Matthew 27:10
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
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27:1-10 Wicked men see little of the consequences of their crimes when they commit them, but they must answer for them all. In the fullest manner Judas acknowledged to the chief priests that he had sinned, and betrayed an innocent person. This was full testimony to the character of Christ; but the rulers were hardened. Casting down the money, Judas departed, and went and hanged himself, not being able to bear the terror of Divine wrath, and the anguish of despair. There is little doubt but that the death of Judas was before that of our blessed Lord. But was it nothing to them that they had thirsted after this blood, and hired Judas to betray it, and had condemned it to be shed unjustly? Thus do fools make a mock at sin. Thus many make light of Christ crucified. And it is a common instance of the deceitfulness of our hearts, to make light of our own sin by dwelling upon other people's sins. But the judgment of God is according to truth. Many apply this passage of the buying the piece of ground, with the money Judas brought back, to signify the favour intended by the blood of Christ to strangers, and sinners of the Gentiles. It fulfilled a prophecy, Zec 11:12. Judas went far toward repentance, yet it was not to salvation. He confessed, but not to God; he did not go to him, and say, I have sinned, Father, against heaven. Let none be satisfied with such partial convictions as a man may have, and yet remain full of pride, enmity, and rebellion.And gave them - In Zechariah it is, I gave them. Here it is represented as being given by the priests. The meaning is not, however, different. It is, that this price "was given" for the potter's field.

As the Lord appointed me - That is, "commanded" me. The meaning of the place in Zechariah is this: He was directed to go to the Jews as a prophet - a pastor of the people. They treated him, as they had done others, with great contempt. He asks them to give him "his price" - that is, the price which they thought he and his pastoral labors were worth, or to show their estimate of his office. If they thought it of value, they were to pay him accordingly; if not, they were to "forbear" - that is, to give nothing. To show their "great contempt" of him and his office, and of God who had sent him, they gave him thirty pieces of silver - "the price of a slave." This God commanded or "appointed him" to give to the potter, or to throw into the pottery to throw away. So in the time of Jesus the same thing was substantially repeated. Jesus came as the Messiah. They hated and rejected him. To show their contempt of him and his cause, they valued him "at the price of a slave." This was thrown down in the temple, taken by the priests, and appropriated to the purchase of a field owned by a "potter" - worn-out land of little or no value; all showing at how low a price, through the whole transaction, the Son of God was estimated. Though the words quoted here are not precisely like those in Zechariah, yet the sense and general structure are the same.

9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying—(Zec 11:12, 13). Never was a complicated prophecy, otherwise hopelessly dark, more marvellously fulfilled. Various conjectures have been formed to account for Matthew's ascribing to Jeremiah a prophecy found in the book of Zechariah. But since with this book he was plainly familiar, having quoted one of its most remarkable prophecies of Christ but a few chapters before (Mt 21:4, 5), the question is one more of critical interest than real importance. Perhaps the true explanation is the following, from Lightfoot: "Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets, and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest in Mt 16:14; because he stood first in the volume of the prophets (as he proves from the learned David Kimchi) therefore he is first named. When, therefore, Matthew produceth a text of Zechariah under the name of Jeremy, he only cites the words of the volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of the prophets. Of which sort is that also of our Saviour (Lu 24:41), 'All things must be fulfilled which are written of Me in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms,' or the Book of Hagiographa, in which the Psalms were placed first."Ver. 7-10. They at last resolve what to do with the money, which was no great sum, for, as we noted before, it exceeded not three pounds fifteen shillings. They would not turn it to their own private use, for (probably) it was before taken out of the treasury; neither would they again return it into the treasury, because it had been made use of as the hire of blood. They therefore agree to buy with it a piece of ground ordinarily known by the name, of

the potter’s field, probably because some potter had digged earth, and thrown the waste of his pot kilns there, so as it was of no great value. This field the vulgar, upon this purchase of it by the priests, called many years after, The field of blood. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet. The evangelists use this term fulfilled, as I have before noted, in very different senses.

1. Sometimes to express the accomplishment of a prophecy.

2. Sometimes to express the fulfilling of a type, or answering it by the antitype.

3. Sometimes to express an allusion to some other scripture, mentioning some matter of fact of a like nature.

For the text here quoted, we have no such text in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, which are upon sacred record. Jeremiah indeed did buy a field by order from God, Jeremiah 32:9, to declare his faith in God’s promises for the return of the Jews out of captivity, but he bought it of his uncle Hanameel, and for seventeen pieces of silver; and that he was a potter, or that the field was called by that name, we do not read. The nearest place in the prophets to this text is Zechariah 11:12,13, And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. It is a very hard text as it lies in the prophet to give a just account of. The prophet was one of them who prophesied after the captivity of Babylon, yet, Zechariah 11:6, he plainly prophesieth after God’s destruction of the Jews and of Jerusalem. Which destruction being after that of the Chaldeans, to what it should refer, but to the last destruction of the Jews by the Romans, I cannot understand. Zechariah 11:7, he saith, I will feed the flock of the slaughter, that is, the flock designed for the slaughter, or drawing near to the slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. Christ came in person to feed the church of the Jews, but they also abhorred him, so that he abhorred them, and resolved to cast them quite off; Zechariah 11:8,9. So he broke first his staff called Beauty, took away all the glory and beauty of that church. Then, as it were in indignation, he saith, If ye think good, give me my price. What requital will you give me for my labour amongst you? So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. Their selling of Christ to a traitor for so much, signified their high contempt of him. And the Lord said, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. The evangelist indeed doth not quote the very words of the prophet, but the substance of them. And for my part I think, that the evangelist here by fulfilling meaneth the accomplishment of the prophecy in Zechariah. For I know not what other tolerable sense to make of the prophecy, if we do not say the prophet spake in the person of Christ, foretelling his own coming amongst them, their rejection and contempt of him, and his utter rejection of them; and prophesying, as a piece of their contempt and rejection of him, their selling him to Judas for thirty pieces of silver, (a most contemptible price), and God so ordering it by his providence, that this money should again be brought them, and this potter’s field should be bought with it. So as I think that text was fulfilled here more than by allusion, or as it was typical to this act, and that this act was the very thing which there is prophesied, and here fulfilled. But how Matthew saith this was

spoken by Jeremy the prophet is a harder knot. It is observable that Zechariah hath many things found in Jeremiah, and it is not improbable that the very same thing was prophesied by Jeremiah, though afterward repeated by Zechariah, and only in the writings of Zechariah left upon sacred record. Matthew having now given us an account of the fate of Judas, returneth to our Saviour, carried (as we heard) before Pilate.

And gave them for the potter's field,.... In the prophet it is, "and I cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord", Zechariah 11:13; whereas here it is, "they gave them"; but the word Matthew uses may be rendered, "I gave", as it is by the Syriac; and as the last words require it should, "as the Lord commanded me"; otherwise there will be no coherence between them: and whereas the thirty pieces of silver are, in the prophet, said to be cast, or given "to the potter", and here, "for the potter's field", there is no contradiction: the plain sense is, that they were given to the potter, as a valuable consideration for his field: and whereas it is added, "in the house of the Lord", which the evangelist does not cite the reason is, because this money was first cast down in the temple by Judas, and after being taken up by the priests, they covenanted with the potter for his field, and paid him for it with this money in the sanctuary. The evangelist, instead of this last clause, puts,

as the Lord commanded me; which have made some think, that there should: be a different reading; and that instead of "the house", it should be read "according to the commandment": but there is no need to suppose this: the evangelist is justified in the use of this phrase, by what is said in the prophet in the beginning of Zechariah 11:13, "and the Lord said unto me": and this is only a transposition and explanation, according to a rule the Jews have, , "invert, or transpose the Scripture, and explain it" (e). Should it be said that the Messiah, and not the betrayer, nor the priests, is said to cast this money to the potter, or give it for the potter's field; it may be replied, that Jesus may be said to do that which Judas, and the chief priests did; because, by his almighty power and providence, he overruled those things for good, which in themselves were evil. Judas thought to have converted the money to his own use, and the priests would have been glad to have taken it again to themselves; but Christ obliged Judas to carry back the money to the priests, and cast it into the temple, and worked upon the minds of the priests, not to put it into the treasury, but to buy the potter's field with it, whereby the prophecy, in its literal sense, was fully accomplished.

(e) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 119. 2. & Vajikra Rabba, sect. 27. fol. 167. 4.

And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
Matthew 27:10. Ἔδωκαν, they gave) In Zechariah it is ἔδωκα, I gave; and some[1177] have introduced it from the Prophet into the Evangelist, and Gebhardi clearly approves it on Zechariah 11:13. In this passage, however, it is written ἔδωκαν; and the force of ἔδωκα, and therefore the whole difference of the words of St Matthew from those of Zechariah, is supplied by the clause, “As the Lord enjoined me.”[1178] The LXX. have the same formula in Exodus 9:12καθὰ συνέταξε Κύριος τῷ Μωυσῇ, as the Lord enjoined Moses.[1179]—συνέταξε, enjoined) sc. to write or to say.

[1177] In his Apparatus Criticus, Bengel says, “ἔδωκαν) ἔδωκα, Aug. 4, duobus locis, Syr. Ex Zacharia. Probat Amama Antibarb., p. 573, et versu 9 construit, ἔλαβον ἀπὸ, κ.τ.λ. Sic quoque Io. Kaiserus et alii, quos notat Rus. T. 3, Harm. Ev., p. 1073, accepi a filiis Israel. ἔβαλον L. Ambigue. Vid. Gnom.”—(I. B.)

[1178] E. V. “As the Lord commanded me.”—(I. B.)

[1179] This is the reading of the Codex Alexandrinus: the Vatican MS. omits the two last words.—(I. B.)

Tisch. says that 3 MSS. and both Syr. Versions read ἔδωκα. But the cass of authority is for ἔδωκαν.—ED.

Verse 10. - Gave them for the potter's field. This part of the citation is borrowed from Jeremiah's purchase of the field of Hanamel (ch. 32.). The Christian writer introduces a second fulfilment of the ancient word. As the Lord appointed me. This must be the equivalent of Zechariah's "the Lord said unto me" (Zechariah 11:13). The destination of these wages of iniquity was foreordained. They could not be used by the Shepherd, nor stored in the temple treasury, nor kept by Judas or the priests; they were to be employed for another purpose. Matthew 27:10
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