This Melchizedek was king of Salem1 and priest of God Most High.2 He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,32
and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace."
Without father or mother, without genealogy,4 without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God5 he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch6 Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!75
Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people8--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.
This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed9 him who had the promises.107
And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.119
One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,
because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people),12 why was there still need for another priest to come13--one in the order of Melchizedek,14 not in the order of Aaron?
For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.
He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe,15 and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.1614
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah,17 and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,
one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."a1818
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless1919
(for the law made nothing perfect),20 and a better hope21 is introduced, by which we draw near to God.2220
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,
but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:23 'You are a priest forever.' "b24