Epistle to the Hebrews 7:2 on the “king of peace”
Why does Hebrews 7:2 call Melchizedek the "king of peace"? When he was called King of Salem?
His name first means righteous king, and he was also "king of Salem," that is, king of peace.--Hebrews 7:2
πρῶτον μὲν ἑρμηνευόμενος βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ βασιλεὺς Σαλήμ, ὅ ἐστιν βασιλεὺς εἰρήνης,
Σαλήμ is said saleem in modern Greek. The Greek Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) reads the Σαλήμ also for the city name.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High.
וּמַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן; וְהוּא כֹהֵן, לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן
שָׁלֵם is said shalém in modern (Jerusalem) Hebrew, shalem elsewhere
καὶ Μελχισεδεκ βασιλεὺς Σαλημ ἐξήνεγκεν ἄρτους καὶ οἶνον ἦν δὲ ἱερεὺς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου
Σαλημ said Saleem in modern Greek.
The reading “king of peace” in Hebrews probably alludes to the fact the Hebrew text reads שָׁלֵם however, the original text would have lacked the diacritics and be seen as שלם which looks identical to the word peace in one of its spellings in the Hebrew Bible: שָׁלֹם (with the diacritics). The only difference between the two words שָׁלֵם and שָׁלֹם is the vowel on the lamed ל which in shalom is holam (an ‘o’ sound), and the tsere (the short e as in bet/ or the é sound as in “they”). St Paul (the likely sacred writer of the epistles to the Hebrews) was alluding to this, or perhaps he was alluding to the likelihood that the name Shalem is derived from the word Shalom. Though this spelling of shalom is uncommon in the Hebrew text, where most of the time its spelled שָׁלוֹם (a vav between the lamed and mem sofit) it does exist in 1 Samuel 16:4:
Do you come in peace?
This is perhaps a “defective spelling” which just means another way of spelling a word—a more uncommon way. Defective spelling are used FREQUENTLY throughout the Hebrew bible (even within the same sentence! See the word “shemot” in Genesis 26:18 where its spelled once with the vav and once without: וַיִּקְרָא לָהֶן, שֵׁמוֹת, כַּשֵּׁמֹת, אֲשֶׁר-קָרָא לָהֶן אָבִיו), and occasionally Jewish rabbis have exploited them for some special meaning, RASHI especially does this. Perhaps St Paul does likewise.
Also, it is interesting that the title king of peace, resembles another title often applied to Jesus--sar shalom--prince/captain of peace, found in Isaiah 9:5(6).