Question: Where was the Judas quote from, actually?

This question came through from a good-hearted, honest thinker:

Hey Glenn -

I have skimmed the ThinkTank as well as Tektonics and I have yet to find an answer for my question. I'm sure I'll find some way to be satisfied by the time I get an answer from you, but it'd still be great to hear your response because we all know you do not give 'shallow, that's how it is' answers. I'm a firm believer in the Word of God - 100% and that is where I base my faith. Here are my apologetic questions:

In Matthew 27 I have been presented with a problem. Matthew 27:9-10 says: Then what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me". Yet where is that found in Jeremiah? Was Matthew confusing Jeremiah with Zechariah? In Zechariah 11:12-13 it says "I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter" - the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter."

How can that be if all Scripture is God-breathed & written through the Holy Spirit? Your thoughts?

I didn't have time to write up an answer, so I just did the research and posted the source quotes for the person:

"thanks for the question--I won't be able to get to a FULL write up of that for quite a while, but I have attached the basic DATA in would start with from several resources for YOU to read/work through. They are probably clear/helpful enough for you in this case, but let me know if you need more info.
thanks, friend.

"Jewish scholars could cite some texts while simultaneously alluding to others. Matthew here quotes Zechariah 11:12–13, but by attributing it to Jeremiah he also alludes to a similar text that he wishes his more skillful readers to catch (Jer 32:6–10; cf. 19:1–4, 10–11). (The quotation is almost verbatim, and it is unlikely that Matthew would have known the text so well yet attributed it accidentally to the wrong author, unless he is using a list of standard messianic proof texts instead of citing directly from Zechariah, or he is purposely “blending” texts, as I suggest here.) Zechariah 11:12–13 refers to the low valuation God’s people had placed on him; they valued him at the price of a slave (Ex 21:32)." [Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Mt 27:9–10). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.]


"Matthew viewed these events as the fulfillment of a prophecy of Jeremiah. But the prophecy Matthew quoted was primarily from Zechariah, not Jeremiah. There is a close resemblance between Matthew 27:9–10 and Zechariah 11:12–13. But there are also similarities between Matthew’s words and the ideas in Jeremiah 19:1, 4, 6, 11. Why then did Matthew refer only to Jeremiah? The solution to this problem is probably that Matthew had both prophets in mind but only mentioned the “major” prophet by name. (A similar situation is found in Mark 1:2–3, where Mark mentioned the Prophet Isaiah but quoted directly from both Isaiah and Malachi.) In addition, another explanation is that Jeremiah, in the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b), was placed first among the prophets, and his book represented all the other prophetic books." [Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Eds.)The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.]


"(x) According to Brown, Death, p. 651, ‘he most plausible [explanation] is that in 27:9–10 Matt is presenting a mixed citation with words taken both from Zech and Jer, and …he refers to that combination by one name’ Jeremiah 18–19 concerns a potter (18:2f; 19:1), a purchase (19:1), the Valley of Hinnom (where the Field of Blood is traditionally located, 19:2), ‘innocent blood’(19:4), and the renaming of a place for burial (19:6, 11); and Jer 32:6–15 tells of the purchase of a field with silver.

"We accept solution (x), for not only was it common practice to substitute part of one verse for part of another, that is, to create conflated citations, but, in early Christian circles, such citations were sometimes attributed to one rather than two sources. Mk 1:2 attributes Mal 3:1 + Isa 40:3 to Isaiah. Rom 9:27 assigns Hos 2:1 + Isa 10:22 to the same prophet. Mt 2:5– attributes to ‘the prophet’ a quotation from Mic 5:2 + 2 Sam 5:2 = 1 Chr 11:2, and 21:5 prefaces its conflation of Isa 62:11 and Zech 9:9 with ‘the word through the prophet saying’ Mt 27:9–10 is one more example of this phenomenon. That Jeremiah is named rather than Zechariah (who is never assigned a quotation in the NT despite several citations) may be due to the prominence of the former or to his reputation as the prophet of doom or to Matthew's desire to call attention to what might otherwise be missed (whereas the use of Zechariah is obvious; cf. Senior). The effect in any event is to prod us to read Zech 11:13 in the light of Jer 18:1ff. (the allegory of the potter) and 32:6–15 (Jeremiah’ purchase of a field with silver). [International Critical Commentary]


The theme of blood money picks up the idea of guilt for the blood of the prophets in 23:29–36, which reaches its climax in 27:24–25. Judas, unable to offload his guilt by returning the money, hanged himself; but the chief priests, by using that same blood money to buy the potter’s field, were also implicated. The Field of Blood (Akeldama) is traditionally located in the valley of Hinnom (from which potter’s clay was dug). These and other hints in Matthew’s wording suggest that he understood the whole story in the light of Je. 19:1–13, where the valley of Hinnom is linked with burials and ‘innocent blood’ and with a potter. Other passages in Jeremiah may also be in mind (the potter’s house in Je. 18; buying a field in Je. 32).
So it is appropriate that the story reaches its climax (9–10) in a formula-quotation, allegedly from Jeremiah, about using blood money to buy a potter’s field. The words quoted are in fact most closely based on Zc. 11:12–13, with its mention of ‘thirty silver coins’ (see on 26:15) which are mysteriously thrown down in the house of the Lord ‘to the potter’. The money in the Zechariah passage is the insulting price at which the God-given shepherd (Messiah) is paid off by his rebellious flock (see on 26:31 for other allusions to this strange prophecy). This is not, however, a simple quotation of a single passage but a subtle weaving together of themes from Jeremiah and Zechariah in the light of the events just recorded. The ‘fulfilment’ Matthew here traces is something much richer than the simple occurrence of a predicted event." [Carson, D. A., France, R. T., Motyer, J. A., & Wenham, G. J. (Eds.). (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., pp. 941–942). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.]


The pathetic end of Judas and the purchase of the burial field was seen by Matthew as a fulfillment of Scripture. Matthew referred primarily to Zech 11:12–13, though the additional allusion to Jer 19:1–13 (and possibly Jer 18:2; 32:6–9) led him to refer the prophecy to Jeremiah. Blomberg (1992:409) and Gundry (1994:557–558) seem to be correct in pointing out that in addition to Zech 11:12–13, several features of Jer 19:1–13 are viewed by Matthew as typological, providing a pattern that is reenacted by the leading priests. It is not unusual for OT citations to be a combination of two or more texts (Davies and Allison 1997:568–569). This is the final “fulfillment formula” citation in Matthew. Some view this passage as having a redemptive meaning, in that the blood money goes for the burial of strangers or foreigners (cf. 25:35), signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles (Bruner 1990:1023). This, however, seems to read too much into the text. Others think that Matthew composed a non-historical story in 27:3–10 as a midrash (commentary) on Zech 11:12–13. If that were the case, one would have expected much closer correspondence between the story and Zechariah. It is better understood that Matthew noticed the similarities between his historical tradition and Zech 11 (Hagner 1995:811), and so he viewed Zechariah typologically. He saw in Jer 19 and Zech 11 “a pattern of apostasy and rejection that must find its ultimate fulfillment in the rejection of Jesus” (Carson 1984:566). And with this notion of prophetic fulfillment comes once again the implicit corollary of divine sovereignty." [Turner, D., & Bock, D. L. (2005). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark (p. 353). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.]


The closest verbal parallels to the Scripture cited in 27:9b–10, however, appear in Zech. 11:12–13, with its references to thirty pieces of silver thrown to the potter in the house of the Lord. On the other hand, many commentators point to the fact that Jer. 32:6–9 describes Jeremiah buying a field, which he sells for seventeen shekels of silver. Rabbis at times would create a composite quotation of more than one Scripture but refer to only one of their sources by name, often the more obscure one (though sometimes also the more important one) to ensure that others would pick up the reference. So there is no problem by the standards of the day for Matthew to refer to two texts like this and name only the more obscure prophetic source. In fact, this is precisely what Mark does in Mark 1:2, as he combines parts of Isa. 40:3 and Mal. 3:1 but cites only Isaiah by name (Davies and Allison 1988–1997: 3:569; for conflated quotations in the OT, see Gundry 1994: 557). But is Jer. 32 the passage (or the only passage) that Matthew has in mind? It may be that Jer. 19 offers a better cluster of images that Matthew may be citing, especially with its references to “the blood of the innocents” (27:4), the “potter” (27:1, 11), the renaming of a place in the Valley of Hinnom (27:6 [the traditional site of the Potter’s Field]), violence (27:11), and the judgment and burial of the Jewish leaders by God (27:11) (see Moo 1983b; Conrad 1991; see also Brown 1994: 651). References to the house of the potter also appear in Jer. 18:2–3." [Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (p. 95). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.]


"While commenting on what happened to Judas Iscariot and his blood money, Matthew introduces a reference to the prophets as part of his favorite theme of the fulfillment of Scripture. He clearly cites Jeremiah as the prophet who gave the saying, but the saying itself is from Zechariah 11:12–13. Did Matthew make a mistake?
The quotation is not entirely a quotation of Zechariah. The majority of the quotation does come from Zechariah 11:13, but there is a change from the first person singular (“I”) to the third plural (“they”). Furthermore, there is no field mentioned in Zechariah (in fact, in Matthew the NSRV follows the Syriac translation and has “the treasury” instead of “the potter” because Matthew clearly is not quoting Zechariah about the location). Finally, Zechariah does not include the phrase “as the Lord commanded me.”
Second, Jeremiah is also involved with potters (Jer 17:1–11; 19:1–13—in this second passage he purchases something from a potter). Furthermore, Jeremiah purchases a field (Jer 32:6–15), although the price is seventeen pieces of silver rather than thirty. Finally, Jeremiah 13:5 has the phrase “as the Lord commanded me” (RSV) (which also has to do with a purchase).
In the first century the Old Testament did not come as a bound volume with chapters and verses. Instead, the work was a series of scrolls. Shorter books were often put together on a single scroll. For example, Zechariah would be part of “The Book of the Twelve,” a single scroll containing all twelve minor prophets. There were paragraph divisions, but they were not numbered. It would be after A.D. 1500 before chapter and verse divisions and numbering were introduced. That means that Jesus in Matthew would have cited an Old Testament passage simply by the name of the author.
When it came to interpreting the Old Testament, it was common to bring passages together based on words they had in common (this is the second of Hillel the Elder’s seven rules of interpretation). In this case, it is clear that Jeremiah and Zechariah have several words in common, especially potter and shekel. Probably potter is the key term. As even the English reader might suspect from the information above, the quotation in Matthew is really Zechariah mixed with several phrases taken from Jeremiah. Again, we need to remember that while this may not be an acceptable way of citing Scripture today (although it is still done by accident!), it was a perfectly acceptable technique in the Palestine of Matthew’s day. (Matthew was probably written in Syria or northern Palestine; he is certainly focused on the Jewish community. Thus he reflects the usage of Scripture in such communities.)
What we have, then, is Matthew pulling together at least two texts in Jeremiah with one text in Zechariah to show that there was a type of biblical prefiguring of Judas’s actions, down to the amount of blood money and the fact that it was given to a potter and was used for the purchase of a field. While the logic of this type of exegesis is strange to the modern Western way of thinking, it would have been viewed as quite normal in Matthew’s time. Likewise it was normal for Matthew to cite the more important prophet, Jeremiah, despite the fact that most of his material came from Zechariah. Thus judged by first-century standards, Matthew is quite accurate and acceptable in what he does." [Kaiser, W. C., Jr., Davids, P. H., Bruce, F. F., & Brauch, M. T. (1996). Hard sayings of the Bible (pp. 399–400). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.]

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