17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
There is very little that we know of this King Melchizedek. We do not know his genealogy, we don’t know anything about the land of Salem that he was king over (unless this is a shortened version of Jerusalem), and we don’t know what happened to him after these events.
We do hear some later references to him, though. In Hebrews chapters 5 and 7 it is stated that Jesus was a priest “after the order” of Melchizedek. So clearly he was a figure of importance to the ancient Israelites, and evidently Abram respected him as an emissary of God as he paid his tithes to him.
So much of the biblical account is exclusively about the Abrahamic line that it becomes surprising to hear about a legendary, righteous king that existed outside of that lineage. It makes me wonder how many other good people in history have their ripples washing over us today, and we don’t even know anything about them.