Nimatallah/Art Resource, NY

“Blessed be Abram!” cries the priest Melchizedek (left) of Salem—an abbreviated form of Jerusalem—as the patriarch returns from a successful battle. Melchizedek, who is identified as priest of El-Elyon (God Most High) proffers bread and wine to Abraham, as depicted in this fifth-century C.E. mosaic from the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. In return, Abraham offers the priest ten percent of his war booty as a tithe (Genesis 14:18–20).

David, too, apparently honored a local Jerusalemite priest—the Canaanite Zadok; David’s action was justified by this account of Abraham’s tithe.