Friday, January 6, 2017

The Todah Sacrifice: From Shadow to Substance

The following a copy of the article The Todah Sacrifice: From Shadow to Substance by Jacob Michael from his now defunct site

Link to this article by referencing this address:

There are several different classes of sacrifice outlined and described in the books of the Mosaic Law. The book of Leviticus in particular describes the Holocaust Offering, the Cereal Offering, the Sin Offering, the Guilt Offering, and the Peace Offering as general categories of sacrifices.
Within this last category, the Peace Offering, there is a particular kind of Peace Offering that is described in Leviticus 7:11-21. This offering is called by Leviticus the "thank offering," or the todah (toh-DAW) sacrifice. Leviticus describes it as follows:
If he offers [the Peace Offering] for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the todah offering unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with cakes of leavened bread. And of such he shall offer one cake from each offering, as an offering to the LORD; it shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings.
And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it until the morning. (Lev. 7:12-15)
The todah is described in this text as a regular Peace Offering (i.e., a blood sacrifice) to which is appended the offering of leavened bread. The one offering the sacrifice would, as with all Peace Offerings, share in eating the meat and bread of the todah sacrifice.
Since the Peace Offering in general was meant to signify a shared shalom between God and the one offering, a person who was unclean could not offer this sacrifice: "but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD's peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. And if any one touches an unclean thing ... and then eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD's peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people." (Lev. 7:20-21)
In the Psalms we find a kind of general outline of the todah sacrifice:
Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving [todah; LXX: thusian aineseos], and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. (Ps. 50:13-15)
With the mention of "vows," calling upon God in times of trouble, being delivered by Him, and then glorifying Him for His deliverance, we have the basic structure of the todah sacrifice. Hartmut Gese explains:
The thank offering presupposes a specific situation. When someone is rescued from death, from an illness, or from persecution that poses a threat of death, then the divine deliverance is celebrated by a worship service built on a thank offering as a new foundation for the person's existence. Here he confesses ... God as deliverer in a thank offering (todah). He invites those who belong to his immediate community, contributes an animal for this particular zebah ["sacrifice" --jm] of thanksgiving, and in the meal offering celebrates with those invited the start of his new being. The essential element is that the thankful acknowledgement of God is expressed in a so-called song of thanks of the individual, which refers back to the time of troubles and "thinks on" (zkr) the deliverance and the experience of death and salvation. (Hartmut Gese, Essays on Biblical Theology [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981], p. 129)
Keeping this framework in mind, we now have a lens through which to view the Psalms, and through this lens, it is not difficult at all to pick out certain Psalms that may be classified as todah Psalms. A perfect example of this would be Psalm 69:
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God ... I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother's sons. For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me. (Ps. 69:1-3, 8-9)
From this lament, the Psalmist moves on to petition God for deliverance and vindication:
But as for me, my prayer is to thee, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of thy steadfast love answer me. With thy faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O LORD, for thy steadfast love is good; according to thy abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in distress, make haste to answer me. Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies! (Ps. 69:13-17)
Lastly, the Psalmist proclaims his trust in God for deliverance, and witnesses to his brethren of his hope in God:
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving [todah. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein. For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall dwell there and possess it; the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it. (Ps. 69:30-36)
Likewise, Psalm 116 follows the pattern of todah, and actually makes specific reference to the thank offering. The Psalmist begins by saying, "the snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish" (vs. 3), moving on to recount his petition, "then I called on the name of the LORD" (vs. 4), and then recounting his deliverance: "Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling." (vss. 5-8)
In answer to the question, "What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?" (vs. 12), the Psalmist mentions the todah as the way in which he will glorify God's saving work: "I will lift up the cup of salvation [LXX: poterion soteriou] and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people ... I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving [LXX: thusian aineseos] and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people." (vss. 13-18)
Take note of the poetic parallelism between vss. 13-14 and vss. 17-18, where the todah sacrifice is interchanged with the "cup of salvation":
1) I will lift up the cup of salvation
2) and call on the name of the LORD
3) I will pay my vows to the LORD
4) in the presence of all his people
1) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving
2) and call on the name of the LORD
3) I will pay my vows to the LORD
4) in the presence of all his people
Fr. James Swetnam notes this parallel and says that this indicates that a cup of wine was also included in a todah sacrifice:
The toda ceremony was a type of thanksgiving offering associated with a bloody sacrifice. Both bloody sacrifice and toda ceremony are offered by someone who has escaped from the danger of death, serious illness, or life-threatening persecution. An essential element is a hymn of thanksgiving which serves to recall the salvation achieved. The toda ceremony involves such a hymn of thanksgiving plus the offering of leavened bread, and it can involve a cup of wine which serves as the ceremonial proclamation parallel to the bread which is the ceremonial meal. The Psalter indicates that the toda had an importance difficult to exaggerate in the religious life of Israel ... In the toda meal the bread offering had a special place (Lev 7,12-15). The use of wine had a prominent part (in Ps 116 vv. 17-18 [LXX 115,8-9] with mention of the toda ... are parallel to vv. 13-14 [LXX 115,4-6] with mention of the 'cup of salvation' ...). (Swetnam, J., "The Crux at Hebrews 5,7-8", Biblica, Vol. 81 [2000], p. 358, 359, emphasis added)
In the prophetic age, we find mention of a future "eschatological todah sacrifice." Isaiah says that in the last days, "the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory." (Is. 24:23) The mention of God revealing His glory "before his elders" on a mountain (Zion, in this case) recalls the words of Exodus 24:
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel ... they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Ex. 24:9-11)
Corresponding to the eating and drinking of the elders on Mount Sinai, Isaiah says that at this future gathering on Mount Zion, "the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined." (Is. 25:6) This section of Isaiah's prophecy, appropriately enough, begins with a kind of todah-style song of thanksgiving:
O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For thou hast made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify thee; cities of ruthless nations will fear thee. For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. Thou dost subdue the noise of the aliens; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. (Is. 25:1-5)
Further, in a very Messianic prophecy of Jeremiah, we find God speaking of future "glory days" for Jerusalem:
But if you listen to me, says the LORD ... then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited for ever. And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places round about Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, cereal offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings [LXX: ferontes ainesin] to the house of the LORD. (Jer. 17:24-26)
In light of these kinds of Messianic/last-days prophecies, in which the todah seems to have some prominence, Gese says:
We can understand the verdict of the ancient rabbis, "In the coming (messianic) age all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering will never cease; all (religious) songs will cease, but the songs of thanks will never cease." [Pesiqta ed. S. Buber, 1868, p. 79a; e. B. Mandelbaum, 1962, I, p. 159] (Gese, p. 133)
Fr. Swetnam, in his article in Biblica ("The Crux at Hebrews 5,7-8," cited above), shows how the todah sacrifice is taken up in the New Testament and brought to its fulfillment in the Sacrifice of the Cross.
It is very much significant that one of the seven last sayings of Our Lord from the Cross is a quotation from one of the most well-known todah Psalms:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)
This is the opening line of Psalm 22, which is not only another perfect example of the todah structure, but is, along with Psalm 69 (already cited), one of the most explicit Messianic Psalms which predict the Passion of the Christ. Note the movement from lament to thanksgiving in these verses, as well as the references to the Passion:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest ... All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" [c.f. Matt. 27:39-43] ... I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death. Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet-- I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots ...
I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee: You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him ...
For dominion [meluwkah, LXX: basileia, "kingdom"] belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it. (Ps. 22:1-2, 7-8, 14-18, 22-24, 28-31)
This particular todah is frequently linked by the New Testament writers to the Passion. We have already seen that the opening words are quoted by Our Lord on the Cross; St. John, in his narrative of the Passion, quotes verse 18 (c.f. John 19:24); St. Paul quotes verse 22 in a certain kingdom-context ("we see Jesus ... crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death") in Hebrews 2:9-12. To get a clearer view of todah in relation to the Sacrifice of the Cross, Fr. Swetnam's insights are particularly helpful:
Toda-piety's basic experience of death and redemption took on, in the perspective of apocalyptic, the dimensions of an absolute, and salvation from death led to the conversion of the world, to the participation of the dead in life, and to the eternal proclamation of salvation (Ps 22[21],8-32). (Note the occurrence of 'kingdom' - basileia - in v. 29.) The cry of Jesus at Mt 27,46 and Mk 15,34 in which He cites the opening verse of Ps 22[21] is designed to indicate not that God had abandoned the petitioner, but that salvation through death - Jesus' death - is the occasion for the arrival of the Kingdom of God as interpreted in Ps 22[21]. Abandonment by God is a common theme in the psalms, and it is difficult to see what the distinctive purpose of the citation of the opening verse could be if not an indication of this abandonment in the context of the entire psalm, i.e., an abandonment which leads to the advent of the Kingdom. (Swetnam, pp. 358-359)
There are those who would object to the idea that, when Our Lord quotes the opening line of Psalm 22, it is with the intention of communicating the entire message of the Psalm. That is to say, the words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" should not be interpreted to mean that God the Father abandoned the Son during His hour of Passion, but rather, those words are meant to propel us forward to the words "he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him."
Objectors to this view must answer the counter objection suggested by Swetnam: there are many Psalms which speak of abandonment by God. Consider:
Hide not thy face from me. Turn not thy servant away in anger, thou who hast been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation! (Ps. 27:9) Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (Ps. 38:21-22)
I will praise thee with an upright heart, when I learn thy righteous ordinances. I will observe thy statutes; O forsake me not utterly! (Ps. 119:7-8)
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. (Ps. 51:11)
Our Lord could have quoted any one of these or several other verses, had His desire been to express the fact that He feared abandonment by God - why did He pass over these in favor of Ps. 22:1, a Psalm which just coincidentally is a todah Psalm of praise and deliverance? It is entirely too coincidental that this particular Psalm includes so many explicit prophecies of Our Lord's suffering on the Cross, and that these sufferings culminate (just as the Psalm does) in the coming "kingdom" of God.
Having established the link between todah and the Crucifixion, however, it becomes very difficult to miss the link between todah and the Last Supper - precisely because it is impossible to miss the connection (even if viewed as only casual) between the Cross and the Upper Room.
By way of a side-tangent, we must recall for ourselves just how saturated in sacrificial context is the Upper Room narrative. The historical/liturgical context of the Upper Room narrative is the Passover Feast, which itself was a sacrificial meal involving the slaughter of an animal and the eating of bread and wine; the phrase "do this for an anamnesis of me" recalls the particular category of Old Testament sacrifice known as the "memorial offering"; the words "this is the New Covenant in my blood" is an echo of Moses' words to a newly inaugurated ecclesia of Hebrews, when he sprinkled the blood of a slaughtered bull upon the people and said, "this is the blood of the covenant" (c.f. Ex. 24:1-8); finally, the description of the chalice as "blood which is poured out for you" evokes another category of sacrifice in Israel, namely, the libation offering which was intended to be "poured out" at the base of the altar.
To return to the discussion of the todah, we see the link between Calvary and the Upper Room in that fact that, in the Upper Room, Our Lord offered (using overtly sacrificial language that recalled both bloody and unbloody categories of Old Covenant sacrifice) precisely those two elements that are present at the todah sacrifice: the bread and the cup of wine.
The connection between the three (todah, Calvary, and the Upper Room) becomes even more focused and clear when we consider that the three elements of the todah are accounted for in the combination of both Calvary and the Upper Room.
To put it another way: if we view the Upper Room as the beginning of the Sacrifice of Christ, and Calvary as the completion of the Sacrifice, then what we have is one continuous sacrificial action that corresponds exactly to the several parts of the todah sacrifice. In the todah, there was the offering of bread and wine, but also the blood of a sacrificial animal; if we see the Upper Room and Calvary as bookends of the same singular sacrifice, then in the bread and wine of the Upper Room we can account for the bloodless sacrifice of the todah, while in the pierced body of Our Lord on the Cross we account for the bloody aspect of the todah sacrifice.
The similarities are too rich to be passed over. It was because of the bloody sacrifice of the animal on the altar that the offerer could then participate in the meal of bread and wine, which signified his harmonious relationship with God; however, the meal of bread and wine was not an afterthought, but was clearly understood in Levitical terms to be a part of the sacrifice proper.
This bloody-unbloody combination contained in one single sacrifice has but one counter-part in the New Covenant: "In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner." (Council of Trent, DS #1743)
Recall also that the perpetual offering of the todah sacrifice - a bloody-unbloody sacrifice involving bread and wine - was understood by the rabbis to be a sign of the Messianic age (see quote above). What else can it mean when Our Lord, the Messiah, comes to earth to offer His body as a bloody sacrifice, but prefaces this by first offering bread and wine - which He calls His body and blood, thus clearly making it one sustained sacrificial act with that of Calvary - and tells His disciples to continue this act ad infinitum until the end of time - except that the Sacrifice of the Mass is one with the supernatural and elevated todah sacrifice of the New Covenant?
The early Church understood this, and perhaps this is why the term applied to the weekly liturgical sacrifice was nothing less than the Greek translation of the word todah. In Hebrew, todah means "thanksgiving"; in Greek, the word is eucharistia, or in English, "Eucharist."
The understanding of the Church as regards the todah sacrifice and its connection to the Mass could not be stated more clearly than what we find in the Roman Liturgy. Just prior to the drinking of the Precious Blood of Our Lord, the priest recites the prayer Quid retribuam Domino ... - the very verses discussed above, belonging to the todah Psalm 116:
What return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given to me? I will take the chalice of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies. (Communion of the Priest, Roman Missal)
This is clearly what the Church wants us to see in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: the todah of the Old Covenant, which was both a bloody and an unbloody sacrifice, which the rabbis said would be a perpetual sacrifice (to the exlusion of all other sacrifices) in the Messianic age, is to be found in no other place than on the high altar at every single Eucharistic Liturgy, where the bloody sacrifice of Calvary is perpetuated in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.
This is, perhaps, what St. Paul was referring to in the epistle to the Hebrews, "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise [thusian aineseos] to God, that is, the fruit [karpos] of lips that acknowledge his name." (Heb. 13:15) Can we overlook the fact that St. Paul uses exactly the terminology that is found in the Old Testament to describe the todah sacrifice? Or that the work karpos can mean "praises, which are presented to God as a thank offering?" (C.f. Strong's #2590)
This final and fulfilled todah sacrifice, offered by Our Lord both in the Upper Room and on the Cross, and perpetually offered by the Church in the re-presentation of Calvary via the Sacrifice of the Mass, is the sacrifice to which the Old Covenant todah sacrifice - and indeed all sacrifices of the Old Covenant - pointed, and in which it finds its telos.
Panem coelestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo ...
Jacob Michael

The King Who Would Be Priest: The Son of David and the Holy Eucharist

The following is an article from the now defunct website Lumengentleman by Jacob Michael

In St. Luke's account of the Last Supper, we encounter a curious anomaly. As He prepares to serve the Passover meal, Our Lord says:
I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God ... I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:15-18)
However, after telling His disciples that He will not eat or drink of the Passover until "the kingdom of God comes," we read:
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." (vs. 19-20)
The difficulty is this: if Jesus said He would not eat or drink with His disciples until the kingdom had arrived, and then proceeded to eat and drink with them anyway, in what sense may we say that the kingdom of God had arrived on earth, there in the Upper Room?
The prophets had promised that, when the Messiah would come, he would rule as a Son of David from the throne of David, and restore the Kingdom of David by reuniting all twelve of the tribes of Israel under one single head:
One Nation, One Davidic King
I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides ... and I will make them one nation in the land ... and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms ... My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. (Ezek. 37:21-24) The King Will Rule from David's Throne Forever
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ... Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. (Is. 9:6-7)
But what kind of king was David? What kind of king was the first Son of David, Solomon? For that matter, why did David set up the political and religious capital of his kingdom in Jerusalem?
We must travel back, now, to the early days of the history of the patriarchs.
In the days of Abraham, we encounter a mysterious (for the modern-day reader - not for the ancient Jews) figure, a priest-king named Melchizedek:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Gen. 14:18-20)
Who is this Melchizedek? His name is a compound of two Hebrew words, melek = "king", and tsedeq = "righteousness." He was, the text tells us, the king of shalem, the Hebrew word meaning "peace." Not only was he the king of Salem, he was also the "priest of God Most High," a priest who brought out "bread and wine."
I said a moment ago that the identity of Melchizedek is only a mystery for modern readers, but not for the ancient Jews, and this is true. We find in the targums (Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament) that Melchizedek's identity was taken for granted - he was Shem, Noah's firstborn son:
And Malka Zadika, who was Shem bar Noah, the king of Yerushalem, came forth to meet Abram, and brought forth to him bread and wine. (Targum Psuedo-Jonathan, Sec. III, Genesis XIV)
So we see that Mechizedek is a king, but also a priest, who offers bread and wine, and is identified with Shem, the only righteous firstborn son in the Old Testament.
That he is king of shalem is significant as well, for this city is identified in Scripture as nothing less than the city of Jerusalem. Note the use of synonymous parallelism in this Psalm:
In Judah God is known
His name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem
His dwelling place in Zion. (Ps. 76:1-2)
A brief recollection of Abraham's life will show us the connection between the two cities. After Abraham attempted to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, but was prevented by God, he gave thanks that God had provided a substitute sacrificial ram, and the text tells us, "Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will See to It." In Hebrew, that name is rendered Yehovah yireh.
Now, where is Mount Moriah, the place Abraham was standing when he said "this place is called Yehovah yireh?" We know from 2 Chronicles exactly where Mount Moriah is:
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David his father. (2 Chr. 3:1)
Let's put the pieces together, then:
1) Moriah is in Jerusalem
2) Moriah is where Abraham offered Isaac
3) Jerusalem used to be known as Salem
4) Melchizedek was the king of Salem
5) Abraham renamed the place Yehovah yireh
6) This name was appended to the current name, so that the compound name became Yirah-Salem, or "Jeru-salem."
7) Therefore, Melchizedek was a priest-king in Jerusalem
8) Abraham offered Isaac in Jerusalem
9) David later became king and set up his political-religious capital in Jerusalem
All of this leads us to expect - to anticipate - what we find in Psalm 110, which is the only other place in the Old Testament where Melchizedek is mentioned.
Significantly, this Psalm was a coronation hymn that would be sung at the enthronement of the Son of David. You can envision the scene: as the newly crowned Davidic King ascends to the throne, the choirs sing this song:
YAHWEH says to my adonai: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." ...
YAHWEH has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (Ps. 110:1, 4)
What an odd declaration to sing to the new king as he ascends to the throne! You are a priest?!
But that is precisely what the Davidic Kingship entailed. In the book of Deuteronomy, God made a concession to Israel in a proleptic, anticipatory way - He knew that when they came into the land, they would want a king to rule them, so that they could be like all the other nations. God, foreseeing this, gave them certain parameters within which they could work:
When you come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, and then say, "I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me"; you may indeed set as king over you him whom the LORD your God will choose ... Only he must not multiply horses for himself ... And he shall not multiply wives for himself ... nor shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in the charge of the Levitical priests ... and he shall read in it all the days of his life ... that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren ... (Deut. 17:14-20)
The king, the Son of David, was to be steeped in the written Law and to possess his own copy of it, which was - notice - a privilege of the Levitical priests. In all things, he was to ensure that "his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren" - in other words, he was to be a servant.
The paradox of the Davidic Kingship - indeed, of the Kingship of Melchizedek, and even of the natural kingship of the father in the patriarchal home - was that the king should exercise his superior authority precisely by serving as an inferior would.
I repeat: the king most clearly and powerfully exercised his authority when he acted as a priest in the service of his people.
Thus, when Solomon (whose name itself is linked to Melchizedek - one was king of Shalem [peace], and the other was a king named Shalomohn [peace]) ascended to the throne, he did so as a servant:
1) For his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he rode upon David's mule, not on a noble white horse (1 Kings 1:38-40)
2) He built the temple for God, along with all of the holy vessels and utensils (1 Kings 6-7) - normally something the Levites would do, as they did during the exodus
3) At the dedication of the temple, it is Solomon who prays the high-priestly prayer (1 Kings 8:22-53)
4) On that same occasion, Solomon is the one who offers sacrifices to God (1 Kings 8:63-64)
5) After dedicating the temple, it is Solomon who performs the priestly act of blessing the people (1 Kings 8:54-61)
6) Because God blessed Solomon with great wisdom, it is he who became a priestly mediator of God's Torah to the nations (1 Kings 10:1, 24)
Unfortunately, the glory days of Solomon's reign as the ideal king-priest were not to last. God had prohibited three things for the king: 1) multiplying gold, 2) multiplying horses, 3) and multiplying wives. We see from 1 Kings 9-11 that Solomon slowly-but-completely violated each of those prohibitions.
We read that "Solomon gathered together ... fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen" (1 Kings 10:26). Worse, he violated the specific prohibition in Deuteronomy 17, "he must not ... cause the people to return to Egypt in order to multiply horses" (vs. 16), as we read, "And Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt." (1 Kings 10:28)
Not only did Solomon multiply gold for himself, we read the rather apocalyptic statement that "the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold." (1 Kings 10:14)
By the time we reach chapter 11, the process of decay is completed, as we read the opening words: "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women." He amassed 700 wives and 300 concubines, who "turned away his heart after other gods." (vs. 4) The litany of idolatry that follows is painful, especially considering the unique status as priest-king that Solomon had previously enjoyed:
Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. ... Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. (1 Kings 11:5-6)
You do the math. Seven hundred wives, plus 300 concubines - and Solomon built shrines and alters for each of the gods and goddesses that his wives worshiped. We're talking about thousands and thousands of idolatrous shrines, alters, high places, etc. What happened to Solomon, the priest-king after the order of Melchizedek?!
In a word, he started acting more like a king, and less like a priest. Even though the greatness of his kingly authority was exercised supremely through his priestly function, he began to lean more toward kingly power (gold, horses, and foreign women through whom he could forge political alliances with other nations) and away from priestly service. As Solomon discovered, when you grab for royal authority and reject priestly service, you lose whatever power you had (Solomon's kingdom was torn in two as a result of his sin) - but when you grab for priestly service, your royal authority is increased in the process. That's the paradox. And that's the lesson that Our Lord was trying to teach His disciples that night in the Upper Room.
We see Jesus, the Son of David, the true Shalomohn, the Davidic Messiah who was to restore the kingdom and reunite the tribes, standing in the Upper Room - doing what? Doing the very thing that the Davidic Kings before him did: offering the todah sacrifice.
Briefly: the todah sacrifice - or "thank offering" - was part of the Levitical "peace offering" described in Lev. 3:1-9 and 7:11-17. It consisted of a bloody sacrifice of either cattle or sheep, and an unbloody sacrifice of bread and wine.
The todah was offered to God in thanksgiving and remembrance for some past deliverance from danger; in fact, the Passover celebration was a perfect example of the todah. A lamb was slaughtered, and bread and wine were consumed, while the one making the offering remembered and gave thanks to God for previously delivering Israel from bondage in Egypt.
Of all the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament, the todah was the predominant sacrifice of the Davidic Kingdom. A good many of the Psalms written were todah Psalms, confessing and proclaiming the greatness of God for some past deliverance - including the famous 22nd Psalm, the Psalm which begins "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?", the very Psalm which Our Lord quoted from the Cross.
If todah is Hebrew for thanksgiving, it should come as no surprise that it corresponds to the Greek word for thanksgiving, eucharistia - the Eucharist.
So again, what do we see in St. Luke's account of the Last Supper? We see the Davidic King, the Son of David, offering up the singular and unique sacrifice of David's Kingdom - the todah, the Eucharist.
In so doing, He acts the part of Melchizedek, who also brought out bread and wine, and who also was a priest-king. The early Christians saw the significance of this, and that's why St. Paul refers to Melchizedek nine times in the book of Hebrews - six of which are quotes from the coronation hymn, Psalm 110 - when he compares Jesus to this mysterious and ancient priest-king.
But if Jesus is bringing about the kingdom in the first century, then where is it? To restate the original problem, why does He say "I will not eat or drink with you until the kingdom comes," and then proceeds to eat and drink with them?
The answer lies in the nature of Jesus' kingship, which is a Davidic Kingship, which is a Melchizedekian Kingship, which is a priest-kingship.
St. Luke shows us that the kingdom is the central theme of this Last Supper, because immediately after Our Lord offers the disciples the unbloody todah/eucharist sacrifice of His own body and blood, we read that "a dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest." This was a common dispute amongst the disciples, according to the gospels - they knew Jesus was the Davidic Messiah, and they knew they had been called to help Him usher in the kingdom. So naturally, they wanted to know who would have the highest position of power in this royal arrangement - in fact, this is their explicit question in Matthew 18: "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'" (vs. 1)
That they are clearly thinking of the kingdom here in St. Luke's Gospel is confirmed by the way in which Jesus answers them - He answers by speaking to them of royal hierarchy and kingdoms:
And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." (vs.25-26)
Our Lord here restates the paradox that governed - or was supposed to govern - the Davidic Kingdom: the most powerful in authority is the one who is most like a servant. The one who is the greatest of kings is the one who most acts likes a priest. And this is the clincher:
For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. (vs. 27)
Here is the utter mystery of the King - He is unquestionably the king, the ruler, the authority ... and yet, it is as king that He is among them "as one who serves." And what had He just served them? The Eucharist, the todah, the sacrifice that was a hallmark of David's Kingdom.
In acting as a priest there in the Upper Room, in doing what a priest does (offering a sacrifice), Our Lord makes the kingdom a present reality - and then He tells them to "do this" perpetually in imitation of Him (a phrase that only the Gospel of St. Luke records, not including St. Paul's record of the phrase in 1 Cor. 11).
This perfectly explains His next words to His disciples:
I covenant [diatithemai] to you, as my Father covenanted [dietheto] to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (vss. 29-30)
The kingdom is brought to earth in the act of the Davidic King offering the todah sacrifice, in exercising His kingship "as one who serves," but note that this kingdom of His is being handed over to His royal princes. "I covenant to you a kingdom" - but how? With this todah, this Eucharist, this - as He just said a few verses earlier - "new covenant in my blood."
You can see how it all comes together in this one act: He says to them, "this is my blood, and in serving it to you as a meal, I ratify the New Covenant - and in the same act, I covenant to you this kingdom of mine, by telling you to 'do this' as I have done it, and to do it perpetually. I am your king become I am among you as one who serves, and now I am calling you to serve at my table when you 'do this', and in so serving at my table, to eat at my table as princes."
He inaugurates them as royal princes who will judge over twelve tribes (i.e., all of Israel) because He is about to reunite the kingdom, but he makes them princes by first making them priests who are empowered to do what He just did: offer the unbloody Sacrifice of the Eucharist.
If we know our Old Testament, none of this should be news to us! What Our Lord does here, in bringing His kingdom to earth by performing an act of priestly sacrifice, is exactly what King David did when he inaugurated his kingdom.
All the tribes of Israel come to David to make him their king, and they say: "Behold, we are your bone and flesh." (2 Sam. 5:1)
We then read that "King David made a covenant with them." (vs. 3)
Then, David goes out and conquers the last enemy-held territory of the Promised Land, the city of Jerusalem. The text tells us that "David dwelt in the stronghold [of Jerusalem], and called it the city of David." (vs. 9)
At this precise moment when David is coming into his kingdom, establishing his throne, making a covenant with his people - who call him their "flesh and bone" (hint: that's the marital/covenant language of Adam to Eve in Genesis 2) - he then proceeds to act like a priest.
David goes and retrieves the Ark of the Covenant to bring it into the new political capital of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6). As they bring the Ark to Jerusalem, David does several things that he, strictly as a king, should not have been able to do - things that only a priest could do:
1) When the Ark had gone six paces, David "sacrificed an ox and a fatling"
2) We read that David "was girded with a linen ephod," the garment of the priest
3) The Ark was then placed inside the tabernacle, "which David had pitched for it" - again, pitching the tabernacle was the job of the priests
4) David is then the one who goes into the tabernacle to "[offer] burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD."
5) After the offerings were completed, it is David who "blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts"

At the end of this rather schizophrenic episode in which David can't decide whether he's a priest or a king, he performs an act that is so typologically striking, it nearly makes you lose your breath:
when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he ... distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a ['ashiyshah, "flagon of wine"].* Then all the people departed, each to his house. (vs. 19) * Also translated by some versions as "a cake of raisins," which is less in keeping with the nature of the todah sacrifice being offered here
At the inauguration of his kingdom, then, we see David making a covenant with "all Israel" (all twelve tribes), offering sacrifices, and distributing to the congregation 1) bread, 2) meat, 3) wine. These are the three elements of the todah sacrifice, the same three elements of the Passover sacrifice, and a perfect typological symbol of the Eucharist - it is bread and wine, but it is more than bread, it is also "meat indeed" and "drink indeed" (John 6:55).
If David unites all Israel in a new kingdom, and his first royal act is to offer up the todah sacrifice, then it makes complete sense why Jesus, in reuniting the "twelve tribes" (Lk. 22:30), would make the first act of His kingdom an act of todah/eucharistia.
In short, then, the answer to the conundrum posed at the outset of this essay is as follows: Jesus says He will not eat and drink with His disciples until His kingdom comes; He then proceeds to eat and drink the todah sacrifice of His own body and blood, precisely because it is in the act of serving that sacrifice at His own table that His kingdom is made present.
Ubi Rex, ibi Regnum; ubi Eucharistia, ibi Rex.
(Where there is the King, there is the Kingdom; where there is the Eucharist, there is the King)
Jacob Michael