(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Above is another depiction of Abram (Abraham) receiving a blessing from “…Melchizedek king of Salem….” (Genesis 14:18). We looked at this mysterious Old Testament personage Melkizedek in the last Gem, but we never got to the study of God’s name, the name by which Melkizedek blessed Abram! Here again is Genesis 14:18-23:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possesser of hea- ven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has deliv- ered your enemies into your hand.” And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said...“I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth...that I will not take any- thing that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich....’”
“…he blessed him and said; ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” (Genesis 14:19). God Most High is translated from the Hebrew El Elyon.
- El in Hebrew is אֵל (pronounced ale – in one syllable) and meaning, “…strength….” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). In the Old Testament, El refers to the One True God! However, the word can be used of any deity, even false pagan gods; angels; mighty men (military heroes); and even demons.
- Elyon in Hebrew is עליון (pronounced el-yone) and meaning when referring to God, “…Highest, Most High….” (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions).
Melkizedek added the descriptive phrase to El Elyon – “…the Possessor of heaven and earth….” To the Hebrew mind, there could not be anything higher than heaven! And as God created and possesses that sphere, as well as the whole expanse of the earth, so He is the extreme Power and Athority of all creation!
This descriptive name of God must have made a great impact on the mind and faith of the patriarch! There is no record that Abram ever had heard the LORD described this way before, or used this phrase to describe Him. The patriarch had just rescued the king of Sodom and the people of that city from the five-king confederation that took them as prisoners of war (see Genesis 14:11-17).
Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said...“I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth...that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich....’”
So we read just three verses after Melkizedek pronounced his blessing on Abram, in the name of “…God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth…” in verse 19, the patriarch swore by “…the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…” (verse 22), that he would take nothing of Sodom’s material goods as spoils of war, “…except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me…” (Genesis 14:24). Abram used the same description of God that Melchizedek had so recently said! The LORD, God Most High was the only personal reward the patriarch said he would claim!
Elyon (Most High) – this name of God seems to be especially related to the Gentile world. It is written in Deuteronomy 32:8 and 9 (Good News Bible):
The Most High assigned nations their lands; He determined where peoples should live. He assigned to each nation a heavenly being. But the LORD’s people were His property. Jacob [Israel] was His own possession.
Perhaps this is related to how Melkizedek, a Gentile (non-Jew) could be “…the priest of God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18). God revealed Himself through His creation (see Psalm 19:1-4 compared with Romans 10:9-13, 18, 19; Romans 1:18-20), and through His assignment of heavenly beings* to watch over the assigned Gentile nations!
In the book of Psalms alone, there are twenty two times Elyon is translated as either Most High, High, Higher, and Highest as referring to God. Almost every one of the twenty two times Elyon is used, it is in the context of the Gentile peoples of the world! So, it seems that the name Elyon has to do with God known by, or relating to, the Gentiles! Applied to Abram – when God called him from Ur of the Chaldees, the LORD ended the initial statement of the call (known as the Abrahamic covenant) with these words: “…and in you all the families of the earth [Gentiles as well as Jews] shall be blessed.” (see Genesis 12:1-3).
How does all this apply to us as Christians today? The Church, the Body of Christ, is made up mostly of Gentiles! For Paul tells us in Romans 11:25 and 26, “…that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved….” The Jews rejected their Messiah, and so God’s emphasis has turned to the non-Jews! Gentile Christians are of “…all the families of the earth…[that are] blessed…” (Genesis 12:3). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29). So if El Elyon is ‘God Most High’, especially as it applies to the Gentiles, then thank God we Gentile Christians have been reconciled unto the Father by Abraham’s Seed, Jesus Christ!
Thank Him that He revealed Himself as El Elyon!
God Most High!
___________________________________________________________________ *Note: The last part of Deuteronomy 32:8 is translated in the Good News Bible thus: “He assigned to each nation a heavenly being….” A Bible study app called e-Sword that I have on my computer has seventeen translations or paraphrases of the Bible available for study. Eleven translations and paraphrases featured follow with something similar to the translation of the King James Version which reads, “…He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” The other six follow more in line with what is written in the Good News Bible. Instead of translating the text as children of Israel, the six versions speak of heavenly beings, angels, or the sons of God. It makes sense that God would have angelic beings assigned to nations, kingdoms, and people groups, because Satan (who is an imitator, and not an originator) also has high ranking demons assigned to various nations, kingdoms, and people groups! (see Daniel 10:13, 20).