Hebrews Intro Pt. 2

Hebrews Introduction
Part 2
A Summary of Hebrews

In last week’s sermon, Ryan announced that I would be writing a “summary” of Hebrews. While I have chosen to retain the label of summary (since that’s what I told him I planned on doing!), I am well aware that a summary is supposed to be shorter than the work it purports to summarize ;-)[1] However, I have found it necessary to be more detailed than I originally intended in order to properly capture the flow of thought through the letter of Hebrews up through the end of chapter 10. Whether we view this as a long summary or a short commentary, my hope and prayer is that this will help you better understand this important book of the New Testament, as we turn to the eleventh chapter in the next community group season.

There is more than one way to view the structure of Hebrews and to categorize its content. What follows is simply my take on it.

Introduction (1:1–4)

Unlike most of the other letters of the New Testament, Hebrews has no formal greeting. Instead, the introduction launches directly into an exaltation of Jesus. The first word that the author has for this struggling community is to remind them of the greatness of Christ. Several massive theological points are compressed here into the first four verses: Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to us, the heir of all things, the creator of all things, the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact imprint of his nature. Jesus upholds the universe by the word his power, he has made purification for sins, and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. In the very first paragraph, the case has already been settled—it is beyond foolish to abandon our hope in Christ, regardless of life’s circumstances. The rest of Hebrews makes this more explicit and fleshes it out in more detail, picking up on several of the points made here.

The argument that unfolds in the first ten chapters is based around the idea that Jesus is superior first to angels (1:1–2:18), then to Moses and his successor Joshua (3:1–4:13), and finally to the Old Testament priesthood, and the ritual legal system that it served (4:14–10:39). These are punctuated by several passages that warn against falling away and exhort us to instead hold fast the confession of our faith in Christ.

Jesus is Better than Angels (1:1–2:18)

In the Bible, God’s angels (which might better be translated “messengers” in both the Old and New Testaments) are depicted in various ways, ranging from apparently ordinary humans (Genesis 18–19) to extraordinarily formidable and magnificent beings whose appearance can at times lead people to believe they are seeing God himself (Isa 6:2–4; Eze 1:4–25; Rev 19:10; 22:8–9).[2] Yet all these are but ministers, servants of the Lord (Heb 1:7, 14; Ps 104:4). Jesus, however, as God’s Messiah, is his Son (Heb 1:5–13; Ps 2:7; 2 Sam 7:14; Deut 32:42; Ps 45:6–7).[3] By the first century, it was commonly acknowledged that the Law of Moses had been given to Israel via angelic mediation.[4] If willful disregard for the Old Covenant, which was mediated by angels, carried heavy consequences (which the Jewish people, historically, knew all too well), how much more seriously should we regard the New Covenant, mediated by the Son of God himself, and authenticated by apostolic signs and wonders (2:1–4)?

In 2:5–18, the argument turns from Jesus’ divinity and his messiahship to his humanity. Citing Psalm 8:4–6, the author reminds us that creation itself is subject to mankind (cf. Gen 1:26), which is only “for a little while lower than the angels."[5] Yet as important as angels are to God’s work in the world, they are not the ones given dominion in God’s name over creation; that honor goes to mankind. If this is true of all mankind, it is even more true for Jesus, who is not only God of very God, but the ultimate human as well—the “son of man” par excellence (v. 6; cf. Dan 7:13–14; Matt 24:30–31; 26:64). And if creation is subject to mankind imperfectly, what then shall we say of the one to whom it is subject by means of his indisputable lordship, even though, at present, “we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Heb 2:8; cf. 1 Cor 15:20–28)? When Jesus took on flesh, he was voluntarily made “lower” than them, “so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone," but even now he is Lord of all (Heb 2:9).

The second reason Jesus’ humanity is significant is that it allows him to serve as a perfect high priest for us—a theme that will be revisited later in chapters 5–10.[6] Christ’s human nature makes him one of us, our “brother” (2:12), enabling him to die on our behalf. “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of his people” (2:17). The significance of Hebrews 2:14–18 is captured by the oft-cited words of Gregory of Nazianzus: “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.”[7]

Jesus Is Better than Moses (and Joshua) (3:1–4:13)

In keeping with the strategy of combating sin and apostasy by maintaining a high view of Christ, the exhortation to “consider Jesus” in 3:1 propels us into a comparison with Moses, whose stature looms prominently in the biblical storyline, as the one through whom God led the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them his law. Moses enjoyed such close fellowship with the Lord that Exodus 33:11 tells us, “The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” The essential point is given in 3:1–6, and is very similar to the point made with respect to angels in chapter 1: Like the angels, Moses is a “servant” in God’s house, and Jesus is superior to Moses in this house because, as we saw with the angels, he is God’s Son, and a son is greater than a servant (3:5–6; cf. 1:5–8, 14). Then, he adds, “we are his house”—that is, we are the house that is the people of God—“if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (3:6). In other words, our present status as belonging to the people of God depends on our future perseverance. The tragic obverse is also true: If we do not continue to hold fast our hope in Christ, we are not, at present, his house. (More will be said about this issue of perseverance in my next post.)

Whereas Moses led God’s people during and immediately following the exodus from Egypt, so Jesus leads us as God’s people now. The idea of a time in the wilderness that follows salvation but precedes "rest" important in the Bible, and becomes a metaphor for the Christian life, where we have been delivered from sin and await God’s ultimate consummation of all things (see, e.g., Rev 12:14). Simply being in the wilderness doesn’t guarantee our entrance into the true “Promised Land,” any more than coming out of Egypt guaranteed the Israelites rest in Canaan.[8] In the case of the Israelites who left Egypt under Moses’ leadership, their hardness of heart eventually resulted in them being forbidden to enter the land (3:7–11; Num 14:26–35). And so, Psalm 95:7–11 is cited as a warning for us not to follow in their footsteps. Instead, we are to guard against “evil, unbelieving hearts,” and “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’” lest we “be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:12–13). We must realize that it was finally a lack of faith that led to their downfall (4:1–2).

The author of Hebrews then turns, in 4:3–10, to consider the wording of Psalm 95, which he has just cited in 3:7–11. This Psalm looks back hundreds of years earlier to the example of the Israelites under Moses, and warns that future generations of Israelites would likewise not enter God’s rest if they harden their hearts as their forefathers did. And yet, for that earlier generation, the “rest” that was promised was peaceful life in the Promised Land of Canaan (e.g., Deut 12:10). How then could the Psalmist’s generation fail to enter into God’s rest, if they already enjoyed that life, following the entry into the land under Joshua centuries earlier? Does not the very wording of Psalm 95 presuppose that there is still a rest to come—a rest that future generations of Israelites living in the land can still fail to have if they harden their hearts? Further, shouldn’t true rest somewhat resemble the kind of rest that God experienced on the seventh day, when he “rested from all his works”? (Heb 4:4). On the basis of these hanging questions, the author concludes, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (4:9–10).[9] We are then exhorted to strive to enter into this final rest of God, especially in view of clarity with which God sees our hearts (4:11–13).

Hebrews is now prepared to transition into its most extensive comparison—between Christ and the Old Testament priesthood. The transition into this topic occurs in 4:14–16. Here our attention is drawn back to Christ, who was established as our priest at the end of chapter 3. It is because of Jesus’ priestly activity on our behalf that we can “draw near to the throne of grace,” where we can experience both God’s mercy for our failings, and grace to help us through temptation (4:16).

Jesus Is Better than the Old Testament Priesthood (4:14–10:39)

A number of the arguments in this section are deployed in order demonstrate the legitimacy of Jesus’ high priesthood on our behalf (Heb 2:17; 3:1; 4:14–16). This makes sense in the context of Hebrews, because the author is at pains to remind his audience that Jesus has secured “purification for sins” (1:3) far beyond what was possible under the Old Covenant. Indeed, “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26). So complete is his work on the cross that his death is a “once for all” act, after which no further act of atonement is either necessary or valid (7:27; 9:12, 26; 8:13; 10:10). However, there is a major theological roadblock that needs to be cleared in order to show how it is possible for Jesus to serve in this role. This is because, in the Old Testament, only descendants of Aaron (of the tribe of Levi) are allowed to serve as priests (Exod 27:21; 29:9, 29; 32:29; Num 18:7). But Jesus, as the messianic descendant of David, is of the tribe of Judah. The problem is stated succinctly in Hebrews 7:13–14: “For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” Because the author spends so much time on this, it is possible that he is responding to a specific objection about Jesus’ legitimacy as a priest, coming either from outside or from within the community of believers to whom he writes. The last thing people struggling in their faith need is to be told that their Savior cannot save because God does not accept him as their priest.

In order to answer this issue, the author calls to mind two Psalms, both of which speak to the kings in the royal succession line of David (Heb 5:5–6). The first of these is Psalm 2:7, which is used to remind us of God’s enduring promises to David’s progeny. The second is Psalm 110:4, where David says, of himself, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’” The significance of Melchizedek will be explored further in chapter 7, but for now, it is sufficient to know that he is a mysterious character who appears briefly only in Genesis 14, and he is both a priest and a king. By proclaiming David a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, God is acknowledging the legitimacy of a priesthood other the Levitical one, to which the kingly Son of David belongs. And Jesus is not a priest in name only, but one who firmly trusted in the Father during his own suffering (5:7–10).

The rest of chapter 5 through the end of 6 is a bit of a detour. In fact, the argument flows seamlessly from 5:10 to 7:1. It’s not entirely clear why the author chooses this place in his letter to follow an excursus. My opinion is that he knows the Melchizedek material requires some thinking to understand, and that some of his readers “have become dull of hearing” and will therefore have difficulty chewing the “solid food” that they need if they are going to truly understand why Jesus’ priesthood is legitimate. This is why he voices his concern that they are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” (5:11–14). Many of us have experienced the frustration of people who ask deep questions but are unable to do the mental work required to find answers.

And so, in 6:1–3, he encourages them to “go on to maturity,” for if they are going to follow his thought, they will need to understand more than the basics of their faith (the nature of repentance, “washings,”[10] laying on of hands, the resurrection, and judgment). Verses 4–8 transition into a warning about falling away, that there is a point at which repentance becomes impossible for those who have experienced the power of God in the Christian community and yet have still hardened their hearts and renounced Christ. Such people are like land that is supposed to produce a fruitful crop, yet yields only thorns and thistles.

However, there is good evidence that the readers have not yet reached this point—namely, the love that they have for their brothers and sisters and sisters in Christ (vv. 9–11). While love for one another is a necessary component of the Christian life, it does not necessarily translate into earnestness towards God. “Love your neighbor as yourself” cannot exist in isolation from “love the Lord your God” (Matt 22:37–39). They need to take the same earnestness that they show in their love towards people and direct it also towards the “things that belong to salvation.” Foreshadowing the content of chapter 11, this is done by becoming “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” such as Abraham, who patiently waited for the promise that God had sworn to give him (6:9–18). Our hope in the promises made to us has the power to place us “behind the curtain” of the true temple that is in heaven, “where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” And who goes behind the “curtain”? The high priest. And so, Jesus belongs there, for he is “a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (vv. 19–20).

Chapter 7 makes several points about the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek. First, there are general, almost coincidental, similarities in the merely biographical information about Melchizedek. His name literally means “king of righteousness” (or “my king is righteous”), and Jesus too is a king of righteousness. Second, he is king of Salem, which in Hebrew is made up of the same consonants as šālôm—hence, “king of peace” (v. 2).[11] It is also quite likely that “Salem” in Genesis 14 is an abbreviated (hypocoristic) form of Jerusalem.[12] Second, in Genesis, where everyone important is given a genealogy, none is given for Melchizedek, making it impossible to hold that his priesthood is based on genealogical descent (v. 3; 7:15–16). A further observation (though not explicitly mentioned in Hebrews) is that he is both a priest and a king, showing that the two offices are not mutually exclusive.

The next argument (vv. 4–10) is based on the notion that, under ancient customs, tithes are paid “up.” That is, if a person gives a tenth of a sum of money (or other currency) to another person or an institution for religious or political reasons, the one who paid the sum is subservient to the one who receives it. In Genesis 14, Abraham pays a tenth of his battle spoils to Melchizedek (14:20), acknowledging the latter’s superiority.[13] Moreover, not only are recipients of tithes superior to those who pay them, but ancestors are also considered superiors to their progeny (e.g., Abraham is “father Abraham”). By virtue of these two considerations, the order of submission is as follows:

Melchizedek
Abraham
Levi
Levitical Priests

By this line of thought, the Levitical priests who serve at the Jerusalem temple in the first century are at least three steps lower than Melchizedek. Therefore, the priestly line to which Jesus, the Son of David, belongs is superior to that of the Levitical priests.[14]

Third, in verses 11–19, the author ponders the reason why Psalm 110:4 would need to be spoken in the first place. Recall that this is the verse where God says, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.’” The point is simple: If the Levitical priesthood (for which the original readers were considering abandoning Christ) was sufficient, why would God announce another priesthood? And because, in the Old Testament, the Levitical priesthood is a part of the law of Moses—indeed, it’s one of the main things that makes communion with God possible under the law—the insufficiency of their priestly ministry calls into question the entire sufficiency of the law itself, at least, in terms of its ability to provide access to God.

Fourth, we should note that God’s declaration to David in Psalm 110:4 is presented as an oath: “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind.” No such oath was made when Aaron’s descendants were appointed to be Israel’s priests. This calls to mind what the author had said earlier about God’s oath sworn to Abraham (Gen 22:16), that when God swears an oath, there are two unshakeable pillars upon which our assurance of his promise rests: (1) The promise itself, since God cannot lie, and (2) the oath (Heb 6:17–18). And so, however firmly established the priesthood of Levi was by virtue of its being given in the law, Melchizedek’s is even more so because it has the added assurance of God’s oath.

The fifth and final way in which Jesus’ Melchizedekian priesthood fits him to serve as our high priest is fairly simple (7:23–25). Psalm 110:4 says that David’s Son is a “priest forever.” The consequence of this cannot be stated any better than it is in Hebrews 7:25: “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Chapters 8 and 9 follow this up with several ways in which Jesus’ priestly ministry is superior to that of the Levitical priests (vv. 1–7). Since the earthly temple[15] is connected with the sons of Aaron, Jesus would not be a priest if he were on earth. But he is not on earth; he is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (8:1; 1:3), and the “tent” (i.e., tabernacle or temple) in which he serves is the “true” one built by God himself.[16] The earthly one is but a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (v. 5). And the reason why a greater priestly ministry is needed is evident: “The covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” The promises the author has in mind are found in the announcement of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31–34, which he proceeds to quote in its entirety (for the New Covenant, see, outside of Hebrews, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, and 2 Cor 3:6). Among the promises encapsulated in this all-important text are the inscribing of the law on the hearts of God's people, fellowship with God, a covenant people made up only of those who “know the Lord,” and, lastly, the basis upon which all these are made possible: “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

In 8:7–8 and 13, a point is made that is reminiscent of what 7:11–19 said about Psalm 110:4. The author reasons that the very announcement of a new covenant implies that the old one is inadequate. There is something that God wanted to do that couldn’t be accomplished under the Old Covenant and required him to announce a new one. It was inevitable that the Old Covenant would become obsolete and would give way to something better.

The shortcomings of the Old Covenant are then described in chapter 9 in terms of its ritual legislation—that is, the sacrificial system and the laws that maintained the holiness of both the people and the sanctuary. At its core, the author sees two main problems. First, access to the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary in which God dwelled, was severely restricted; only the high priest was allowed to enter there, “and he but once a year” (v. 7) on the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 16). Second, the sacrifices that were offered in order to deal with the people’s sin temporarily purified “the body” of the worshiper (Heb 9:10), but could not cleanse the conscience. That is, they made it technically appropriate for a sinful human being to participate in holy activities (such as the eating of sacrifices) and to enter into holy places, but did nothing to deal with the objective guilt for our sin that makes it impossible for us to dwell with God (and him with us, vv. 1–10).

Christ’s sacrifice is far more powerful, even though the temple in which he serves is greater, in heaven itself. It did not have to be offered annually, but was “once for all” (v. 12), because it is the body of the Son of God himself and not of mere goats and calves, unblemished though they were. His blood truly has the power to cleanse the conscience (vv. 11–15).

Hebrews 9:16–17 is a challenging passage interpretively, so I will restrict my comments, for those who are interested, to the following footnote:[17]. The basic idea expressed in these verses is the necessity of sacrifice in a covenant ceremony; without the shedding of blood, a covenant cannot take effect. We see this, not only in the covenant ritual mentioned in verses 19–21, but also in God’s covenants with both Noah (Genesis 8 and 9) and Abraham (Genesis 15).[18] It is even present in human to human biblical covenants, such as the one between Abraham and Abimelek in Genesis 21 and between Jacob and Laban in Genesis 31. The use of blood is also mentioned with respect to Old Testament purification rites, along with the additional comment, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (v. 22).

If it was necessary to use blood in order to purify the sacred earthly temple precincts and objects, how much more so those belonging to the heavenly temple? But the blood of Christ is so powerful that its cleansing is once for all, far surpassing the blood offered by the Levitical priests, who must offer sacrifices repeatedly to cleanse the mere “copies” (vv. 23–27). So, when Jesus returns, it will not be for the purpose of “dealing with sin,” for this has already been accomplished, but rather “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (v. 28). The implication is clear: Are you eagerly waiting for him?

The contrast between Christ’s once for all offering of himself and the repeated ritual sacrifice of the earthly priests continues into chapter 10 (vv. 1–18). Psalm 40:6–8 is quoted, which expresses God’s preference for doing the will of God over the offering of sacrifices, the latter of which is not something in which God delights (v. 6). Yet, because of our sin, these sacrifices are necessary. And so, by abolishing the need for further sacrifice through his own death, Jesus is able to do what pleases God: the sanctification of his people and the submission of all things under Jesus’ rule (vv. 11–17).

We then enter into the most thorough and exultant exhortation in the entire book of Hebrews (10:19–25). And we got here because of all that has been covered thus far: Jesus’ superiority over angels, over Moses, and over the Old Testament priesthood. The reason we can have the kind of confidence the author has spoken of so often is because of “the new and living way” into the presence of God that our “great priest” has opened for us. The remedy for the temptations of sin, external pressure, and weariness is to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” having been purified by the cleansing that Jesus has given. We know this, not through the invention of man, but because of the promise of God. And the way be grow in confidence is by encouraging, stirring up, and strengthening one another in constant Christian fellowship.

But this does not come without a warning. Again we are reminded of the reality presented in chapter 6, that continued, willful sin and disobedience leads us to a place of unbelief where Christ’s sacrifice is no longer relevant for us. Also, as we saw in 2:1–3, the surpassing value of our new covenant means that we are even more accountable for transgressing it than those under the old. This is a terrifying prospect, and should be a cause of fear for anyone who finds themselves on the precipice of abandoning their hope in Christ. The author, who cares so much for his readers, loves them too much to candy-coat the consequences of spiritual apostasy (vv. 26–32).

As he did after his warning in chapter 6, he offers some comfort, appealing to the endurance they have already shown in the face of struggles and persecutions, citing once again, among other things, their love for fellow believers (v. 33–34; cf. 6:10). He reminds them of their former convictions that enabled them to stand up so nobly in the face of opposition. Now, they “have need of endurance,” so that they will inherit the promise. This is the time for confidence, for “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (v. 39).

And who are these, our brothers and sisters who have gone before us? That is the subject of Hebrews chapter 11.

 

[1] While I haven’t checked, I suspect this post is still shorter than Hebrews 1–10.

[2] There is no evidence that this is written in reaction to angel worship, as might be legitimate to infer from passages like Colossians 2:18. Rather, the comparison with Jesus is instigated by their prominence as powerful spiritual entities and messengers who mediated God’s law.

[3] "Son of God” is a messianic title. That is, it is a designation that is given to the kings from the line of David who ruled over God’s people in Jerusalem (2 Sam 7:14; Pss 2:7; 89:26–27).

[4] Note the presence of the mysterious “angel of the LORD” in Exodus 3:2; 14:19, 23:20, 23:23, 32:34, 33:2, etc. This view is reflected by Stephen in Acts 7:51–53 and by Paul in Galatians 3:19, as well as the Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 33:2 (which adds “angels were with him” to the end of the verse). It can be found outside the Bible in texts like Jubilees 1:28, Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 15.5.3, and Philo De Somniis1.140–43.

[5] Hebrews 2:7 follows the Septuagint’s wording of the verse with the Greek adjective brachus, which has a temporal meaning ("a little while") in passages like Acts 5:34 and Luke 22:58.

[6] It is in this way that 2:10 can speak of Jesus as having been made “perfect through suffering” (also 5:9). The point is not to deny Jesus’ manifold perfections, even in his pre-incarnate state, but rather that certain conditions had to be met in order for him to serve as our high priest before the Father—namely, taking on flesh and undergoing the suffering and ignominy of the cross. Peter O’Brien writes, “Christ’s being perfected is a vocational process by which he is made complete or fully equipped for his office” (The Letter to the Hebrews[PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010], 107).

[7] Letter 101. See Nicene- and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2d series(14 vols.; ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Philip Schaff, and Henry Wace; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994) 7:440.

[8] The analogy somewhat breaks down at this point. The corresponding moments of deliverance are, respectively, leaving Egypt (for the Israelites) and conversion to Christ (for Christians). For the Israelites, unbelief in the wilderness does not affect the fact that they had experienced salvation from slavery; but for professing Christians, unbelief in the “wilderness” means that salvation from sin has never actually happened. Notice, for example, the specific wording of 3:14: “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”

[9]It is unlikely that “rest from works” is meant to call to mind the faith vs. works dichotomy which is so prominent in Paul (e.g., Rom 3:19–4:25). This seems to be absent in Hebrews. The comparison between faith and works of the law may be present in Hebrews in 6:1, although this too is questionable, since it is unlikely that obedience to the law of God would be referred to as “dead works” (cf. 9:14). In the immediate context, the works that we hope to rest from are akin to the “works” that God rested from on the seventh day, which clearly should not be viewed as works of the law (Heb 4:3–5, 10). This doesn’t mean that Hebrews disagrees with Paul on this point, only that faith vs. works is not a theme that is explored in this letter. C,learly the author does believe, with Paul, that it is faith in Christ alone that saves. He just uses different vocabulary to express the same idea (3:6, 12, 14; 4:3, 14, 16; 8:18; 10:23, 35, 39; chapter 11).

[10] By this, he either is referring to baptism (although the plural would be strange), or of the proper Christian perspective on Jewish ceremonial cleansings.

[11] The consonants are the same as the defective spelling, šālōm. Defective spelling means that the consonantal vowel (the mater lecionis) is omitted, or, more accurately, replaced by a vowel point.

[12] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (5 vols.; rev. Water Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm et al.; Leiden: Brill, 1994), 1539. In pre-Hebrew times, the city was pronounced similarly: rwšɜlmm in the nineteenth century BC Egyptian Execration Texts and Urušalimum in the fourteenth century Amarna letters.

[13] This also implies that Abraham, in some sense, regarded Melchizedek’s God (“God Most High,” Heb. ʾ