Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, July 1

“Are Shem and Melchizedek in the Bible the Same Person?” by grego

Are Shem and Melchizedek in the Bible the Same Person?

(c) 2010

There’s not much about these guys when it comes to certain aspects. What did Shem do? Nothing is said (other than “had children”). What about Melchizedek’s lineage? Nothing (other than descended from Noah).

Joseph F. Smith wrote in Doctrine and Covenants 138:41: “Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem, the great high priest; Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the great law-giver of Israel;”

Shem, the great high priest?? The Bible is silent on that, and more interestingly, the New Testament has no mention of Shem, unlike other Old Testament leaders (Moses, Melchizedek, etc.). In this list, there is nothing about Melchizedek, though it’s probably because he and Enoch are not there in the spirit world because they didn’t die, but were translated.

In the Pearl of Great Price, we read a little about Shem:
Moses 8:27 And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

He was also blessed with the priesthood:
Gen. 9:18 ¶ And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
26 And [Noah] said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Here’s the genealogy of Shem and Abraham:
Genesis 11:10 ¶ These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. (Shem gives birth at 100, lives 500 more.)
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah (his son gives birth at 35 years old):
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: (his grandson gives birth at 30 years)
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: (his great-grandson gives birth at 34 years)
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: (his great-great grandson gives birth at 30 years)
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: (his great-great grandson gives birth at 32 years)
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: (his great-great-great grandson gives birth at 30 years)
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: (his great-great-great-great grandson gives birth at 29 years)
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. (his great-great-great-great-great grandson gives birth at 70 years)
27 ¶ Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

Abraham meets Melchizedek. They meet in Genesis 14; in Genesis 16, Abraham is 86 when Ishmael is born, so it’s earlier than that.

Shem lives 500 years from the point of counting down.

35 + 30 + 34 + 30 + 32 + 30 + 29 + 70 + 86(or less) (Abraham was younger when he met Melchizedek; this is the first clear firm date after their meeting) = x

So, 500 – 290 + 86(or less) = 210 + 86(or less) = 296.

This 296 years is well within 500 years, so at least on that account it’s possible.

Also note that in all that genealogy, there is no mention of Melchizedek.

On the other hand, it is true that the line only links up Noah to Abraham, and doesn’t deal much with anyone else.

What is known about Melchizedek? From the “GS Melchizedek” we learn:
A great Old Testament high priest, prophet, and leader who lived after the flood and during the time of Abraham. He was called the king of Salem (Jerusalem), king of peace, king of righteousness (which is the Hebrew meaning of Melchizedek), and priest of the most high God.
Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Gen. 14: 18-20. Melchizedek’s people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, JST, Gen. 14: 25-40. Christ was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, Heb. 5: 6. Melchizedek was King of Salem, priest of the most high God, Heb. 7: 1-3. None were greater than Melchizedek, Alma 13: 14-19. Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, Doctrine and Covenants84: 14. In respect for the Lord’s name, the ancient Church called the higher priesthood the Melchizedek Priesthood, Doctrine and Covenants107: 1-4.

Ahhh, so Melchizedek is a title (“king of righteousness”), not a name—he won’t be mentioned by this title in the genealogy.

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:14, we read: “Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah;”
and similar but looser language in Abraham 1. So, Melchizedek is likely a direct relative between Noah and Abraham.

So, it is at least possible, from what we have, that Shem is Melchizedek.

More about Melchizedek, from JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION GENESIS 14: 25-40:
25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.
26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It 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;
29 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.
30 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;
31 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.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
34 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;
35 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.
36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
39 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.
40 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.

Here, we see that Enoch and his people were translated, and Melchizedek and his people sought for the same destiny and reached it, too (JST Genesis 14:34). So, Melchizedek is likely not Shem, as neither Enoch nor Melchizedek are noted as being in the spirit world by Joseph F. Smith; but Shem was there.

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