Who Was Malki Tzedek?

In Parshat Lech Lecha, Breisheet 14:18, Avraham encounters Malki Tzedek (King of Justice), Melech Shalem (King of Shalem), Kohen L'El Elyon (a priest of the the Highest God). Malki Tzedek gave Avraham bread and wine and blessed Avraham. Avraham in turn blessed him back and gave him maaser (charity).

Who is Malki Tzedek? Where is Shalem? Why is Avraham accepting food and blessings from him and why is Avraham giving him charity?

According to Eben Ezra, Malki Tzedek is the king of the place of justice meaning Jerusalem. Jerusalem is known as the City of Justice in the book of Yishayahu.

Ramban points out that in the days of Yehoshua, the King of Jerusalem was known as Adoni Tzedek (Master of Justice).

Radak adds that Jerusalem is known as the city of Justice and peace and it will not tolerate "chamas", theft and immoral acts.

In the book of Tehillim (Psalms 76:3) the city of Jerusalem is referred to as Shalem , "In Shalem is set His Tabernacle".

We can conclude that Malki Tzedek was probably not his real name. The Midrash (Targum Yonatan) tells us that Malki Tzedek was actually Shem. Shem was Noach's son (Avraham's long lost ancestor). He was a kohen who only served the Highest God (Hashem) and did not worship idols. It was therefore fitting for Avraham to accept food, wine and blessings from him.

Today we must strive to abide by the highest standards and maintain justice and peace in the city of Jerusalem and throughout the world.