Solving the Dilemma of Matthew 27:9-10

In Matthew 27:9-10 we see Matthew quoting from Jeremiah to bolster the case that the betrayal of Jesus was prophetically announced hundreds of years before. The problem correctly pointed out by Biblical critics is that the quote has nothing to do with Jeremiah!

Wikipedia, fountain of all unbiased knowledge, gleefully pronounces that this is an example of ” the early Christians’ fictional and imaginative use of the Old Testament as a book about Jesus.”

However, as usual the truth lies buried deeper in antiquity. We have two better options:

1. Combined Prophecies…

It turns out there could be two passages being welded together into this quote. This was a common rabbinical technique that combined related prophetic passages to reveal meaning. In this case combining Jeremiah 19:1-11 and Zechariah 11:12-13.

However, Jeremiah mentions nothing of the field, the price, or the potters field. But it does contain a clear prophecy about a coming judgement on Israel that begins in the area of the garden of Gethsemane/Mount Zion/Kidron Valley. It lines up very closely with the prophecies given by Jesus about the destruction of the Temple and city of Jerusalem in Matthew chapter 24.

Because Zachariah mentions details of the silver, potters field and betrayal, but is not a prophecy, it is combined with Jeremiah. Because Jeremiah is the major prophet he gets the credit. I don’t like this interpretation!

2. Just Zachariah…

The second possibility is that there was an error in translating the story into the Greek manuscripts, which came after earlier versions in Aramaic or Hebrew. The Greek manuscripts only mention Jeremiah. However, the earlier Aramaic version of Matthew doesn’t even mention the name of any prophet. In addition, the quote is clearly a paraphrase from Zachariah, not Jeremiah as you will see if you go to this link.

In the footnotes to Matthew 27:9-10 in the Passion Translation there is also a reference to the Hebrew version of Matthew with a claim that it only mentions Zachariah as the source of the scriptures. I have now verified this source. I have also emailed the publishers to send me the link to their Hebrew Version of Matthew to double check.

So the evidence is that it is clearly a quote from Zachariah and that the Greek translators of Matthew got it wrong. It is also clear that the Greek translations come after earlier versions in the languages of Israel at the time; Aramaic and Hebrew. This would make perfect sense given Greek was of no use to the first readers who were mainly Jewish and several early church fathers speak of earlier Hebrew versions of Matthew in circulation.

This also explains why Wikipedia critics, using only the Greek, have once again come to a conclusion that suits their worldview.

Kevin Davis