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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Potters Field

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(ἀγρὸς τοῦ κεραμέως ; Vulg. ager figuli), a piece of ground which, according to the statement of Matthew (27:7), was purchased by the

priests with the thirty pieces of silver rejected by Judas, and converted into a burial-place for Jews not belonging to the city. In the narrative of the Acts (1:18, 19) the purchase is made by Judas himself, and neither the potter's field, its connection with the priests, nor its ultimate application is mentioned. That Matthew was well assured of the accuracy of his version of the occurrence is evident from his adducing it (Rev. 1865:9) as a fulfillment of an ancient prediction. What that prediction was, and who made it, is not, however, altogether clear. Matthew names Jeremiah; but there is no passage in the book of Jeremiah, as we possess it (either in the Hebrew or Sept.), resembling that which he gives; and that in Zechariah, which is usually supposed to be alluded to, has not a very perfect likeness to it.

Matthew 27:9

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 potters field, as the Lord appointed me.

Zechariah 11:12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And Jehovah said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at by them! And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of Jehovah.

Even this coincidence is somewhat doubtful; for the word above translated "potter" (הִיּוֹצֶר ) is in the Sept. rendered "furnace," and by modern scholars (Gesenius, Fü rst, Ewald, De Wette, Herxheimer-following the Targum, Peshito-Syriac, and Kimchi) "treasury" or "treasurer." Supposing, however, this passage to be that which Matthew refers to, several explanations suggest themselves:

1. That the evangelist unintentionally substituted the name of Jeremiah for that of Zechariah, at the same time altering the passage to suit his immediate object, in the same way that Paul has done in Romans 10:6-9 (comp. with Deuteronomy 8:17; Deuteronomy 30:11-14), 1 Corinthians 15:45 (comp. with Genesis 2:7). See Jowett, St. Paul's Epistles (Essay on Quotations, etc.).

2. That this portion of the book of Zechariah a hook the different portions of which have been thought by some to be in different styles and by different authors-was in the time of Matthew attributed to Jeremiah.

3. That the reference is to some passage of Jeremiah which has been lost from its place in his book, and exists only in the evangelist. Some slight support is afforded to this view by the fact that potters and the localities occupied by them are twice alluded to by Jeremiah. Its partial correspondence with Zechariah 11:12-13, is no argument against its having at one time formed a part of the prophecy of Jeremiah; for it is well known to every student of the Bible that similar correspondences are continually found in the prophets. See, for instance, Jeremiah 48:45, comp. with Numbers 21:27-28; Numbers 24:17; Jeremiah 49:27, comp. with Amos 1:4. For other examples, see Dr. Pusey's Commentary on Amos and Micah.

4. The name "Jeremiah" may have been added by some later hand. This is the most probable view. (See JEREMIAH, BOOK OF).

There are several potteries now in Jerusalem, as there seem always to have been. On the present spot shown as "the Potter's Field," SEE ACELDAMA.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Potters Field'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/potters-field.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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