Prefigurations of the Eucharist in the Old Testament

An image of Melchizedek
portrayed in a mural in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington.

The book of Genesis (14:18-20) identifies Melchizedek as the king of Salem. According to tradition, the word “Salem” corresponds to “Jerusalem.” Another possibility, however, proposes that the word “salem” is another form of the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.” Melchizedek, then, would be a king of peace, an ally with Abram.

To celebrate a successful battle, Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of bread and wine in thanksgiving for a victory. He says, “Blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.” Melchizedek is a type of Christ and this offering of bread and wine foreshadows the Eucharist.