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What prophecy does Matthew say was fulfilled by the purchase of the Potter’s Field with the blood money Judas cast into the temple?  See Mat 27:9-10.  Through whom does he say the prophecy was spoken?  Where does it appear that the prophecy is actually found?  See Zec 11:12-13.  How do we reconcile this seeming error of Matthew?  See Luk 24:44 and observe that unlike our present grouping, the Jews organized our Old Testament Scriptures into three sections: the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings.  And just as the Writings were often referred to by the first book contained in it as in Luk 24:44, so were the Prophets often referred to by the first book contained in it, which was Jeremiah.  See also Mar 1:2-3 where Mark combines a prophecy from Mal 3:1 and Isa 40:3 to describe the ministry of John the Baptist, but ascribes it only to the “major” prophet Isaiah.  With this thought in mind, does the prophecy that Matthew refers to actually seem to come entirely from Zechariah?  By carefully comparing the two passages Mat 27:9-10 and Zec 11:12-13, what parts are similar, and what parts are different?  While both speak of thirty pieces of silver, how do the different verbs used by Matthew to describe what happened to the money illustrate a very different aspect from that described by Zechariah?  I.e., whereas Judas is the one in focus in Zechariah’s prophecy as the money was weighed out to him and cast by him into the house of the Lord, who is clearly in focus in the prophecy Matthew refers to where the money is taken and given for the Potter’s Field?  Does Matthew mention anything about the wages mentioned in Zechariah?  More importantly, does Zechariah mention the field that is the focus of what Matthew says was fulfilled through what was spoken by Jeremiah?  Notice also that there is a word play, or perhaps a confusion, in the Hebrew words used in Zec 11:13 between potter rceAYh; (hayyotser) and treasury rc’Aah’ (haotsar), so that Matthew seems more to have in mind the rendering followed by the NRSV[1] that doesn’t mention a potter at all, but rather the temple treasury.  Think too: whereas there was clearly a treasury in the house of the Lord into which silver could be thrown (cf. Mat 27:6), can the same be said about a potter in the temple that would also make good sense?  Is it even possible that potter was perhaps read back into Zechariah’s prophecy after the fact having been influenced by the events Matthew is here recording?

Although no mention of a field is found in Zechariah, and even the mention of a potter may be a confusion of the treasury that Matthew seems to have had in mind into which the thirty shekels of silver Judas cast into the sanctuary would normally have gone, which prophet not only mentions both a potter and the purchase of a field but has major prophecies related to the Jewish nation involving them?  See Jeremiah 18:1-11, 19:1-15, and 32:1-44.  And yet, what connection is there between these messages through Jeremiah that epitomized his ministry to Israel in its last days before the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer 1:10, 31:28, 42:10) and the potter’s field purchased with the money the Jewish leaders paid Judas to betray Jesus?  Think: in what similar way was the nation at that time again in its last days before it’s destruction?  Although the Jewish leaders would quickly have dismissed it as a mere coincidence, in what way would the forced purchase of the potter’s field have been a sovereign reminder of Jeremiah’s prophecies and the nation’s history of disobedience and destruction, and hence a warning about that history repeating itself?  Consider too that just as Judas traded eternal riches for the 30 pieces of silver that ended up being worthless to him, so did the religious leaders representing the nation do essentially the same: they sold their Lord for the price of a slave and in essence ended up exchanging Him for a potter’s field next to the valley of Hinnom (i.e., Gehenna) in which to bury strangers.  In this way they too traded away the eternal riches of His kingdom for what to them was the anathema of an unclean place, but what to the Gentiles who were strangers to the covenant was eternal life; cf. Eph 2:12,19.  For it was through the Jews’ rejection of the gospel that salvation came to the Gentiles as the Master Potter reshaped the ignoble vessel of the unbelieving Jewish nation into the Israel of God composed not of the physical descendants of Abraham, but of his spiritual descendants who were of the same faith as he.  See Act 18:6, 28:24-28, Rom 9:6-7,20-24, 11:11-12,25-26, and 2Ti 2:20-21.  Also recall that Matthew was writing at the very time the gospel was beginning to go forth to the Gentiles and the Jews were beginning to reject it all the more as a result.  Consider too the word of the Lord to Jeremiah to purchase the field even as Jerusalem was under siege and about to be destroyed: In what way was that a sign that God’s promises to His faithful servants were still true and He was accomplishing His sovereign purposes in spite of the dire circumstances seemingly to the contrary?  In what similar way was the purchase of the potter’s field for the burial of the broken vessels of strangers as seeds in God’s Garden also a sign that all of His promises were still true and He was still accomplishing His sovereign purpose of establishing His kingdom not just among the Jews, but over all the kingdoms of the world—even as the nation had rejected and crucified the Christ?  Cf. Joh 12:20-26, 1Co 15:37-38.

Hence, although the words we read in Matthew at first seem to be a quotation from Zechariah, in fact, they are succinctly recording a much broader truth breathed through the spirit of Jeremiah’s prophecies that culminated in the words of Zechariah years later, and that reached their greatest fulfillment in the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah; cf. the context of Zechariah’s prophecy in Zec 11 that is of the Lord giving His Jewish flock over to the destruction of foolish shepherds.  See also Joh 10:16.  What does this teach us about how the spirit of prophecy is much more than just the ipsissima verba of Scripture?  What does it also teach us about the depth of spiritual understanding possessed by God’s servants that transcends any mere mechanical knowledge of the written text?  Do we aim for that same understanding?  But is such an understanding possible without first possessing a grammatical and historical understanding of the written text?  Cf. 2Ti 2:15.

[1] Zec 11:13 NRS Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it into the treasury”—this lordly price at which I was valued by them.  So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the LORD.

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