Blessed be Yahweh, God of Shem, let Canaan be his slave!  May God make space for Japheth, may he live in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his slave!  
Genesis 9:26-27

According to the Jewish Oral Tradition and to Catholic theologians like St. Nicholas of Lira, Shem is the King of Righteousness [Melchizedek in Hebrew] to whom Abraham pays a tithe in Genesis 14:18-20.  Shem was the righteous firstborn son of Noah in whom the covenant with Yahweh and the line of the "promised seed" of Genesis 3:15 continues. Shem is the first man in Sacred Scripture who is identified as Yahweh's man [see quotation above from Genesis 9:26].  Abraham is Shem's descendant according to the Biblical genealogy of Genesis 11:10-26.

Shem's age Descendants
100 years Birth of Arpachshad
135 years Birth of Shelah
165 years Birth of Eber
199 years Birth of Peleg
229 years Birth of Reu
261 years Birth of Serug
291 years Birth of Nahor
320 years Birth of Terah
390 years Birth of Abraham
490 years Birth of Isaac
565 years Death of Abraham
600 years Death of Shem

Shem outlived Abraham

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1991 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Question: The Fathers of the Church saw Melchizedek as a type of Christ.  What parallels can you see between this righteous King of Salem and Jesus of Nazareth?
Answer: Both Melchizedek and Jesus serve Yahweh as:

  1. A righteous firstborn son.
  2. Serves Yahweh as priest and king.
  3. Melchizedek rules in Salem /Jerusalem, and Jesus rules in the heavenly Jerusalem 
  4. Priestly offering of bread and wine; Jesus = Eucharist 
  5. Receives tithes & offerings 
  6. Higher order of priesthood than the Sinai Covenant Levitical priesthood: Melchizedek's priesthood, like Jesus' priesthood, is based on his firstborn son-ship.

Biblical references to Melchizedek: Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:5-10; 6:20; 7:1-17

Prophecy of Genesis chapter 15