Hebrew Roots/Holy Priesthood/The Original Priesthood
Creation and Original Kingdom Order
In the beginning man was created in the image of God. We were created to be God-like and Adam and Eve walked and talked with Yahweh in the Garden of Eden. The first thing recorded that Yahweh said to Adam was, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Man was to “Subdue and rule.” (KJ 'dominion') What was there to subdue? Everything that God created was declared "good" At the end of the creation it was declared "very good" Genesis 1:31 The words used 'subdue' and 'rule/have dominion' have a very strong meaning that goes beyond the concept of a pristine order of creation which Yahweh has declared 'very good'.
- Subdue is KAWBASH Strongs 3533 "a prim. root to tread down; .. .. .. to conquer, subjugate, violate - bring into bondage, force, keep under, subdue, bring into subjection"
- The Theological Wordbook says it mean "to beat down, subdue'
- Rule is RADAD Strongs 7286 a primitive root; to tread in pieces, i.e. to conquer or to overlay"
- The Theological Wordbook here says it means "to bring into bondage, keep under, force"
This all indicates something that was not in subjection and which needed to be conquered. Then in Chapter 2:15 we are told that Yahweh took the man and put him in the garden of Eden "to dress it and keep it".
- 'to dress' ABAD Strongs 5647 "a prim. root to work; by implication to serve, till"
- The Theological Wordbook 1533 says the basic meaning is to "work, serve", and that - "The etymology of this word seems to share the ideas of several Semitic roots, e.g. the old Aramaic root which means " to do or or make", an Arabic root meaning "to worship, obey"' p.639
- 'to keep' SHAMAR 8104 "prim. root 'to hedge about' i,e to guard; gen. to protect, attend to, "
- Youngs Concordance also says "to keep observe, take heed"
- The Theological Wordbook says SHAMAR means to "exercise great care over" and regarding it's use here in this verse, "to take care of, to guard". This involves keeping or tending such things as a garden, a flock, or a house. or it may involve guarding against intruders, etc." p 939
So here Yahweh is instructing Adam to serve Him in the garden as a form of worship, and to keep a protective observation in guarding and caring for the dominion he has been given. He is here commissioned to act as a king/priest over the garden - one who oversees and serves it.
So, we understand that his commission as a priest over the kingdom that was entrusted to him was to subjugate and keep it under his control. We are to understand man’s original calling as one who was to overcome anything opposed to the order Yahweh had set in place. Yahweh had all authority in the universe, but He delegated to man all authority on the earth. In the beginning man was both a king and a priest. He was to rule and to serve as a mediator of God’s blessing and order to this creation.
Enter the serpent! -- All was not in subjection to the Creator in this idyllic environment.
The 'serpent' (the one who controlled the serpent-creature) had right of access, for which reason Yahweh warned of the need to watch, and Adam had a role to guard, protect and forcibly bring into bondage and subjugate all to the One whom he served.
But where is Adam when the serpent addressed Eve? How does the enemy gain an entrance into the garden if he was fulfilling his role of guarding it and protecting it from intrusion?
We don’t know the full extent of what was involved, but in the beginning there were things on this earth to overcome. Unfortunately, the first Adam did not fulfill his calling. He did not overcome. He did not respond with authority when confronted by the serpent. He did not stand on the word Yahweh had given him and quote it against the deception being exercised over his wife, and thereby take authority over the enemy and bring his wife out from under the deception. He had the authority to rebuke the enemy and we are told that he was not deceived. 1 Timothy 2:14
The serpent came and found the most vulnerable area to attack, and Adam succumbs and fails in his role of priesthood. Instead of bringing his wife out from under the dominion of the serpent and back into subjection to his authority under Yahweh, he instead "listens" to his wife and also comes under the dominion of the enemy. He then disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As a result, sin entered the world, and through sin, death. Romans 5:12-14
Yahweh God did not take man’s authority away at that time, but that man lost access to God because of sin. The dominion and the authority over the earth which was given to Adam was usurped by the enemy and he became the 'god of this world'. However that dominion which he now has is only through man, and so man can re-assume his God-given heritage in priesthood and dominion by coming out from under the enemy's control. This has been made possible in Messiah.
The Firstborn Priesthood
Adam was the firstborn among men and the firstborn calling is a king/priest calling, or a 'royal priesthood'. In order to rule over the earth (have dominion over it), you must be a king and a priest. This is a pattern throughout all of scripture. Priesthood is necessary because any dominion over the earth is delegated and dispatched by He Who is Lord over all. Therefore the role of kingship is a priestly function of officiating on behalf of the Almighty to his subjects and in return, representing them to Him.
Adam was King/Priest until he died. At the time of his death, the oldest firstborn living on the earth inherited the role of carrying on that kingly priesthood in the earth, which was Seth.
The firstborn priesthood came through the godly line of Adam through Seth, and following down in time, it passed to Noah the eighth in the line of priesthood. Noah was actually the tenth from Adam, but he was the eighth to function as a king/priest and carry the godly firstborn priesthood. We are told that Noah was the EIGHTH who was a "preacher of righteousness". This is referring to the role of being king/priest.
"And (Yahweh) spared not the old world, but saved Noah the EIGHTH [person], a PREACHER of RIGHTEOUSNESS, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; " 2 Peter 2: 5 KJV
In 2 Peter 2: 5, the word, "person" is in italics. This means that it is NOT in the original Greek text. The Interlinear translation gives "and spared not the ancient world, but (the) eighth Noah, a herald of righteousness, preserved" He functioned in the priestly role to his generation and preached the message of coming destruction on the world of the ungodly of his day.
The Midrash (Commentary) of the rabbis understood this lineage of the firstborn priests. The Midrash Rabbah Numbers 1V: 8 'TAKE THE LEVITES' says, " Adam was the world's firstborn. When he offered his sacrifice, as it says: And it pleased the Lord better than a bullock that hath horns and hoofs (Ps. LXIX, 32) he donned high priestly garments; as it says: And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them (Gen. III, 21). They were robes of honour which subsequent firstborn used. When Adam died he transmitted them to Seth. Seth transmitted them to Methusaleh. When Methusaleh died he transmitted them to Noah. Noah arose and offered a sacrifice; as it says: And he took of every clean beast... and offered burnt offerings on the altar (Gen. VIII, 20). Noah died and transmitted them to Shem."
Shem inherited the firstborn blessing because he spiritually qualified, just as Jacob did over Esau. We have the recorded transferral of the priesthood to Abraham skipping quite a few generations who were unworthy of the honour, from Shem to Abraham. (Genesis 14:18-20) This occurs after his victory acting as priest/guardian/protector of the land over which he had been given dominion by rescuing Lot.
The Book of Jasher also agrees with this concept of Shem being Melchizedek, saying, .. .. "11 And Adonizedek king of Jerusalem, the same was Shem, went out with his men to meet Abram and his people, with bread and wine, and they remained together in the valley of Melech. 12 And Adonizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tenth from all that he had brought from the spoil of his enemies, for Adonizedek was a priest before God. (Book of Jasher Ch.16 verses 11-12)
(Note. This name 'Adonizedek' means "lord of justice" and the title was usurped by the Canaanites at a later date)
Josephus and Theophilus in their accounts cite Melchizedek as a man and not as a theophany.
The rabbis understand that it was Shem who fulfilled the role of the Melchizedek priesthood here: "There is proof that Shem offered sacrifices; since it says: And Melchizedek, king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High (Gen. XIV, 18). Now was it to him that the priesthood was given? The priesthood, surely, was not given to any man until Aaron arose. What then is the meaning of the statement here, ‘and he was priest’? Because he offered sacrifices like priests. Shem died and handed it on to Abraham. But was Abraham a firstborn? The fact is that because he was a righteous man the birthright was transferred to him, and he offered sacrifices; as it says: And offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son (Gen. XXII, 13). Abraham died and handed it on to Isaac. Isaac arose and handed it on to Jacob. But was Jacob a firstborn? No; but you find that Jacob prudently took it [the birthright] from Esau. He said to him: Sell me first thy birthright (Gen. XXV, 31)." In time, Jacob had the function of King/Priest. The King/Priest also had the birthright blessing. Judah was blessed with the Kingly office. Joseph was given the birthright blessing (material blessing) through Ephraim and Manasseh. The Levites were given the priesthood following the incident of the golden calf. Midrash Rabbah Numbers 1V:8
Melchizedek comes from two Hebrew words: Melech and Tzaddik. Melech in Hebrew means: King - and, Tzaddik in Hebrew means: Righteousness. So, Melchizedek means: King of Righteousness.
With Abraham as the future father of faith, we have the Melchizedek - king/priesthood identified as the established order of priesthood, which he recognised. It has been recorded as the order of priesthood in which Abraham functioned and gave his tithe in honour of Yahweh.
Therefore all that are of Abraham come under the Melchizedek priesthood. So we see that this priesthood of the firstborn, the Melchizedek order of priesthood, passed on down from Adam down through to Noah, to Shem, and then to Abraham. From Abraham it was passed to Isaac, then Jacob, who became Israel.
The Firstborn Birthright
The firstborn son was the head of the family. He was to lead the family in the ways of God and as the head, had the authority and responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the family. He served them as a king/priest - a priest with God-given authority to rule. As a firstborn ruler in this priesthood, he was the head servant of the family (see Luke 22:26-27) and was called to minister in such a way as to reflect his father’s character and ideals and carry on the spiritual mandate which he was given, down the family line. The original Father was Yahweh Himself and Adam was His firstborn!
The firstborn ruling as the head servant, had a tremendous responsibility to serve the family. His responsibility was to redeem the family and instruct them in spiritual things. It was regarded as a tremendous honor and calling to serve as a firstborn.
The firstborn was the principal heir of the father, and he received a double portion inheritance so that he would be equipped to function in the 'kinsman redeemer' role and provide for the family. The firstborn was always given the resources to fulfill his calling.
The firstborn understood that he did not belong to himself. He belonged to God. He was Yahweh’s property. His life was not his own, but was for the service of the family.
The firstborn birthright is a major theme in Scripture. This status of the firstborn son being passed down in the family of the godly line, was carried on through to a national level when Yahweh claimed Israel as His 'firstborn' (nation) after He brought them out of Egypt. Exodus 13:11-16
Yahweh had an expectation that those who carried the status of the firstborn would generate His likeness in the earth, uphold His principles and bring the rest of the family of mankind to redemption through the imparted knowledge of Himself.
To this end He gave them His inheritance in sonship, and made all His resources available to them so that they could fulfill their servant role in the authority He had given them. But often the firstborn did not qualify through lack of consecration (as in the case of Esau) and forfeited their calling and anointing as a royal priest of the House of God.
When Yahweh God called Abraham, He knew that he would order his family after him and could be entrusted with the mandate of establishing a lineage which would become the inheritor and possessor of His promises (Genesis 18:19; 26: 5). And so, as a faithful priest of his family, he fathered the nation of Israel, which as promised, would become a multitude of nations, as numerous as the stars of the heavens in number operating in the mandate of the royal priesthood. Genesis 12:3; 15: 5; 17:4; Revelation 5:10; 20: 6