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Thirty Pieces of Silver!

Did the Evangelist Matthew really mis-quote the Prophet Jeremiah regarding Judas?


Damien F. Mackey

“Who was Matthew Quoting?”, ask Dave Miller and Eric Lyons in relation to the Evangelist’s most controversial chapter 27.


After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10). For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah”(Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter? ….

[End of quote]

Miller and Lyons then go on to provide their reasonable answer to this difficulty – though it is still not without its own problems.

So here, instead, I introduce a totally different angle to the matter. I have just completed an article, entitled:

A Case for Multi-identifying the Prophet Jeremiah


according to which the prophet Jeremiah may also have been, among others, the prophet Zechariah. If so (and the whole thing is still extremely tentative), then the above problem dissolves completely. Saint Matthew has attributed to the prophet Jeremiah words that do indeed belong to the prophet Zechariah, but quite rightly, since Jeremiah was (as per my article) this Zechariah!

Is the New Testament here giving us a vital clue thereby enabling us to fill out the life of the great prophet Jeremiah of such limited genealogical detail? Despite admitted difficulties with these my efforts toward prophetic multi-identification (e.g. names, chronology and geography), I was able to lean upon this, and upon certain other strengths of my radical new theory. For instance, according to Jewish tradition, Zechariah was ‘possessed’ of the spirit of Jeremiah (http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zechariah.htm):“[Zechariah] leans avowedly on the authority of the older prophets, and copies their expressions. Jeremiah especially seems to have been his favorite; and hence the Jewish saying that “the spirit of Jeremiah dwelt in Zechariah”.”

Again, both Jeremiah (29:10) and Zechariah (1:12) refer to the “70 years” of punishment.

And (http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/htm/OT/Ezekiel/Ezekiel.htm):

Ezekiel was a Judean priest of Yahweh as well as His prophet, as were Jeremiah (Jer. 1:1), Zechariah (Zech. 1:1) …. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Zechariah were the only writing prophets who were also priests, and they all ministered during or after the Babylonian exile.

[End of quote]

{In my article, the similarly alike prophet Ezekiel has also been incorporated into the multi-identification mix}.

Again, Jeremiah and Zechariah witness to the measuring of Jerusalem (as did Ezekiel):

Jeremiah 31:39: “And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah”.

Zechariah 2:1-2: “I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length”.”

And also looked forward to a Davidic king, Jeremiah’s and Zechariah’s “branch”(Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8). {As did Ezekiel}

Finally, it is worth noting that Jeremiah, but never this Zechariah, is named in the Gospels. And one of the few cases of reference to Jeremiah there is that already-mentioned one of Matthew 27:9, the apparent ‘misuse’ of Zechariah.


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