Melchizedek, who claims to be the King of Salem, appears to Santiago as an old man living in the Spanish town of Tarifa, and although he appears only briefly in the book, he plays an important role as he introduces several of the key concepts that we see repeated throughout The Alchemist. For example, he tells Santiago about Personal Legends, the Soul of the World, and Beginner’s Luck. He also gives Santiago two magical stones, Urim and Thummim, which represent “yes” and “no” respectively, to help guide him on his journey. Melchizedek is also the first character in The Alchemist to display magical powers. Those powers help him convince Santiago to pursue his dream of finding a treasure near the pyramids in Egypt.
By his own account, Melchizedek plays a role in the lives of everyone who pursues his or her Personal Legend. He essentially motivates people to continue pursuing their Personal Legends in times of doubt, as he does when he meets Santiago in the novel. Although he appears to Santiago as a flesh-and-blood man, he explains that he appears to people more often as a symbol or idea. Evidently he has been serving this purpose for a long time, as he remembers helping the biblical Abraham in his own journey. Even when Melchizedek is not physically present, the magical stones he gives Santiago help Santiago to remain hopeful and focused as he pursues his Personal Legend.