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, And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me, Matthew 27:9, 10.
This passage has long confounded bible students who note that the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied about the thirty pieces of silver, and yet Matthew when speaking about the potter's field, quotes the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremy). You can search the Book of Jeremiah and never find that quote. What you can find is Jeremiah making the purchase of a field. 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, Jeremiah 32:9.
Before we look at the relevance of Jeremiah and the potter's field, we can look at Zechariah's prophecy. Matthew is not attempting to quote Zechariah. They are two distinctly different prophecies though they each revolve around the same incident. What did Zechariah say?
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. 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, Zechariah 11:12, 13.
Zechariah describes Judas Iscariot getting his price for betraying Jesus Christ. In Zechariah's prophecy it is Judas Iscariot who casts the thirty pieces of silver into the temple to be used for the potter's field. Zechariah speaks in the first person. He uses the words I and me. When Matthew quotes Jeremy the prophet he speaks in the second person. He uses the words they and him. Both are looking at the same event.
Zechariah sees it through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. In that prophecy Judas is ordered to take unto him the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For those who have trouble seeing Judas Iscariot returning as the Anti-Christ, look no further than Zechariah 11:17; Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. It is all part of the same prophecy. Even the Apostle Paul spoke of the idol shepherd when he said; Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led, 1st Corinthians 12:2. Who led men to use little statues for worship? The idol shepherd led them.
What Matthew does in quoting Jeremiah is give us a glimpse of something not recorded in writing. This is not the only time that the New Testament reveals an Old Testament occurrence that was never written down. The Apostle Paul tells us, Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, 2nd Timothy 3:8. Until then, Jannes and Jambres were only remembered in Jewish oral tradition. Another such example is found in the Book of Jude; Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee, Jude 1:9. I would suggest that the brethren keep their tongues before lightly discounting Jewish oral tradition.
It is interesting to pay attention to what Jeremiah did with the money given to him. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days, Jeremiah 32:14. To this I recall something taught by J. Vernon McGee. He explained that when archeologists examine a newly uncovered village or settlement, one of the first things that they look for is the potter's field.
Potters situated their shops next to fields in which clay was easy to find. A potter's field would contain shards of broken pots and vessels that were beyond the potter's ability to fix. The field would contain vessels half formed by inexperienced apprentices whose work was too poor to keep and too botched to repair. In frustration the potter or his servants would cast off the broken vessels into the field. Brother McGee noted that the first thing ever purchased on this earth by the blood of Jesus Christ was all of the broken vessels that the art of man could not repair and had cast off as worthless.
What was an earthen vessel made from? It was made from the clay in the potter's field. When Jeremiah put his money into an earthen vessel, he too put it in the potter's field. He placed it in a vessel made out of the potter's field. We now know through Matthew's gospel that the lesson was not lost on Jeremiah and that he prophesied of the betrayal of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus Christ, Jeremiah was wrongly imprisoned. Like Jesus Christ he was imprisoned by the priests. As it was in the days of Jeremiah, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Gentiles after the imprisonment of Jesus Christ.
Much more can be learned by believing what the bible says than by questioning it.