abraham seeking to be someone who built up a city, but instead, was given the promise that he would be a father, rather than just a king? He will have lands for an “everlasting possession,” but his promised city is set in the future: “a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice” (Abr 2:6). In addition, his seed is assigned to teach the whole world in such a way that anyone and everyone can be a part of Abraham’s family (Abr. 2:9-11). While Abraham sought to be a “price of peace” (Abr. 1:2), he got (perhaps instead) the promise of being a father with a land that wouldn’t be a Zion city for many, many years.

This mention of wanting to be a “prince of peace” makes me again think of Melchizedek who was called a prince of peace. Was Melchizedek an example for him? Did Abraham go to him in order to receive his priesthood? Abraham says, “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same,” and finally that “I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers” (Abr. 1:2). Could that be referring to this particular visit with Melchizedek? The last verse of the JST says that:

And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.

It doesn’t specifically mention priesthood or appointments to any specific calling, but it does mention a covenant, and also a blessing given my Melchizedek. There’s definitely room for speculation anyhow.

But to finish this post off, at the least it seems to be that Abraham gets these things in return for his tithing. He tithes “Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had … more than that which he had need.” Melchizedek is “the keeper of the storehouse,” and the one “God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.” And in return, Melchizedek, “being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God,” “lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram” with riches, honor, lands. It sounds more like consecration of Joseph Smith’s time: consecrate what you have, and you will be given a stewardship back!

And what does this have to do with Alma 13 and priesthood? I am fascinated that tithing, which at first appeared to have very little to do with the priesthood discussion in Alma 13, might be right at home here. A high priest such as Melchizedek doesn’t just teach the commandments, they are a price of peace. They establish a city. The receive tithes and distribute blessings. Whether or not verse 16 actually belongs where it is, I think that what is going on with Melchizedek and Abraham could actually be called “ordinances.” If I think of this meeting as not just a payment of tithes like we think of filling out a tithing slip, but rather, a moment of consecration where a stewardship is given, and this according to a blessing associated with a covenant, then yes I think I could call that an ordinance or an ordination! Even if Alma didn’t have what we know as the JST of Genesis 14, it might still be important to think of tithing as a moment of consecration, and that Melchizedek is the receiver as something that points out his role as high priest over a Zion city.

[Also, great article by John Welch at the Maxwell site. I’m not even half way through it, but it is very helpful! I just read the part where he traces the theological readings of Melchizedek in many different traditions. He ends that part by saying insightfully: “From this brief sampling of the literature, it is clear that people have said of Melchizedek primarily what their theologies required.” I think that statement is a rather important idea to keep in mind when studying any theological argument.]