I love it when I get to research for these Word Nerd Wednesday posts and I have to say, studying El Elyon has challenged me in all the best ways. I hope to pass those on to you today!
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine. (He was the priest of God Most High.)
And He blessed him and said,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God most high,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
El Elyon Defined
The Hebrew word used in this passage for God Most High is El Elyon.
It is Strong’s #H5945 meaning an elevation; as a title, the Supreme. Most high.
The study notes in my Bible suggest this title assets God’s power over the nations. (1)
Context of the Use of El Elyon
Genesis 14 is the first time this particular name for God is used. And it is significant. Today’s name for God adds clarity to what Katie discussed last week regarding Elohim.
In Genesis 14:13, we first see the word “Hebrew” (a word related to “cross over” or “pass through”) used in association with Abram and his people, although for many chapters we have seen his special relationship with God. Some rival kings battled over territory, and defeated the King of Sodom, taking captive Abram’s nephew Lot who had taken up residence there after parting company with Abram in Chapter 13. A messenger escaped the reported the events to Abram who gathered his troops and rescued Lot from captivity.
As he returns from battle, Abram meets Melchizedek. A rather mysterious character, Melchizedek is not identified by his own lineage which was rare in those days. He is called the king of Salem (which is an older, truncated name for Jerusalem (1)) and a priest of God Most High, El Elyon. Melchizedek brings out bread and wine to celebrate God’s victory and deliverance in Abram’s battle. Then he blesses Abram.
The name Abram in our key passage is the same man God renamed Abraham when He promised him would be the Father of many nations. Abraham is the father of the nation of Israel. He is the one the Jews of Jesus’s day relied on for their inheritance (John 8:33-39). The one to whom they traced their lineage. Abrams was the one God both blessed and promised would be a blessing to many.
Yet, here we see another blessing Abram, thus putting himself in a position of authority over Abram, God’s chosen. In the course of this blessings, Melchizedek refers to the God Most High as the “possessor of heaven and earth.” This word, Possessor, in Hebrew “qanah” (Strongs 7069), alludes to God as the Creator, the Purchaser, the Jealous Possessor, and the Redeemer of both heaven and earth. Using this title, Melchizedek exalts God Most High, El Elyon, to His rightful position above all the leaders of all the nations, the Sovereign King, Who is fiercely jealous for His people and continuously seeks to redeem them for Himself.
The First Tithe
Hearing this blessing, Abram then offered the first tithe mentioned in the Bible (2). This indicates Abram recognized Melchizedek as a true priest of the living God, El Elyon. Thus Abram returns a portion of what God has blessed him with to the Lord. Eventually, we learn the roles and responsibilities of the High Priest in Leviticus. And finally, we see the fulfillment of the High Priest’s role in salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus, our Eternal High Priest, the Prince of Peace, and the King of Kings.
Psalm 110 is a messianic Psalm written by the king of Israel, himself, David. It points to Jesus as the coming and eternal priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4) Hebrews 5:6, 10 and 6:20 refer again to Jesus as the Great High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, as having no beginning or end, a King and a Priest who rules in righteousness and brings peace to His people.
I am filled with awe and wonder at the way the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are woven together by El Elyon, the Most High God, Sovereign over all that is. His plan for those He calls to salvation begins and ends with Jesus. Always has. Always will.
I wonder what differences I would see in my own life if I truly regarded God as sovereign over all the nations, as the God Most High, as Possessor of all there is, and the One Who blesses me with all I have? And if I don’t attribute Most High over all the nations, to whom do I give that honor?
- The Nelson Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1997, Study notes, pg 30
- The Nelson Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1997, Study notes, pg 31