Hebrews 7:3

3 Without father, without mother, without descent,[a] having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually*.

Hebrews 7:3 Meaning and Commentary

Hebrews 7:3

Without father, without mother, without descent
Which is to be understood not of his person, but of his priesthood; that his father was not a priest, nor did his mother descend from any in that office; nor had he either a predecessor or a successor in it, as appears from any authentic accounts: or this is to be interpreted, not of his natural, but scriptural being; for no doubt, as he was a mere man, he had a father, and a mother, and a natural lineage and descent; but of these no mention is made in Scripture, and therefore said to be without them; and so the Syriac version renders it; "whose father and mother are not written in the genealogies"; or there is no genealogical account of them. The Arabic writers tell us who his father and his mother were; some of them say that Peleg was his father: so Elmacinus {d}, his words are these; Peleg lived after he begat Rehu two hundred and nine years; afterwards he begat Melchizedek, the priest whom we have now made mention of. Patricides F5, another of their writers, expresses himself after this manner

``they who say Melchizedek had neither beginning of days, nor end of life, and argue from the words of the Apostle Paul, asserting the same, do not rightly understand the saying of the Apostle Paul; for Shem, the son of Noah, after he had taken Melchizedek, and withdrew him from his parents, did not set down in writing how old he was, when he went into the east, nor what was his age when he died; but Melchizedek was the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Salah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah; and yet none of those patriarchs is called his father. This only the Apostle Paul means, that none of his family served in the temple, nor were children and tribes assigned to him. Matthew and Luke the evangelists only relate the heads of tribes: hence the Apostle Paul does not write the name of his father, nor the name of his mother.''

And with these writers Sahid Aben Batric F6 agrees, who expressly affirms that Melchizedek was (glap Nba) , "the son of Peleg": though others of them make him to be the son of Peleg's son, whose name was Heraclim. The Arabic Catena F7 on ( Genesis 10:25 ) , "the name of one was Peleg", has this note in the margin;

``and this (Peleg) was the father of Heraclim, the father of Melchizedek;''

and in a preceding chapter, his pedigree is more particularly set forth:

``Melchizedek was the son of Heraclim, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber; and his mother's name was Salathiel, the daughter of Gomer, the son of Japheth, the son of Noah; and Heraclim, the son of Eber, married his wife Salathiel, and she was with child, and brought forth a son, and called his name Melchizedek, called also king of Salem: after this the genealogy is set down at length. Melchizedek, son of Heraclim, which was the son of Peleg, which was the son of Eber, which was the son of Arphaxad till you come to, which was the son of Adam, on whom be peace.''

It is very probable Epiphanius has regard to this tradition, when he observes F8, that some say that the father of Melchizedek was called Eracla, and his mother Astaroth, the same with Asteria. Some Greek F9 writers say he was of the lineage of Sidus, the son of Aegyptus, a king of Lybia, from whence the Egyptians are called: this Sidus, they say, came out of Egypt into the country of the Canaanitish nations, now called Palestine, and subdued it, and dwelled in it, and built a city, which he called Sidon, after his own name: but all this is on purpose concealed, that he might be a more apparent of Christ, who, as man, is "without father"; for though, as God, he has a Father, and was never without one, being begotten by him, and was always with him, and in him; by whom he was sent, from whom he came, and whither he is gone; to whom he is the way, and with whom he is an advocate: yet, as man, he had no father; Joseph was his reputed father only; nor was the Holy Ghost his Father; nor is he ever said to be begotten as man, but was born of a virgin. Some of the Jewish writers themselves say, that the Redeemer, whom God will raise up, shall be without father F10. And he is without mother, though not in a spiritual sense, every believer being so to him as such; nor in a natural sense, as man, for the Virgin Mary was his mother; but in a divine sense, as God: and he is "without descent or genealogy"; not as man, for there is a genealogical account of him as such, in ( Matthew 1:1-17 ) ( Luke 3:23-38 ) and his pedigree and kindred were well known to the Jews; but as God; and this distinguishes him from the gods of the Heathens, who were genealogized by them, as may be seen in Hesiod, Apollodorus, Hyginus, and other writers; and this condemns the blasphemous genealogies of the Gnostics and Valentinians. It follows,

having neither beginning of days, nor end of life;
that is, there is no account which shows when he was born, or when he died; and in this he was a type of Christ, who has no beginning of days, was from the beginning, and in the beginning, and is the beginning, and was from everlasting; as appears from his nature as God, from his names, from his office as Mediator, and from his concern in the council and covenant of peace, and in the election of his people; and he has no end of life, both as God and man; he is the living God; and though as man he died once, he will die no more, but lives for ever. It is further said of Melchizedek,

but made like unto the Son of God:
in the above things; from whence it appears, that he is not the Son of God; and that Christ, as the Son of God, existed before him, and therefore could not take this character from his incarnation or resurrection:

abideth a priest continually;
not in person, but in his antitype Christ Jesus; for there never will be any change of Christ's priesthood; nor will it ever be transferred to another; the virtue and efficacy of it will continue for ever; and he will ever live to make intercession; and will always bear the glory of his being both priest and King upon his throne: the Syriac version renders it, "his priesthood abides for ever"; which is true both of Melchizedek and of Christ.


F4 In Hottinger. Smegma Orientale, l. 1. c. 8. p. 269, 254.
F5 In ib. p. 305, 306, 254.
F6 In Mr. Gregory's Preface to his Works.
F7 In ib.
F8 Contra Haeres. Haeres. 55.
F9 Suidas in voce Melchisedec, Malala, l. 3. Glycas, Cedrenus, & alii.
F10 R. Moses Hadarsan apud Galatin. l. 3. c. 17. & l. 8. c. 2.

Hebrews 7:3 In-Context

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. without descent: Gr. without pedigree
The King James Version is in the public domain.