But in any case the fact that Salim, the god of peace, was the patron deity of Jerusalem, lends a special significance to Melchizedek's treatment of Abram. The patriarch had returned in peace from an expedition in which he had overthrown the invaders of Canaan; he had restored peace to the country of the priest-king, and had driven away its enemies.
It had once been called Salem, or peace, when the mysterious priest-king, Melchizedek, reigned there in Abraham's time, but since it had been held by the Jebusites, and called Jebus.
Since the above pages were written Dr Frazer has notified the discovery of a second African parallel, equally complete, and striking. The writer states that the dominant Ju-Ju of Elele, a town in the N.W. of the Degema district, is a Priest-King, elected for a term of seven years.
The assurance which Gudea obtained through the priest of Ninâ and the sign, the priest-king Ziusudu secured by his own act, in virtue of his piety and practice of divination. And his employment of the particular class of incantation referred to, that which conjures by the Name of Heaven and Earth, is singularly appropriate to the context.
But before proceeding with the history of this strange fable, it will be well to extract the different accounts given of the Priest-King and his realm by early writers; and we shall then be better able to judge of the influence the myth obtained in Europe. Otto of Freisingen is the first author to mention the monarchy of Prester John, with whom we are acquainted.
This title, by which the Arab rulers were known, had been conferred on the Arab rulers of Oman for centuries, and signifies a sort of priest-king, like Melchisedek, to whom, curiously enough, is given the same title in the Koran.
You find that in those days the Priest-King, the Ruler of the land and the supreme Teacher of his people, shaped the polity of the nation as he shaped the doctrines taught in the temples of the religion. Both the religion and the polity have the keynote of duty.
A new priest-king was set up in the person of Antigonus, the last Asmonsean prince, who held the capital for three years B.C. 40-37 as a Parthian satrap, the creature and dependant of the great monarchy on the further side of the Euphrates. Meanwhile in Asia Minor Labienus carried all before him. Pamphylia, Lycia, and Caria were overrun. Stratonicea was besieged; Mylasa and Alabanda were taken.
Taking that for granted without more words, it strikes one as remarkable that this description of the subjects of the Priest-King should be thus imbedded in the very heart of the grand portraiture of the monarch Himself. It is the anticipation of the profound New Testament thought of the unity of Christ and His Church.
The Chaldæan kings, unlike their contemporaries, the Pharaohs, rarely put forward any pretension to divinity. They contented themselves with occupying an intermediate position between their subjects and the gods. While the ordinary priest chose for himself a single deity as master, the priest-king exercised universal sacerdotal functions.