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... In this patriarchal order of priesthood, Shem stands next to Noah. He held the keys to the priest-hood and was the great high priest of his day. [Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 474; D&C 138:41.]
Living contemporary with Shem was a man known as Melchizedek, who was also known as the great high priest. [D&C 107:2; Hebr 7:4; Alma 13:17; Gen 14:18-20.] The scriptures give us the details of Shems birth and ancestry but are silent as to his ministry and later life. Of Melchizedek, however, the opposite is true. Nothing is recorded about his birth or ancestry, even though the Book of Mormon states that he did have a father. (Alma 13:17-18.) Concerning his ministry and life we have several interesting and important facts. (Gen 14:18-20; Hebr 4:1-4; Alma 13:17-18.)
All of this provokes some questions and calls for answers. Were there two high priests presiding at the same time? Why is the record silent concerning Shems ministry? Why is nothing known concerning Melchizedeks ancestry?
Because of this state of knowledge on our part, many Saints and gospel scholars have wondered if these men were the same person. The truth is, we do not know the answer. But an examination of the scriptures is fascinating, because it seems to indicate that these men may have been one and the same. For example, here is the case for their oneness:
On the other hand, there is a case for their being two distinct personalities. Many persons believe D&C 84:14 is proof that there are perhaps several generations between Melchizedek and Noah. The scripture says, "Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah."
If it does turn out that Shem and Melchizedek are the same person, this scripture should prove no stumbling block, because it could be interpreted to mean that priesthood authority commenced with Adam and came through the fathers, even till Noah, and then to Shem.