Here we continue examining some Biblical prophecies (Index) -more fan fiction?
(3) In the fifth century BC, a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem’s poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a “potter’s field,” used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10).
Here’s a broader context of the passage (from Biblegateway.com, as usual, ESV):
7 So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. 8 In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9 So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” 10 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11 So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. 14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Where’s the “Messiah”? Even looking before and after the above excerpt, it seems to just be talking about a shepherd… a standard occupation at the time. How can a prophecy be amazingly accurate when the thing isn’t even mentioned? Who is Jesus here? The potter? The shepherd? How do we know the Messiah is who the author was referencing?
One may be able to make some kind of loose association between the shepherd and Jesus, but I’m not really interested in “if you squint enough it kind of looks like this other thing”.
Also, if this was predicting the future, what about the other bits?
- What about these two staffs, that represent covenants? What do they represent (and how do we know?)
- If Jesus is the shepherd, did he let his “flock” die, and let the remaining eat each other? Did he destroy three shepherds?
- Who was going to kill Jesus’s flock? Who were they?
Here’s a rule of thumb for apologists… if the prophecy is not literal, but instead depends on interpretation… that interpretation must be strongly substantiated. Otherwise, the credibility (if any) is ground into a fine dust.
If the author is ignoring the above related assertions, then he’s merely engaging in cherry-picking, which makes it considerably easy to manufacture an illusion of consistent fulfillment.
At a conceptual level, this is yet more fan fiction – using the Bible to prove the Bible. I don’t think it even qualifies as postdiction, though, because there’s nothing here. The author may as well have pointed to some random part of the book instead.
Everything seems to pivot solely on the “30 pieces of silver” phrase and the “potter” word, which Matthew 27:3 mentions. Nothing else matches… Zachariah 11 doesn’t mention anything that could even be interpreted as “burial ground” or “potter’s field”. The 30 pieces of silver are “thrown to the potter“. It comes across as more of a “take your wages and donate them to the basket-weaver.” It has nothing to do with purchasing graveyard real estate, or being paid a bounty prize.
So how do we know that Zachariah 11 predicts Matthew 27? Because the strings “30 pieces of silver” and “potter” are found in both… apparently. That’s it – two likely common things in the day. It’d be like saying that the movie “Last Action Hero” (1993) is a prediction of losing construction equipment to the ocean under Jindal’s administration in Louisiana… because both involve construction equipment, and water.
I thought maybe the ESV translation just words it differently, but examining several other translations, they all seem to describe similarly.
For a top-mention Biblical prophecy, this seems to just be desperate. This random-word-matching apparently had a 1:100,000,000,000 chance of coming true.