Moving from Psalms to the Prophets, seeking prophesies of Christ’s “Passion Week,” I ran into one of those “difficulties in the Bible.” You know, one of those places that some people immediately want to jump on to “prove” the Bible isn’t trustworthy.
I was reading Matthew 27:9-10, which credits the prophet Jeremiah with foretelling Judas’ thirty silver pieces going to the potter’s field. So, of course I searched for a cross-reference in the book of Jeremiah. No such thing there—but one in Zechariah instead! Hm. What do you do with this?
What to Do?
The easy answer is forget about it! Just discuss something else and skip this “difficulty.” But that wouldn’t be quite honest, would it? Besides, I like to ask the hard questions. I don’t always arrive at an answer overnight. Sometimes that happens years later, but when it does, I’m almost always richer for it (e.g., Christ’s two genealogies).
Wanting to resolve this issue while still posting this series, I immediately looked to see if R. A. Torrey’s Difficulties in the Bible might address it. Afterward I felt a little stupid (especially after yesterday’s post) at not realizing Matthew didn’t necessarily contain any mistake.
Who Said This?
Regarding that last post: Who said, “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption”? Paul, Peter, or David?
All three, of course. Paul and Peter both quoted David’s psalm. If it had gotten lost in antiquity, or weren’t included in the canon of scripture, would their quoting of it become invalid? Of course not! This is very possibly what happened with Zechariah 11:12-13.
Quotes of Quotes
The prophets did quote other prophets. Zechariah himself alluded to former prophecies (Zech 7:7), and in Zech 1:4 he quoted Jeremiah 18:11. Torrey says Zechariah would be especially likely to quote him, because according to a saying the Jews had, “the spirit of Jeremiah was upon Zechariah.” Furthermore, the Bible contains numerous quotes from literature no longer available.
The Main Point: Prophecy Details Fulfilled
The real trouble with such a question is its distraction from the important point: that this incident was prophesied so accurately by whomever (or however many whomevers) so many centuries beforehand! In two verses we have all these details:
Jesus would be valued, at 30 pieces of silver—an insulting amount equal to the Law’s required recompense to a master whose slave had been gored by a bull! (Ex 21:32)
The LORD, in Zechariah 11:13 voices His sarcasm about this sum, calling it “this princely price they set on me.”—Judas had criticized Mary for “wasting” the equivalent of a year’s wages on the Lord (Jhn 12:3-6fn). Then he accepted this paltry sum for betraying him. That’s how much Christ was worth to Judas.
The money would be thrown into the house of the LORD.—When the religious leaders wouldn’t take back the money they’d paid Judas for Christ’s betrayal, he threw it into the temple.
The money would be for the potter.—The religious leaders purchased the potter’s field with it.
Amazingly fulfilled prophecies God gave through men so many years before!