MATTHEW CHAPTER 27
(v. 1) "Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
(v. 2) They bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor.
(v. 3) When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
(v. 4) saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.' But they said, 'What is that to us? See to that yourself!'
(v. 5) And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary [of the Temple] and departed ; and he went away and hanged himself.
(v. 6) The chief priests picked up the coins and said, 'It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.'
(v. 7) So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
(v. 8) That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
(v. 9) Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'"
['They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.' = This part of the passage is very closely related to a passage from the prophet Zechariah:
(v. 4) '''This is what the Lord my God says [to Zechariah]:"Pasture the flock marked for slaughter.
["flock" = the nation Israel who is slated for destruction due to their apostasy]
(v. 5) Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, 'Praise the Lord, I am rich!' Their own shepherds do not spare them. [Israel's rulers and leaders betray and slaughter their own]
(v. 6) For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land," declares the Lord. "I will hand everyone over to his neighbor and his king. They will oppress the land, and I will not rescue them from their hands."
(v. 7) So I [Zechariah] pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I pastured the flock. (v. 8) In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.
The flock [Israel] detested me, and I grew weary of them
(v. 9) and said, "I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's flesh.
(v. 10) Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations [the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel]
(v. 11) It was revoked on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.
(v. 12) I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it' So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid me [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
[They - the people of Israel, Zechariah is saying, paid 30 pieces of silver in order to be rid of this man whom they recognized as a prophet of God but did not want to hear and obey his message from God]. Comparing Mt 27:9-10 with Zech 11:4-13:
(v. 9) "Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'''
(v. 12) "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13) And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter' - the handsome price at which they priced me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter."
"And the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter" - the handsome price at which they priced Me!" = a sardonic, sarcastic comment on such a small sum of money paid to God's chosen man which is approximately equivalent to what one would pay for a slave.
"So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord [the Temple] to the potter" = the potter who worked his trade inside the Temple grounds - evidently for Temple use.
So, Zechariah took the 30 pieces of silver -the price of getting rid of God's message and God's prophet and threw them into "the house of the Lord" - the Temple - to the potter who did his work there. Hundreds of years later, Matthew draws on this account in Zechariah with common points of fulfillment involving Judas Isacariot who would take his 30 pieces of silver paid to him to betray our Lord, the price again of getting rid of God's message and God's Prophet the GodMan Jesus Christ. And Judas would throw the money into the temple - the sanctuary where the priests were; just as Zechariah threw his 30 pieces to the potter who had his shop inside the Temple grounds.
Notice that Matthew's words are not a precise quotation from Zechariah at all, but a commentary:
(v. 12) "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid me [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13) And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter' - the handsome price at which they priced me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter." [Mt 27:9]:
"Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him [Jesus] by the people of Israel
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'''
The critical part of this passage in the original koine Greek looks like this:
kai ..elabon ta ..triakonta arguria
And I took .the thirty .......pieces of silver
ton timen tou .............tetimemenou
the price .of him who was set a price on
on ........etimesanto ..............apo .nion ............Israel
whom ..they set a price on .of ....[the] sons of Israel
kai .edokan auta ...eis ..ton agron tou
and gave .....them. for ..the field ...of the
kerameos katha ..........sunetaxen .moi .Kurios
potter ......according ..as directed me ..[the] Lord
Matthew wrote his gospel presuming that his readers would have a good knowledge of O.T. Scripture, (cp Mt 1:1-17, 22-23; 2:17-18). The presumption of writers of Scripture that the readers would be familiar with the context of passages in the Old Testament occurs frequently both in the Old and New Testaments. So considering that Matthew presumes that his readers are familiar with Old Testament Scripture, that he does not actually quote Jeremiah or Zechariah verbatim, and that instead he paraphrases and draws a parallel from the writings of the prophets with the life of our Lord years later, then it cannot be concluded that Matthew is equating what Zechariah or Jeremiah wrote as a literal and detailed fulfillment in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, but as a fulfillment in certain common points of identity.
[D.A. Carson states, ('The Expositor's Bible Commentary', Vol 8, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1984, Frank E. Gaebelien, Editor, 'Matthew', p. 543)]:
"In both instances [referring to the passages in Matthew and Zechariah] Yahweh's shepherd is rejected by the people of Israel and valued at the price of a slave. And in both instances the money is flung into the temple and ends up purchasing something that pollutes."
On the one hand we have the passage in Zechariah, and on the other hand, the book of Jeremiah provides a lesson which is also very closely related to what author Matthew is saying in Matthew chapter 27:
(v. 1) ""This is what the Lord says: '''Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests
(v. 2) and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you,
(v. 3) and say, "Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.
(v. 4) For they have forsaken Me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
(v. 5) They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal - something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.
(v. 6) 'So beware, the days are coming', declares the Lord, 'when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
(v. 7) In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.
(v. 8) I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds.
(v. 9) I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.' (v. 10) Then break the jar [which the Lord told Jeremiah to purchase, (v. 1)] while those who go with you are watching,
(v. 11) and say to them, "This is what the Lord Almighty says; 'I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter's jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room.'
["Topheth" = an area in the Valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem where children were sometimes sacrificed to the false Ammonite god Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Jer 7:31; cf. Jer 7:32; 19:4-6, 11-14). Later the Assyrian army was destroyed there by God by fire, (Isa 30:31-33)]
(v. 12) This is what I will do to this place and to those who live here", declares the Lord. "I will make this city like Topheth.
(v. 13) The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth - all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts [they were star worshipers] and poured out drink offerings to other gods." ''' ""
[D.A. Carson, op. cit., pp. 563-4]:
[In Jeremiah 19:1-13] "Jeremiah is told to purchase a potter's jar and take some elders and priests to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, where he is to warn of the destruction of Jerusalem for her sin, illustrated by smashing the jar. A further linguistic link [to Mt 27:9] is "innocent blood" (Jer 19:4); and thematic links include renaming a locality associated with potters (19:1) with a name ("Valley of Slaughter" denoting violence (19:6). The place will henceforth be used as a burial ground (19:11), as a token of God's judgment.......
[So, Dr Carson states on pp. 564-5, Op. Cit.]:
"The reference to Jeremiah 19....provides equally telling parallels. The rulers have forsaken Yahweh and made Jerusalem a place of foreign gods (19:4); so the day is coming when this valley, where the prophecy is given and the potter's jar smashed, will be called the Valley of Slaughter, symbolic of the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem (19:6-7). Similarly in Matthew the rejection of Jesus........leads to a polluted field, a symbol of death and the destruction of the nation about to be buried as 'foreigners'......
In the light of these relationships between the events surrounding Jesus' death and the two key OT passages that make up Matthew's quotation, what does the evangelist mean by saying that the prophecy 'was fulfilled'?
Matthew does not need to devise farfetched explanations for each word and phrase, because in each case he has truly represented the central theme. The verbal differences he introduces in citing the OT are not an embarrassment to him, because he is not claiming that the OT text is a prophecy to be fulfilled by a simple one-on-one pattern..........what we find in Matthew, including [Mt 27] vv. 9-10, is not identification of the text with an event but fulfillment of the text in an event"
[Let's examine the parts of the passages which objectors claim involve a misquotation]
(v. 4) For they have forsaken Me [God] and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. [Zech 11:12-13]:
(v. 12) I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it." So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid ME [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13 cont.) And the Lord said to ME [Zechariah], "Throw it to the potter" - the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord [the Temple] to the potter
(v. 9) Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They [the chief priests: the leaders representing Israel] took the thirty silver coins, the price set on HIM [Christ] by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded ME.' [Zechariah]
Notice that the passage in Matthew does not quote verbatim what Zechariah wrote down, or what Jeremiah wrote for that matter. Instead it draws on a number of points of identity - a number of parallels - with a commentary on what Zechariah and Jeremiah say. Matthew uses the pronoun "Him" in Mt 27:9 to mean Christ in order to emphasize a point of identity: which is to identify the prophet and GodMan Jesus Christ with the prophet Zechariah in the passage in Zechariah and God in the passage in Jeremiah in their rejection of God by the nation Israel. The 30 pieces of silver are also brought out as another point of identity. Notice that Matthew uses the pronoun "me" in 27:10 which cannot refer to Jesus because He was not given the 30 pieces of silver, Judas was. This use of "me" then must refer to Zechariah who was commanded to throw the money into the potters' area in the Temple, as Judas did years later, (Mt 27:5). Matthew states that Zechariah was ordered to buy the potters' field, something which the chief priests did in Judas' time, (Mt 27:7), not Zechariah:
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded ME.' [Zechariah] This is Matthew's way of bringing out points of identity.
[D.A. Carson states, op. cit., p.564-5]:
Here "ME" [in Mt 27:10] can only refer to the prophet [Zechariah and not to our Lord]; yet Matthew keeps it ["ME"] even though he changes other parts....to "HIM" [meaning Christ] because he believes that in obeying the Lord, the prophet - whether Jeremiah or Zechariah - was setting forth typological paradigms...
["typological paradigms" - patterns of behavior of individuals pointing to future parallel events in the life of our Lord. Therefore, by this construction, the author Matthew is maintaining NOT a literal fulfillment in every detail but a fulfillment in contextual points of identity, i.e., as Carson puts it:
"... he [Matthew] believes that in obeying the Lord, the prophet [of the O.T. passage which Matthew referred to] - whether Jeremiah or Zechariah - was setting forth "typological paradigms" [emphasis mine] that truly did point to Jesus and the greatest rejection of all.......
....Matthew sees in Jeremiah 19 and Zechariah 11 not merely a number of verbal and thematic parallels to Jesus' betrayal but a pattern of apostasy and rejection that must find its ultimate fulfillment in the rejection of Jesus, who was cheaply valued, rejected by the Jews, and whose betrayal money was put to a purpose that pointed to the destruction of the nation..."
Jeremiah alone is mentioned, perhaps because he is the more important of the two prophets, and perhaps also because, though Jeremiah 19 is the less obvious reference, it is the more important as to prophecy and fulfillment.....
.....in Zechariah 11 the "buyers" (v.5) and the three shepherds (vv 5,8,17) apparently represent Israel's leaders, who are slaughtering the sheep. God commands Zechariah to shepherd the "flock marked for slaughter" (v.7), and he tries to clean up the leadership by sacking the false shepherds. But he discovers that not only is the leadership corrupt, but the flock detests him (v. 8). Thus Zechariah comes to understand the Lord's decision to have no more pity on the people of the land (v. 6).
Zechariah decides to resign (11:9-10), exposing the flock to ravages. Because he has broken the contract, Zechariah cannot claim his pay (presumably from the "buyers"); but they pay him off with thirty pieces of silver (v.12). But now Yahweh tells Zechariah to throw this "handsome price at which they priced me" (probably ironical....) to the potter in the "house of the Lord", i.e., the temple (v.13).
[Footnote from Carson, op. cit., p. 566]:
"...if the amount [of thirty pieces of silver] represents a substantial sum, it is still [only] the price of a slave and representative of how God's prophet is valued [so little] by an apostate people. The same kind of irony probably stands behind ...Matt 27:9...[which literally states - from the original Greek]'the price of the one whose price had been priced by the sons of Israel!'
Temple ritual required a constant supply of new vessels (cf Lev 6:28); so a guild of potters worked somewhere in the temple precincts. Certainly Jeremiah could point to a potter as he preached and could purchase pottery somewhere near the temple (Jer 18:6; 19:1)"
[D.A. Carson, (op. cit., p. 563)]:
"[Matthew's] quotation appears to refer to Jeremiah 19:1-13 along with phraseology drawn mostly from Zechariah 11:12-13..... Such fusing of sources under one 'quotation' is not unknown elsewhere in Scripture."
(v. 2) "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
'Behold, I send My messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way; [blends Mal 3:1 & Ex 23:20]
(v. 3) 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
make ready the way of the Lord,
make His paths straight.' "[ comes from Isa 40:3]
[cf. 2 Chron 36:21, verbally drawn from Lev 26:34-35, yet ascribed to Jeremiah [25:12; 29:10...]..."
[John D. Grassmick states re: Mk 1:2-3, (Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, U.S.A., Walvoord & Zuck, 1988, p.95)]:
'''Mark prefaced this composite quotation from three Old Testament books with the words: "It is written in Isaiah the prophet." This illustrates a common practice by New Testament authors in quoting several passages with a unifying theme. The common theme here is the "wilderness" (desert) tradition in Israel's history. Since Mark was introducing the ministry of John the Baptist in the desert, he cited Isaiah as the source because the Isaiah passage refers to "a voice...calling in the wilderness."
Under the Holy Spirit's guidance Mark gave those Old Testament texts a messianic interpretation by altering "the way before Me" (Mal 3:1) to "Your way", and "the paths of our God" (Isa 40:3 LXX) to "paths for Him." Thus the speaker "I" was God Who "will send" His "messenger" (John) "ahead of You" (Jesus) "who will prepare" Your (Jesus') way. John was a "voice" urging the nation of Israel to "prepare" (pl. verb) "the way for the Lord" (Jesus) and to "make straight paths for Him" (Jesus). The meaning of these metaphors is given in John's ministry (Mark 1:4-5).'''
[C.I. Scoffield, Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, New York Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 1017, footnote #2]:
"A Talmudic tradition states that the prophetic writings were placed in the canon in this order: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc. Many Hebrew manuscripts follow this order. Thus Matthew cited the passage as from the roll of the prophets and by the name of the first book."
Objectors to the inerrancy of Scripture point to an apparent error in the Book of Matthew in misquoting Old Testament Scripture, (Mt 27:10). Careful analysis of God's Word says differently. Because of the rule of context which applies to all of the passages concerned: i.e., the details of the earlier passages in Jeremiah and Zechariah do not perfectly match up with the details of the later historical passage in Matthew and therefore cannot be considered as a detailed fulfillment of a prophecy; it can therefore be established, because of the rule of context, that Matthew is not stating in Mt 27:9 that a prophecy in Jeremiah and Zechariah is herein literally fulfilled in all of its detail.
Objectors might claim 'foul' to this corollary rule of context stating that this kind of reasoning is too contrived and unheard of. Objectors support their stand by pointing to instances in Scripture where they claim that an O.T. passage is misquoted by a
N.T. writer such as Matthew or that a Bible passage is applied to a new situation or individual which is not directly referred to in the passage. Yet this is a common practice in Scripture and in the way people communicate with one another even today! For example, in describing the ways in which one might go to the airport one might bring up a point of comparison between an airport commuter bus and an automobile. But otherwise an automobile is quite different from a bus. So the point of comparison does not equate a car with a bus in every aspect - only with the relative commuting services they provide from home to the airport.
In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul takes a number of historical passages from the Old Testament and uses them figuratively to emphasize and clarify the difference between the Law and the Promise, (grace). Paul directly explains in verse 24 that he is taking these O.T. passages figuratively to make a point. Other Bible authors like Luke in Acts chapter 2 explain what they are doing more subtly by simply stating something on the order of, 'This instance is like what happened over here in the O.T., 'not intending that the reader conclude that the two instances being compared are identical in all aspects. Let's examine what commonly occurs in Scripture, namely the use of a passage in God's Word to emphasize and clarify a point of identity:
(v. 22) "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.[Gen 16:15; 21:2]
(v. 23) His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.[Gen 17:15-19]
(v. 24) These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. [Ex 19:5] One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: [Ex 24:6-8] (v. 25) Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.
(v. 26) But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
(v. 27) For it is written:
'Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.'[Isa 54:1]
(v. 28) Now you brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise [Gen 17:5-19]
(v. 29) At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. [Gen 21:9] It is the same now.
(v. 30) But what does the Scripture say?
'Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.'[Gen 21:10]
(v. 31) Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman."
So when Matthew writes in Mt 27:9:
"Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled...", he was not saying that what was spoken of in Jeremiah was literally fulfilled in all of its detail because the context, chronology and details obviously do not match up. What author Matthew is writing about is a comparison of points of identity which focuses on Israel's rejection of God's message of repentance from idolatry and sin through the prophet Jeremiah and through the prophet Zechariah and then again through the Prophet and GodMan Jesus Christ. The thirty pieces of silver mentioned in Zech 5:13 and the brutal, bloodletting violence alluded to in Jeremiah, (vv. 6-9), are also points of identity referred to in Matthew's account, (Mt 27:6), this time with respect to the crucifixion of our Lord.