And gave them for the potter's field
In the prophet it is, "and I cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord", ( Zechariah 11:13 ) ; whereas here it is, "they gave them"; but the word Matthew uses may be rendered, "I gave", as it is by the Syriac; and as the last words require it should, "as the Lord commanded me"; otherwise there will be no coherence between them: and whereas the thirty pieces of silver are, in the prophet, said to be cast, or given "to the potter", and here, "for the potter's field", there is no contradiction: the plain sense is, that they were given to the potter, as a valuable consideration for his field: and whereas it is added, "in the house of the Lord", which the evangelist does not cite the reason is, because this money was first cast down in the temple by Judas, and after being taken up by the priests, they covenanted with the potter for his field, and paid him for it with this money in the sanctuary. The evangelist, instead of this last clause, puts,
as the Lord commanded me;
which have made some think, that there should: be a different reading; and that instead of (tyb) , "the house", it should be read (tdk) , "according to the commandment": but there is no need to suppose this: the evangelist is justified in the use of this phrase, by what is said in the prophet in the beginning of ( Zechariah 11:13 ) , "and the Lord said unto me": and this is only a transposition and explanation, according to a rule the Jews have, (whvrdw arqmh oro) , "invert, or transpose the Scripture, and explain it" F5. Should it be said that the Messiah, and not the betrayer, nor the priests, is said to cast this money to the potter, or give it for the potter's field; it may be replied, that Jesus may be said to do that which Judas, and the chief priests did; because, by his almighty power and providence, he overruled those things for good, which in themselves were evil. Judas thought to have converted the money to his own use, and the priests would have been glad to have taken it again to themselves; but Christ obliged Judas to carry back the money to the priests, and cast it into the temple, and worked upon the minds of the priests, not to put it into the treasury, but to buy the potter's field with it, whereby the prophecy, in its literal sense, was fully accomplished.
F5 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 119. 2. & Vajikra Rabba, sect. 27. fol. 167. 4.