Misapplication of the passage re: 30 pieces of silver examined (Matt. 27:9-10)

Matthew 27:9-10, "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, and whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me." Here again, we meet with the usual misapplication of Scriptural passages. The quotation, taken from Zechariah 11:12-13 runs as follows: "So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter," etc. The unbiased reader need merely refer to the context from which this passage is extracted, in order to obtain the conviction that the prophet wished to convey a far different idea than Matthew found in it. Zechariah, in the chapter before us, represents the fate of the children of Judah during the captivity, who had become the prey of their enemy for having transgressed the commandments of the Almighty, and hence he designates the Jews of the second temple as the flock of the slaughter.

The prophet Zechariah’s account (in chapter 11:7) of his taking two staves, the name of the one being "Beauty," and the name of the other "Bands," must not be viewed in its literal, but in its metaphorical sense. The staves signify the leaders of Israel, for the shepherd conducts his flock by means of the staff or crook in his hand. Now the prophet hereby intimates that Israel would be treated according to the merit of their doings. The Staff "Beauty" (i.e. lenient treatment) was used in the early days of the second temple, when such leaders as Nehemiah and Zerubbabel stood at the helm of Government; while the misgovernment of the succeeding rulers, which crippled and ultimately destroyed the energies and well-being of Israel, was designated "Bands" (i.e., harsh treatment). The simultaneous death of three righteous leaders, alluded to by the prophet, may have been in reference to Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, after whose decease severe calamities came upon the Jewish nation.

The shepherd in the prophecy claims his wages—that is to say, he demands that the pious observance of the Divine statutes should be offered as a compensation for the special favors of the Almighty. The thirty pieces of silver are a figurative representation of the righteous men of the time, who were cast to their potter (i.e. literally thrown upon the mercy of their Former or creator). The Staff (termed Bands) was broken’ for we learn from our history that the misrule prevailing in Jerusalem was productive of Israel’s overthrow. Indeed, it seemed as if every successive bad Government had been destined to be the avenger of the misdeeds of its predecessor. Whether it be correct or not, to refer the details of the prophecy to certain known historical characters, this much is evident, that the political government of the Jews, and their destiny, are the circumstances alluded to by the prophet. No thinking man can, however, admit that the prophecy had reference to Jesus, in whose fate his Jewish contemporaries were so little concerned.

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