In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 27:9-10, Matthew describes the account of Judas with the high priests after his betrayal of Jesus and how he throws the betrayal money of thirty pieces of silver down in the temple in front of the high priest and runs off . The priests then take the money and use it to purchase a potter’s field. This account is referred to by Matthew as a fulfillment of prophecy spoken by Jeremiah. However, the details about the betrayal price, the place of transaction, and the eventual use of the money are given in the prophet Zechariah, in chapter 11:12-13 “…So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, ‘cast it unto the potter’… And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” So why is this prophecy attributed to Jeremiah by Matthew instead of Zechariah? Did Matthew make a mistake?
Not likely! Although it’s possible there was a scribal error or amendation here that wasn’t part of the original text of Matthew, using this explanation is not necessary or even the most probable. First of all, there is more information in Matthew’s reference than we can get from the passage in Zechariah alone, such as the purchase of the field with the silver, or the account of the betrayal of “innocent blood” and references to the “Field of Blood in Matt 27:3-8. But the New Testament writers often combined and summarized the writings of several prophets, as they were led by the same Holy Spirit that inspired those prophets to begin with. Sometimes these combinations were done in a rather subtle fashion, requiring some spiritual discernment on the part of the reader, similar to the understanding that was needed to receive Jesus’s parables.
In Jeremiah 18 the illustration of a potter and clay is used for the Creator God and His people, and in Jeremiah 18:2 relates that there was a potter who had his workshop near the infamous Valley of Hinnom. The “Field of Blood” mentioned in Matt 27 is by tradition located in the Valley of Hinnom or “Valley of Slaughter” (Jer. 19:6). The whole object lesson in this part of Jeremiah uses an illustration where a vessel of pottery is broken and this represents judgment for disobedience and for innocent blood being shed: ” Even so will I break this people and this city,as one breaks a potter’s vessel… and they shall bury them in Tophet (another name for the Valley of Hinnom)…” (Jer. 19:11) , “they have filled this place with the blood of innocents” (Jer. 19:4) Also Jeremiah 32 talks about the purchase of a field with silver. So many additional passages in Jeremiah can be related closely to some of the historical details in Matthew’s account of Judas and the high priests.
For more information on this, and how the quote from Matthew combines different elements of several Old Testament passages, as well as other examples of this kind of Scripture quoting , see article here
It was a common practice for the Jewish writers to bring together several passages of the Old Testament, which makes sense in light of the Old Testament passages all being inspired by the same Spirit. This type of quotation was done in other places in the New Testament. For an example, see Mark 1:2-3 where Mark quotes Malachi 3:1 and also Isaiah 40:3, but only cites Isaiah the prophet instead of both of them. (note-some translations don’t mention Isaiah in Mark 1:2-3, but textual criticism scholars have concluded that the original text contained the Isaiah reference). We may not quote scripture the same way today, but this was a common practice in Matthew’s time.
The custom of the Jewish writers was to combine elements of several OT passages, but only reference the most prominent writer, such as Jeremiah or Isaiah. Also, the prophetic books were written in scrolls, and several prophets were often put on one scroll. When any one of the prophets in that scroll was quoted, the referenced writer would be the first book. So Jeremiah could have been the first prophet in a scroll that also contained Zechariah. Indeed, Jeremiah is referenced as first among the prophets in the Babylonian Talmud (Ibid., page 2)
These are just a few of the ways that this “contradiction” can be reconciled, and there is no need to charge Matthew with the carelessness that many critics would like to pin on him. Instead, we have a prophecy/prophecies that no one would initially see as as prophecies, so they would not be likely to invent a fulfillment. Rather, after recording the historical events of Jesus’ life including his betrayal price, the location of the transaction, the ultimate destination of the betrayal money, all tied together to the same “Field of Blood”, one could clearly see how prophecy and history remarkably matched up.