The High Priesthood

In the Latter Day Saint movement, the High Priesthood is known as the Melchizedek Priesthood for those that identify as male, and the Magdalene Priesthood for those that identify as female (Doctrines of the Saints 119:16). This is because the High Priesthood combines the dual position of king or queen and Priest or Priestess.

Melchizedek is Hebrew for “King or Peace,” “king of righteousness,” or “my king is righteousness.” Melchizedek was the king of Salem and a High Priest of El Elyon, the Most High God. According to The Second Book of Enoch Melchizedek was born of a virgin by the wife of Nir, a brother of Noah. The child born clothed, and speaking, he blessing the Lord, and was marked with a symbol of the priesthood. Later, in that same book, he was taken to the Garden of Eden and preserved from the Flood, outside of Noah’s Ark.

According to revelation from Joseph Smith Jr. the title for the High Priesthood given to males and those that identify as males in this dispensation is named after him “because Melchizedek was such a great High Priest” (Doctrines of the Saints 5b:2). In the Torah, Melchizedek is the first person to be given the title of “Kohen” (priest), with Adam and Eve being the first in the 1 Book of Moses.

The Lord has identified the High Priesthood for women as the Magdalene Priesthood, as these women are set apart as both queens and High Priestesses. Mary Magdalene is the wife of Jesus Christ and witness to his crucifixion and resurrection. Luke 8:2–3 states that Mary had seven demons had been driven out of her by Jesus. It also states that she was one of the women who helped support Jesus’ ministry financially, meaning she was likely wealthy.

Known in some Christian traditions as the “apostle to the apostles,” Mary Magdalene is seen as the closed person to the Savior. In many now Apocryphal texts popular at the time of early Christianity, Mary is portrayed as a prophetess and leader of the early movement. She was rejected by the early Catholic Church, and defamed in 591 when Pope Gregory I accused her of being the “sinful woman” who anointed Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. Today we know her to be a prophetess on the same level as Melchizedek.

The term “Magdalene” is in reference to the city Magdala, which is from the Aramaic (Magdala) and Hebrew (Migdal) meaning “tower.” Magdala was a fishing city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Putting these two facts together may imply that “Magdalene” is in reference that Mary was both a fisher of mankind (an apostle) and a leader (tower), a head of the Church in ancient times.

While in the time between Moses giving the Torah to Israel and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Levites were the only ones with the proper authority in Israel to fill the roles of the Low or Levitical Priesthood (with the exception of times and places where there were no Levites, as seen in the Book of Mormon), the High Priesthood was available to any called of God. The High Priesthood has been on the earth at least from the time of Adam and Eve, the first High Priest and High Priestess that we are aware of.

This High Priesthood, both the male and the female, are led by Jesus Christ, the One High Priest over all the earth (Psalm 110:4). All members of the High Priesthood are both representatives of and servants to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:6-10). The purpose of the High Priesthood is to bring the Heavens to the Earth, uniting the Creator and the Creation in Jesus Christ (Doctrines of the Saints 119:10). While all those that hold the High Priesthood are High Priest/High Priestesses, the offices of these brothers and sisters are divided up based on callings: Elder, High Priest, Evangelists, Patriarch/Matriarch, Seventy (Elder), Seventy (High Priest), and Apostle.

Scripture references: 1 Moses 25:24; 2 Moses 28:15; Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:4; Zenos 9 header; Alma 10:7-15 RAV, 13:14-19 OPV; Luke 8:2; John 20:1-18; Doctrines of the Saints 5a-5b, 5g:22, 8b:32, 10b:4-6, 13b:31-32, 15d:17, 42:45, 118g:13, 119:3, 16; Michelle 1:60; Hebrews 5:6-10, 6:20, 7:1-21.

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