“Melchizedek.” “Melchizedek” is perhaps more easily understood if it is spelled as a hyphenated word, “Melchi-zedek” (“My king is righteousness”). It is noteworthy that at this point during the time of Abraham, “Salem” (Jerusalem) was ruled by a godly king, but when Joshua entered the land some 450 years later, Jerusalem was ruled by Adoni-zedek (“My lord is righteousness”) who was a very ungodly king and organized a confederation of armies to attack Gibeon, which had made peace with Joshua (Josh. 10:1-5).
[For more on Melchizedek, see Hebrews 7:1-17.]
“Salem.” “Salem” is apparently the oldest and original name of Jerusalem, and this is the first time it occurs in the Bible. “Salem” means “peace,” (related to shalom, “wholeness, peace”). The first time the city is recorded as being called “Jerusalem” is Joshua 10:1, and the king at that time was Adoni-zedek. When the Jebusite city of Jerusalem was finally conquered by David, the king of the city was not named, although the city was called “Jebus” as well as Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:6-9; 1 Chron. 11:4-7).
“bread and wine.” This would not have ordinarily been any kind of grand reception in the biblical world; in fact, it is so ordinary that to a man of Abram’s wealth and stature, it would have been an insult. The bread and wine are mentioned because they prefigure the death of Jesus Christ, as he showed us at the Last Supper. It is likely that with, or after, the bread and wine that other food was brought out. We know that Abram knew about the coming Messiah, and in fact, would begin to offer his son in a way that pictured the Messiah (Gen. 22:1-18). This verse shows that Melchizedek also knew much about the coming Messiah.
“a priest.” The Hebrew text does not read “the priest,” even though many English versions have that reading. The Hebrew text is “a priest,” and that is likely. At this early time before Israel existed and thus before God chose Israel to be His chosen people, people who believed were His people, and there is little reason to doubt that some of those people acted as priests to God, not just Melchizedek.
“of God Most High.” In Hebrew the translation “God Most High” is very literal; the phrase means “the Most High God” (cp. NET) and that is the phrase that occurs in the New Testament.