30 Pieces of Silver
Zechariah 9,10 and 11 present us with another conundrum. Now, one might expect that those looking for evidence to attack the reliability of the Bible [or at least the New Testament] would jump all over this one. But they don’t.
Matthew claims in verse 27:9 that the prophecy in Jeremiah is fulfilled by Judas’ actions. Judas regretting what he has done tries to return the blood money to those who gave it to him. But they will not take it. So he throws it on the floor. Matt 27:7 So the priests and the elders take council and buy a potter’s field to bury strangers.
The prophecy spoken of is in two parts. The first part is found in Jeremiah ….
“And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard. I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.” Jer. 32:9-15
We find the second part in Zechariah …
“Then the LORD said to me, “Cast it into the treasury” — the lordly price at which I was paid off by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and cast them into the treasury in the house of the LORD.” Zech. 11:13
Your translation may say treasury or temple, however in the Hebrew it says “to throw the magnificent precious money into potter [to make a form], in the house of the LORD”. Potter is a verb here not a noun.
The majority of Matthew’s quote is from Zechariah yet he says, “then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah”.
Over the centuries all kinds of suggestions have been made as to how Matthew might have made this mistake. The favorite of the modern expositors is that it is specified “spoken by the prophet Jeremiah,”; not written. They expound that somehow, somewhere, at some time there was an oral tradition that has since been lost. How convenient!
Others postulate that the mere mention of the Zechariah passage tells the listeners who wrote that portion of his quote and that his mention of Jeremiah is out of honor for the more prominent of the two prophets.
If you think we know the definitive answer; the secret reason for this; you would be wrong. We are not all knowing. But someone does. One day we will pick up an old dusty theology book, completely unrelated that will say, “Oh by the way in Matt 27’s the Jeremiah reference is because” …. Then we will quickly rewrite this paper.
Best guess? Matthew may have quoted from a Targum that was a collection of prophecies, and was simply titled Jeremiah even though it was a compilation of OT prophets. Targums were ancient Aramaic renderings; small portions of the Hebrew Bible, paraphrased and interpreted during the 1st century AD when Hebrew was declining as a spoken language.
One thing we do know is that Matthew was not mistaken about prophecy being fulfilled in Yeshua, his birth, betrayal, subsequent death, and resurrection.
An Interesting side note regarding Jer 9 where the prophet is told to buy a field. His cousin turned up at the same time wanting to sell him a field in their home town of Anathoth. Anathoth is a city of refuge [Josh. 21:18] and named for the Canaanites goddess Anat the goddess of war. This was done to show the people that even though the clouds of war are already forming and they are going into exile in Babylon, they would again return to the land and buy and sell property once more. [Jer 32:15, 42-44]
Some of you may remember from our paper “Ass’ Colt” that we maintain that if you have a definite date in time fulfillment of prophecy from chapter “A” and another from chapter “C” then chapter “B’s” fulfillment most likely will be found in between the two dates. We find our God to be a God of order and when speaking in terms of prophecy; it is given more often than not in sequential order; give or take a fewyears. NOT 2000 years later as some find so popular to say. We are of the NO GAPS contingent.
With that said let us move on to the two sticks …
In this passage the Lord talks about his two staffs; Grace and Union. The staff of Grace represents His covenant with the Mosaic Temple Sacrificial Law. The staff of Union represents the brotherhood between the 1st century Church and Jewish Community as they worshiped together in the synagogues. [James 2:2]
Chapter 11 opens with what is commonly understood as a reference to The Temple as the doors of the Temple were made of Lebanon cedars. It speaks of the destruction of her glory and the cries of the shepherds. The Lord is not happy with these shepherds [Ps 23; Is 44:28; Jer 51:23; Ez 34:8] For more on this see Temple Omens.
In the first century the Jewish community was governed by three different groups, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Hellenizers. The Pharisees, meaning literally the “Righteous Ones”, were in charge of the synagogues. They were distinguished by their strict observance of the traditional and written Mosaic Law. The Sadducees emphasized the observance of written Mosaic Law alone. They ran The Temple. The Hellenizers were of Jewish blood, practicing Mosaic ritual but had rejected the Jewish culture and had embraced the Greek culture. Some even went so far as to have their circumcisions reversed so that they could participate in the Olympic Games.
These ruling groups are the three shepherds of verse 8 who are destroyed for their rejection of Messiah [shepherd with the two staffs] and for their trafficking and selling [corruption of the Law] of the sheep [Jewish community]. He pulled out the staff of Grace and broke it; thereby, annulling the covenant of Mosaic Temple Sacrificial Law. With the destruction of The Temple in 70AD this covenant was forever broken.
In verse 12 the Lord is asking the Jews, those who claim God as Lord, to recognize Him, to recognize their Messiah. He was their true Shepherd; the only one worthy of their allegiance and veneration. In asking for His wages he was asking for what was due Him. Judas was paid what the Temple priest thought was the worth of the Messiah and God laid on him to throw it back into the Temple, into the house of the Lord which had become a den of robbers [Matt 21:12].
Then in the chronology the Lord takes up the Staff of Union and breaks it. Remember the staff of Union represented the brotherhood between the first century Church and the Jewish Community. Why would this have to be broken?
The obvious answer to that is the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish leaders and thereby their flock of sheep. While there was a time period when believers would visit in the synagogues, worshiping and sharing their faith with the Jews, by the time of the Bar Kokhba rebellion the ties to the Jewish community were severed forever.
The worthless shepherd in verse 15 is Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism was founded by Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph during the Bar Kokhba rebellion or The Second Jewish revolt 132 – 135 A.D. Akiva created the Rabbinic Judaism that we know today; Judaism without a temple. It’s chief tenet is that Jesus of Nazareth is not the promised Messiah of Israel. This new religion was created to hold the Jewish community together after the destruction of the Temple, 70AD. Bar Kokhba named Simon ben Kosiba surnamed Simon bar Kokhba, “son of the star”, was the leader of this last resistance against the Romans. At the beginning of this revolt about one third of Bar Kokhba’s forces were Christian Jews. As the revolt progressed Akiva named Bar Kokhba as the Jewish Messiah. This caused a conflict among the Jewish Christians who then left his army because they knew that he was not the Messiah. About half of those that left joined the Romans, so as to but down this false Messiah. The resulting loss to the Romans was blamed on the Christian Jews who left Bar Kokhba. Since then it is considered that those Jews who convert to Christianity are traitors and no longer Jews.
Just as in days of old when the Lord set in place the Priesthood and the Temple, today we have Pastors and Teachers who the Lord has chosen and set apart to be shepherds over His sheep until His return. Unfortunately as in days of old many of these shepherds have become corrupt and as white washed tomes [Matt 23:27]. And as Akiva did for the Jews our Pastors and teachers are deceiving themselves and their flocks by creating a Messiah and doctrine that tickles the ears and follows after fads and whims. We need to get back to the scripture and find the truths clearly stated; separating ourselves from Rabbinic Judaism as well as Babylonian Paganism.