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Priests and Kings


Christian Claim

  • 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14 ESV)

Christians state that Jesus was both a King and a Priest. But to a Jew, this doesn't make sense. Did Christianity change the meaning of Priest? What is a King? What is a Priest?

Jesus the Priest

In the Christian bible, Jesus is portrayed as the priest, who is given the priesthood of Melchizedek (as in Psalm 110). One of the important reasons why Jesus is portrayed as a priest is because he is the one who provides atonement via the guilt offering (Leviticus 5:16, 5:18, 6:7; 7:1-6, 9:7).

So Jesus would have had to be a Priest in order to bring a sacrifice 'for other people' according to the law. You see, Jesus isn't necessarily taking people's sin vicariously but rather in the office of the high priest.

It difficult to understate how important this is and how it plays into the Christian theology over Jesus. For now let us just say that everything surrounding Jesus has to fit the letter of the Law in order for Jesus to have fulfilled the law. We are not nitpicking or being picayune at all, this would have been of paramount importance to the Jews Jesus was sent to, and was an issue of deep concern to early gentile Christians as well.


  • hebrews 2:17
  • hebrews 8:4

Jesus the King

In the Christian bible, Jesus is portrayed as the King; the son of David in order that he may lay claim under the Davidic covenant. Otherwise, simply put, he cannot be the messiah King of Israel, as this office is reserved exclusively for descendants of King David.

In order to be King, you have to be of the tribe of Judah – “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,” (Genesis 49:10) – and you must be of the house of David, to catch the Davidic Covenant – “…thy throne shall be established for ever.” (2nd Samuel 7:12-16).

In the knowledge of how important and well-known these passages were to every Israelite, Matthew spends a great deal of time (14+ verses) on a genealogy that paints Jesus as being of the house of David in the tribe of Judah.

The Son of Man

Emphasizing the Davidic covenant, Jesus also refers to himself as the Son of Man 80 times in the gospels, referencing Daniel 7:13-14. This comes with it's own set of problems, but the message is clear: the New Testament wants Jesus to be seen as King by birthright in the house of David.

So What's the Problem?

There are at minimum six major problems with this claim.

First, Jesus isn't a descendant of King David. The Genealogy of Jesus shows that Jesus does not have a valid claim to the Davidic throne. The idea that 'God' has a claim to this throne is not relevant because just as God gave man dominion over the earth, he also gave David's descendants dominion over the throne. If there is a throne, there will be a Davidic descendant to sit on it, this is his eternal promise. Taking that throne would be breaking his own promise to David.

Second, Jesus isn't a descendant of Moses (or Aaron) i.e. a Levite. This isn't under contention by anyone because the Christians are more interested as painting Jesus as a descendant of David. Exodus 28:1 and many others show that priests are only descended from Aaron (and Moses). Even just being a Levite isn't enough, but the illustration is that you cannot be both a descendant of Aaron and David at the same time, because you can only have one biological father. See below on tribal inheritance. The Christians will now turn to point that Jesus isn't a priest under Levi, but Melchizedek. This is a cope (see 3, 4 and 5 below).

A Priest after Melchizedek

Third, the Christian claim that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a problem because Psalm 110:4 refers to Abraham, not Jesus.

Fourth, it is in and of itself a mistranslation; let us examine Hebrews 7:17 and Psalm 110:4 together:

  • For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:17 NIV)
    • “For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”” (ESV)
  • The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4 NIV)
    • The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (ESV)

This gives us the strong impression that there is a Priesthood of Melchizedek, or that someone named Melchizedek was a leader of, or a part of, and that the Lord God has stated that he (Jesus) would be a priest in that order, or church, or group of priests.

The problem is that the Christian bible has intentionally mistranslated this phrase. The actual hebrew word used is “diḇ·rā·ṯî,” here translated as the 'order'. However, in Hebrew this word does not have the double meaning of both priestly group (order) and command or speech (order). It only holds the meaning of speech or words. Therefore it should be made clear; Should anyone by chance confuse the meaning of 'after the order of,' or 'in the order of,' to mean anything other than something Melchizedek said, then a better translation would be “You are a priest forever as spoken by Melchizedek.” I.E. as Melchizedek has said. This then can only refer to the priesthood passing from Melchizedek to Abraham, as that is the only time Melchizedek appears in the Bible.

It doesn't refer to Jesus.

Fifth, another grand slam – the priesthood of Melchizedek – the king of Salem, was likely to be the Noachide priesthood. However this is not the direct point. The direct point is not who or what priesthood it was. Only that it was not the covenant of Israel at Mt. Sinai. All of the Levitical laws Christians quote which require Jesus to be a Levitical high priest in order to have kept the law, are all post-Abrahamic covenants which have nothing to do with Melchizedek, Abraham, or anyone at all other than the sons of Moses and Aaron, period.

The Tribal Inheritance Problem

Sixth. As it turns out, you cannot be both a descendant of Aaron and David at the same time, because you can only have one biological father. Therefore you cannot be both a priest and a king. Even if Jesus was a descendant of King David, that means he cannot be a descendant of Aaron, since Judah and Levi are different tribes. And again, even if he was descended from Abraham (which he was, but,) it would not matter because so were all the 12 tribes. Being a descendant of Abraham who held the priesthood from Melchizedek is thus shown to be irrelevant, when the separation between Levite and others was made hundreds of years after Abraham at Sinai.

Tribal Inheritance

7 So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.Numbers 36:7 (KJV)

18 And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls.Numbers 18:1 (KJV)

15 Enroll the Levites by ancestral houses and by clans.Numbers 3:15

Separation of the Levites

And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for a wave-offering unto the Lord. 14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be Mine. 15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tent of meeting; and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for a wave-offering. 16 For they are wholly given unto Me from among the children of Israel; instead of all that openeth the womb, even the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto Me. 17 For all the first-born among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for Myself. 18 And I have taken the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel. 19 And I have given the Levites–they are given to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tent of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel, through the children of Israel coming nigh unto the sanctuary.'Numbers 8:13-19 (JPS)

Numbers 3:5 And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: 6 'Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8 And they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons; they are wholly given unto him from the children of Israel. 10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, that they may keep their priesthood; and the common man that draweth nigh shall be put to death.'Numbers 3:5-10 (JPS)

And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the presence of Aaron their father.Numbers 3:4 (JPS)

8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you Levites! 9 Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to allow you to approach him in order to perform the duties of the Lord’s tabernacle, and to stand before the congregation and serve them? 10 He has allowed you to approach him, and all your brother Levites with you; yet you seek the priesthood as well! 11 Therefore you and all your company have gathered together against the Lord. What is Aaron that you rail against him?”

31 As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households—everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth will swallow us too!” 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred fifty men offering the incense. Numbers 16:8-35,

…Many others.

  • 1 Samuel 2:34
  • 1 Chronicles 13:9 where Uzzah dies for touching the Ark,
  • 1 Chronicles 15:11
  • 2 Chronicles 26:16 King Uzziah cut off from Israel for burning incense in the temple
  • Leviticus 24:10-16 explicitly shows the case that the child of a Jewish mother with a non-Jewish father is considered a sojourner (not Jewish).

Being a Priest incurs sin

Another interesting thing to note is that being a Priest incurrs sin. If Jesus was a Priest he would have been guaranteed sin, the meaning and punishment of which is not known and may never be known until the end times.

And HaShem said unto Aaron: 'Thou and thy sons and thy fathers' house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary; and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.Numbers 1:18 (JPS)

  • also v. 18, 20, etc.

Priests are responsible for unintentional sins committed by the public. This is related to the making of judgements and laws. The law for high priests to make laws is in Deu. 17:9 and the laws for them being responsible for people sinning under those laws is in Lev 4:3. For an example of how this works see Ezekiel 44:9-10.

More details

9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.Deu 17:9-13

This is what would happen; sometimes bad (text: contemptuous) people would try to find a way around the Law or there would be edge cases. This kind of 'evil' would then be purged by delineating and specifying those cases for future generations. Other times people would follow the law correctly but through no fault of their own or by following a judgement a new edge case would arise or people would be confused on how to proceed. This was an ongoing, living process by which evil and sin was to be removed from Israel – this was God's prescription to solve the problem.

Bonus 7th Problem

Although scriptural evidence is a first answer, many Christians will impudently deny the word of God, so hitting them with blunt proofs first is often counterproductive.

Not possible in the first or second temple era

Zecharia 6:12-13 is often used to show the dichotomy between priest and king.

  • 12 And speak unto him, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying, 'Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zecharia 6:12-13 ESV)

Note that the branch refers to King David (see Isaiah 11:1-2) whose father was Jesse; the branch then is a descendant of David (the king-messiah in this case).

Not possible in the Messianic Era

If you look at passages such as Ezekiel 44 and other end times prophecies, you will see that there are different laws for priests and kings. For example, wrt Kings, Ezekiel 46:2 shows the discrepancy from Ezekiel 44:

  • 2 The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening.

If the king was a priest he would not be subject to the laws barring non-levitical priests from serving in the inner court. As an end-times prophecy this is just more fuel on the fire that the Messiah is not both a king and a priest.


Jesus cannot be both a king and a priest. All justifications of this claim will attempt to skirt the law on tribal inheritance, will ignore the covenant at Sinai, will claim God broke his covenant, etc.

Jesus could not have fulfilled the law if the Christian claim is correct, but rather he would have violated the law not just by the statement of the law but by the case studies presented in the bible.

The Christian Response

The Christian response is to bring out Hebrews 7, ex. Hebrews 7:8 and/or Hebrews 7:11. The statement will then become that Jesus isn't really the High Priest like a son of Levi, house of Aaron would be High Priest. Instead, Jesus is a priest like Melchizedek.

In other words, the Christian then claims Jesus' priesthood is superior to Aaron's.

Also, at times the Christian may point out that Shem had the role of both Priest and King when he appeared to Abraham. This may or may not be true but it is not relevant, as the institution of King via the Davidic Covenant was not established until much later. It is this covenant which Jesus needs to fufil to be the Messiah – not merely to be a king in a general sense.

Further, Christians will bring Hebrews 7:3 and say that Melchizedek was Jesus, or that he always remained a priest. We know this is not true and the priesthood passed to Abraham. This is shown in Psalms 110 but it is also common sense as there can only be one High Priest at a time anyways. The problem with this is Melchizedek wasn't Jesus, he was Shem – Psalm 110 verifies the Midrash in the same way that Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18 verify the book of Jasher, which is also Midrash i.e. non-canon). Chronicles brings several now-lost books as well, such as Gad and Iddo. Were these books around today, given that Chronicles (supposedly divinely inspired) vouches for these books as containing information overflow from Chronicles, it would be reasonable to accept the information in those books at least in the absence of any other information. Thus there is no reason to assume Melchizedek was ageless, that he didn't have a father, etc.

However, again, none of this really matters because God split the priest-and-king tradition as of Numbers 3:11-13


The response fails because it doesn't make any sense. Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness” – it's a title, not a name. Melchizedek was Shem (according to Midrash). This line of priesthood was transferred to Abraham in Genesis 14 (See Psalms 110). There is no such thing as a separate and superior priesthood. Secondly considering Aaron, God promised that only the sons of Aaron would henceforth hold Priestly office (Numbers 3:11-13). That is, Kohein (which means 'to hold office') and as such would not hold land (inheritance) in Israel. Other kinds of Priest (i.e. Exodus 19:6) have nothing to do with the priestly office nor the priestly duties which God promised solely to the tribe of Levi under Aaron.

More Information

priests_and_kings.txt · Last modified: 2022/10/24 12:45 by appledog