In this Psalm we find that the Messiah (or his ancestor David) is designated with a priestly title. The Psalmist declares God’s words to the King – “You are a priest forever after the manner of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). But there is no reason to make the leap and assume that the only connotation that the priesthood carries is the function of expiating sin as missionaries would have us believe. In the days of Melchizedek, when there was no Temple – anyone could have brought an offering. The processing of the animal offerings was not limited to the priesthood except in the context of the Temple or the Tabernacle. The priests were always charged with administering justice (Deuteronomy 17:9). As king of Salem, it is clear that this duty was well within the scope of Melchizedek’s station. If the scriptures wanted to imply that the Messiah’s role includes the expiation of sin, it would have referred to the Aaronic priesthood, which is explicitly associated with atonement. The fact that the Psalmist refers to Melchizedek and not to Aaron, indicates that the Messiah is charged with the roles of teacher and judge (Isaiah 11:4).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
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What do you think of לַאדֹנִי in verse 1? Is the Messiah David’s lord? Or is this maybe a psalm about David, rather than a psalm by him?
I think that the simple meaning is that this is about David
Then that’s simple, and I think I agree with you.
I’d thought the common understanding has been that the David psalms were written by David himself, but maybe that’s an assumption.
The Ibn Ezra points to Psalm 20 and 21 as examples of this style
Oh, that really helps. Especially with Ps 20 i can see what he meant. I’d be interested to look more at his approach.
I am wondering if perhaps Rabbi Yisroel can provide some enlightenment regarding Psalm 110. My read on it is that there is no actual wording that allows for the idea of the “order” of Malchi Tzedek. One of the translations I have seen says “Your are a priest forever because you are a righteous king.” What is the story here from the actual Hebrew?
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