on Hebrews 7 :4
Consider how great this man was - There is something exceedingly mysterious in the person and character of this king of Salem; and to find out the whole is impossible. He seems to have been a sort of universal priest, having none superior to him in all that region; and confessedly superior even to Abraham himself, the father of the faithful, and the source of the Jewish race. See Hebrews 7:7.
The patriarch Abraham - Ὁ πατριαρχης· Either from πατηρ, a father, and αρχη, a chief or head; or from πατριας αρχη, the head of a family.' But the title is here applied, by way of eminence, to him who was the head or chief of all the fathers - or patriarch of the patriarchs, and father of the faithful. The Syriac translates it Rish Abahatha, "head of the fathers." The character and conduct of Abraham place him, as a man, deservedly at the head of the human race.
on Hebrews 7 :4
Now consider how great this man was - The object of the apostle was to exalt the rank and dignity of Melchizedek. The Jews had a profound veneration for Abraham, and if it could be shown that Melchizedek was superior to Abraham, then it would be easy to demonstrate the superiority of Christ as a priest to all who descended from Abraham. Accordingly he argues, that he to whom even the patriarch Abraham showed so much respect, must have had an exalted rank. Abraham, according to the views of the East, the illustrious ancestor of the Jewish nation, was regarded as superior to any of his posterity, and of course was to be considered as of higher rank and dignity than the Levitical priests who were descended from him.
Even the patriarch Abraham - One so great as he is acknowledged to have been. On the word "patriarch," see the notes on Acts 2:29. It occurs only in Acts 2:29; Acts 7:8-9, and in this place.
Gave the tenth of the spoils - see the notes, Hebrews 7:2. The argument here is, that Abraham acknowledged the superiority of Melchizedek by thus devoting the usual part of the spoils of war, or of what was possessed, to God by his hands, as the priest of the Most High. Instead of making a direct consecration by himself, he brought them to him as a minister of religion, and recognized in him one who had a higher official standing in the matter of religion than himself. The Greek word rendered here "spoils" - ἀκροθίνιον akrothinion - means literally, "the top of the heap," from ἄκρον akron, "top," and θίν thin, "heap." The Greeks were accustomed, after a battle, to collect the spoils together, and throw them into a pile, and then, before they were distributed, to take off a portion from the top, and devote it to the gods; Xen. Cyro. 7, 5, 35; Herod. i. 86, 90; 8:121, 122; Dion. Hal. ii. In like manner it was customary to place the harvest in a heap, and as the first thing to take off a portion from the top to consecrate as a thank-offering to God. The word then came to denote the "first-fruits" which were offered to God, and then the best of the spoils of battle. It has that sense here, and denotes the spoils or plunder which Abraham had taken of the discomfited kings.
on Hebrews 7 :4
7:4 The greatness of Melchisedec is described in all the preceding and following particulars. But the most manifest proof of it was, that Abraham gave him tithes as to a priest of God and a superior; though he was himself a patriarch, greater than a king, and a progenitor of many kings.