ABC:Zechariah 11

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Verse 12

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org states twice that a contradiction exists here, asking "Who bought the potter's field?"[1] Meritt notes of Matthew 27:9-10 "(mentions Jeremy but no such verse in Jeremiah) is in Zechariah 11:12-13" and of Zechariah 11:12-13 "(Note: There is nothing in Jeremiah remotely like this.)"

Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Meritt makes a serious mistake in assuming the verse would need to be in the book of Jeremiah, first of all, since Jeremiah is also believed to have authored the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and Lamentations.

Secondly, Meritt is incorrect that no similar verses exist in the book of Jeremiah, as Jeremiah does speak of a field's purchase with 17 pieces of silver. The field mentioned was in Anathoth which like the field Judas bought in Aceldama would have been very close to Jerusalem.[2] If so, this may have been an early precursor to the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13.

Jeremiah 32:6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.
8 So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

Jeremiah also contains a prophecy which involves Jeremiah buying a "potter's earthen bottle", going to the "valley of the son of Hinnom" (exactly where Judas' field of Aceldama was), and prophesying an "evil upon this place".

Jeremiah 19:1 Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;
2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

There is an excellent note in "Hard Sayings of the Bible" by Kaiser et. al. for Matthew 27:9-10:

The quotation is not entirely a quotation of Zechariah. The majority of the quotation does come from Zechariah 11:13, but there is a change from the first person singular ('I' to the third plural ('they'. Furthermore, there is no field mentioned in Zechariah (in fact, in Matthew the NSRV follows the Syriac translation and has 'the treasury' instead of 'the potter' because Matthew clearly is not quoting Zechariah about the location). Finally, Zechariah does not include the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me.'

Second, Jeremiah is also involved with potters (Jer 17:1–1; 19:1–3—in this second passage he purchases something from a potter). Furthermore, Jeremiah purchases a field (Jer 32:6–5), although the price is seventeen pieces of silver rather than thirty. Finally, Jeremiah 13:5 has the phrase 'As the Lord commanded me'(RSV) (which also has to do with a purchase).
-Hard Sayings of the Bible[3]

Furthermore, as Apologetics Press writers Dave Miller and and Eric Lyons point out, Matthew 27 never said that Jeremiah wrote the prophecy, only that he spoke it.[4] Because of that fact alone, this cannot be considered a contradiction. Since Jeremiah lived shortly before Zechariah, it is quite possible Zechariah was reporting an earlier prophecy spoken by Jeremiah just as Paul and the Gospel authors later reported what Jesus spoke. Miller and Lyons also reference verses related to potters such as Jeremiah 18:2-3, 19:1-2, and 19:11.

Sources

  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  2. Bible History Online. Aceldama. Retrieved from http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=40&sub=492&cat_name=Bible+Cities&subcat_name=Aceldama.
    Bible History Online. Anathoth. Retrieved from http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=40&sub=496&cat_name=Bible+Cities&subcat_name=Anathoth.
  3. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, & Brauch (2004). Hard Sayings of the Bible. p. 399. Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=2eT5CbuJCWoC&pg=PA399&lpg=PA399.
    ChristianThinkTank.com. Where was the Judas quote from, actually? Retrieved from http://christianthinktank.com/judas30where.html.
  4. Miller, D. & Lyons, E. (2004). Who was Matthew quoting? Apologetics Press. Retrieved from http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658.