religious and political concept by which a ruler is seen as an incarnation, manifestation, mediator, or agent of the sacred or holy (the transcendent or supernatural realm). The concept originated in prehistoric time but it continues to exert a recognizable influence in the modern world. At one time, when religion was totally connected with the whole existence of the individual as well as that of the community..there could be no kingdom that was not in some sense sacral…
Basic to an understanding of sacred kingship is a recognition that the exercise of power of one person over other persons or over a community…could be exercised by only one person—one who simultaneously had the necessary physical (individual and corporate) and spiritual (psychic) strength and influence—over both people and objects. Because he was ruler over a community, the king’s power extended to everything pertaining to the life of the community…
especially in ancient kingdoms or empires, the king was regarded as a god…
A broader foundation for the divinity of the king is the view of the king as the son of a god…The first king has been regarded as a god and his successors as sons of the god in a number of societies…
An especially frequent expression of the relationship of the king to divinity in Egypt…was that of the king…addressed by the god as “my living image on earth”…
The “sacred” aspect of kingship is expressed in modern religious terms as the Catholic Pope being the Vicar of Christ – vicarious / substitute agent.
In addition to the conception of a king as the incarnation of supernatural power and the possible equality of the king with the divinity, there is also a widespread belief that the king is the executive agent…the servant of a god…the king remains in a subservient relationship to him. Even when the king possessed or disposed divine power and had sacral character and sacral duties, he remained subordinate to the god who selected him and put him into his regal position. The king had a mediating position between the gods and man, especially in his significance for the cult (thus, Sargon of Akkad is first described in inscriptions as deputy of Ishtar).
This describes the priestly aspect of sacral kingship.
Functions of the sacred king: the king as the source of cosmic power, order, and control
- Because he has a supernatural power over the life and welfare of the tribe, the usual function of a sacred king is to bring blessings to his people and area of control as in the fertility of the soil, cattle, and human beings but mostly the coming of rain. He has power over the forces of nature and against evil of all sorts.
- In Mesopotamia the description of the king as a shepherd was quite frequent. This expresses the most important functions of the king—he provides his people with food; he leads them and protects them from dangers and, at the same time, shows his superiority over them.
- As the judge the sacral king personified the protection that the community provided for the individual by providing for a balance of power in the community, mediating quarrels, and protecting individual rights. He was the lawgiver and the highest administrator for all community affairs.
- As the protector of his people from enemies he was the chief warlord. He alone was regarded as the one who triumphed over the enemy. On the other hand, there was the concept that the king, because of his sacral character, should not personally take part in war.
- Chief priest, prophet and seer even after a division of functions evolved into many cult functionaries.
Two characteristics in the coronations of kings and emperors which remain in many modern cultures demonstrate most clearly the sacral character of the kingdom. Through ascent to the throne, the king is placed higher than other men, connected him with supernatural powers. The coronation which places “a colored circle often seen around and close to a luminous body (such as the sun or moon)” is viewed as a cosmic new beginning. The throne, crown, headdress, garment (as sign of dignity), and sceptre (the staff through which the rule is carried out) were originally believed to contain the power through which the king ruled.
In becoming someone else (a god), the king receives a new name. In Egypt five throne names comprise the whole king theology: birth name, royal name, hawk name, serpent name, and a name that designates the king as heir of the power of the gods of the stars.
you’ll discover Jesus as the ultimate priest, prophet, and king foreshadowed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures
Uhm, “foreshadowed” doesn’t accurately define the very actual roles carried out by a succession of YHVH’s very actual representatives restoring very actual human relationships with YHVH.
“this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;” (Hebrews 7:1-2)
And there are these melchisedecs.
“four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, And they sung a new song…out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:7-11)
After being given
- a crown which has been earned in combat: “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:11)
- a new robe as a reward for battle unto death: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
- and a new name / promotion in rank. “Him that overcometh…I will write upon him my new name.” (Revelation 3:12)
There has always a human individual serving in the order of Melchi-zedek / YHVH’s human King of Righteousness throughout all of biblical history from Adam onward.
“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec...” (Hebrews 5:1-5)