Biblical Archaeology Review 46:1, January/February 2020

Epistles: What’s in a Name?: Melchizedek

Biblical Archaeology Review



Melek = “king” | i = “+” or “my” | ẓedek = “righteous”

The name Melchizedek (Hebrew: מלכיצדק; see Genesis 14:18) is a compound name made up of the word (מלך melek), or “king,” and (צדק ṣedeq or ẓedeq), which either means “righteous” or refers to the popular West Semitic deity Ẓedeq. The Hebrew letter yod in between the words either serves to join the words in construct or puts the noun “king” in the first-person case, creating “my king.”

The result is this: If צדק means “righteous,” then Melchizedek means “my king is righteous” or “king of righteousness” (i.e., “righteous king”). If צדק refers to the deity Ẓedeq, then Melchizedek means “my king is Ẓedeq.”

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