Genesis 14—15 contains time markers that help us line up these events with the Passover and Exodus from Egypt, as well as the Passover and crucifixion in the New Testament:
» “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; [H]e was the priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). This corresponds with Jesus' Passover observance with bread and wine, which took place at the beginning of the 14th.
» “Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be'” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham is outside and viewing the stars. The time has progressed to full dark on the 14th.
» The sacrificial activities described in Genesis 15:9-11 indicate the arrival of the daylight portion of Abib 14; it was light enough to make sacrifices. This method of making a covenant symbolizes that, if the terms were not met, the transgressor must be cut in half, just like the animals (see Jeremiah 34:18-20).
» “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12). The sun begins to go down as soon as noon has passed, so this verse could indicate any time in the afternoon or early evening.
» “And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17). The sun has set and Abib 15 has begun. The symbol of a burning lamp is linked with the salvation of God's people (Isaiah 62:1) and describes the eyes of God (Daniel 10:6). In addition, when God descended on Mount Sinai in fire, its “smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace” (Exodus 19:18). Through these symbols, God is seen confirming His covenant to Abraham by passing through the middle of the sacrificed animals.
What happened during the daylight portion of the 14th in Abraham's day was a conversation about inheriting the land, then Abraham divided and arranged the animals at God's command in preparation for the covenant. Thus, the timing of Christ's crucifixion on the afternoon of Abib 14 points to something centuries before the Passover in Egypt—to the promises God made to the father of the faithful and to the preparations made for their covenant.
David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)
Melchizedek seems to appear out of nowhere, without any warning. Aside from a prophecy in the Psalms, this is the sole reference to Him until the book of Hebrews. Not only is this the Bible's first appearance of Melchizedek, but it is also the first time that a priest is mentioned. Furthermore, despite Melchizedek being called a priest, the text makes no mention of sacrifices—understandable since, as the One who would later be called Jesus Christ, He had no need for propitiation to come before God on another's behalf.
Notice also that the priest approaches the man on behalf of God, and not the other way around. This illustrates that God initiates the relationship and not man (John 6:44). It is impossible for man to worship God properly without His involvement first. We see Melchizedek bringing bread and wine, the symbols of the New Testament Passover, rather than a lamb and bitter herbs that were used in the Passover in Egypt. (As an aside, “bread” here is a general term in Hebrew, referring to either leavened or unleavened bread.)
This is also the first time God's title of “Most High” is used. It is used four times in this section on the eve of this Passover. Understanding how and where this divine title is used will help us realize how much of a blessing the Passover is to us.
Both Melchizedek and Abram tack on the description, “the possessor of heaven and earth.” We should consider the nature and the character of that “Possessor.” A landlord may possess a piece of property yet not care a whit about the tenants so long as the rent is paid. This, however, is not the way the Most High feels about His possessions. It is apparent from the rest of the Book that His ownership includes more care and concern for His possessions than we can fathom. His governance in the affairs of men springs from His will and purpose, which, despite human failure to understand them, can be described only as good.
Melchizedek ties the title “possessor of heaven and earth” with the fact that He delivered Abraham's enemies into his hand, showing just how interested the Most High God is in the affairs of men. He is interested enough that He will show Himself strong on behalf of His people and will judge the unrighteous. Without exception, whenever “Most High” is used in Scripture, God is shown blessing His people with whatever is needed for His perfect will to be accomplished, whether that blessing is of knowledge, physical provision, or especially defense and deliverance from enemies. He blesses His people with His perfect personal involvement.
The New Testament records a striking example of this. In Luke 1, the angel tells Mary that her Son will be called “the Son of the Highest,” the New Testament equivalent of “the Son of the Most High.” It is the same title. Just a few verses later, the angel tells Mary that this would take place because “the power of the Highest”—or the power of the Most High God—“would overshadow” her.
Again, we see God's people being blessed with His involvement in order to bring His perfect will to pass. In this case, His blessing includes the supernatural conception of the Son of God, which, as God promised Abraham, will end up being a blessing to all of mankind (Genesis 12:3). This sort of implication is made whenever the title, “the Most High,” is used.
David C. Grabbe
Passover of the Most High God
Notice that Melchizedek was king of Salem. That is the city of Jerusalem. "Salem" comes from the Hebrew word meaning "peace." That would make Melchizedek the "King of Peace" (Hebrews 7:2). The Hebrew name Melchizedek itself means "King of Righteousness" (Hebrews 7:2). The same individual is mentioned in Psalm 110:4. Speaking prophetically of Christ, David stated: "The Eternal hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This verse is quoted again in Hebrews 5:6, 10.
Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Mystery of Melchizedek Solved!
Jacob must have been taught about tithing by his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Genesis 14 succinctly reveals several principles of tithing. First, the tithe goes to God through His representative, the priest. Second, the Bible repeats that it is one-tenth. Third, this law was in effect long before God commanded it through Moses. Fourth, Abram, blessed for his faithfulness to God, gave tithes in recognition of God's rulership and providence.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Melchizedek (Christ) offers bread and wine to Abram. Working back from the events of Genesis 15, the understanding of "the selfsame day" of Exodus 12:41 and Christ's institution of the bread and wine during His final Passover, this likely occurred at the beginning of the 14th, perhaps even at twilight.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001
Bread and wine are brought forth by Melchizedek (the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ), just as Christ gave bread and wine to His disciples.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 14:18: