I received the following comments, continuing the discussion begun in “Jeremiah’s Pieces of Silver”:

Here are some verses in Jeremiah to look up.  Jer 7:31-34 and Jer 19:1-15.  These verses are talking about the Valley of Hinnom, which is the same place as the potter’s field, which is also where Judas was thrown. Basically the 30 pieces purchased the field, but also purchased the curse on that land.  Judas was a partial fulfillment of that curse (the firstfruit) where AD 70 was its fulfillment. Just so you know the Zech reference says the money was to go to the potter in the house of the Lord (i.e. the person in charge of making ceremonial pottery for the temple).  All misshapen pottery was to be thrown out as unclean and broken.  It was to be thrown into the Valley of Hinnom.

Jeremiah 7:31.  And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.  32.  “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. 33.  The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away. 34.  Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.

Jeremiah 19:1.  Thus says the LORD: “Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests.  2.  And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you,  3.  and say, “Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle.  4.  “Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents  5.  (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind),  6.  therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.  7.  And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth.  8.  I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues.  9.  And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive
them to despair.”‘
10.  “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you,  11.  and say to them, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury.  12.  Thus I will do to this place,” says the LORD, “and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet.  13.  And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods.””‘
14.  Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people,  15.  “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.”‘

A study of the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom is an interesting one, and one that many believers have neglected, often to their own confusion.  However, I think you are stretching some points here.

As I have already pointed out in the message on “Jeremiah’s Pieces of Silver,” it is said in Matthew 27:9 that this prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah, not written.  You will not find it written anywhere in his book.  To suggest that the reference is to Jeremiah but the quote is from Zechariah makes no sense at all.  And the passages you have listed above have nothing to do either with buying a potter’s field, or with thirty pieces of silver.  To connect a “potter’s earthen flask,” the Potsherd Gate, and the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and put them all together to get a potter’s field purchased for thirty pieces of silver, is a concoction that is by no means justifiable.

It may well be that broken pottery was thrown in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.  It had long been used by the dwellers at Jerusalem, being a beautiful valley close to the city, as a convenient place to offer sacrifices to idols.  However, in the days of King Josiah, he defiled the Valley, so that sacrifices could no longer be made there.  (II Kings 23:10)  Even when they gave up worshipping the true God, the clean and unclean laws had become engrained into the Hebrew culture, and so when Josiah defiled the valley, it was ruined for any purpose but unclean ones from that time forward.  Now, being a practical people, since they couldn’t use the valley to worship, but it was still convenient to Jerusalem, the valley evolved into Jerusalem’s garbage dump, and its convenience to the city served that purpose.  Since it was now the place to dispose of all uncleanness and garbage, of course the ruined and unclean pottery was disposed of there as well.  However, I don’t believe that this made the Valley the same thing as the “Potter’s Field,” any more than it made it the “Weaver’s Field” because unclean or defiled clothing would be thrown there, or the “Sacrificer’s Field” because the unclean parts of sacrifices were left there, or anything else.  It was just an unclean garbage dump.  It was no more a “potter’s” than anything else.

Now the use of the Valley as a garbage dump may easily have started in the days of Jeremiah.  King Josiah’s reign was during Jeremiah’s early ministry as a prophet, so the Valley would have been defiled at that time.  It is likely that the Valley had been owned by a Son of Hinnom for generations.  Perhaps the family profited greatly by its use for idolatrous worship.  Yet once it was defiled, it could well be that this family sold it off.  Yet there is no indication that this family were potters, or that they sold the Valley or any part of the Valley to Jeremiah.  It is a stretch, and nothing but speculation, to make these things connect.

Now consider Matthew 27:3-10.

3.  Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,  4.  saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
5.  Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6.  But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.”  7.  And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.  8.  Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
9.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced,  10.  and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”

Please note that, whether or not the Valley was made into a garbage dump in the days of Jeremiah, by the time of Christ, the use of the Valley of the Son of Hinnom as a defiled refuse site was well-established.  Having turned to the Lord and away from idols altogether, the people of Israel took great pleasure in defiling as completely as they could the famous Valley where once the worst of their idolatry had taken place.  Now, your explanation is that the chief priests bought a field in the Valley of Hinnom, and that is the field referred to.  “Basically the 30 pieces purchased the field, but also purchased the curse on that land.”  Yet the Valley was not just sitting around unused.  It was the refuse dump for the city of Jerusalem.  It was full of garbage, and defiled.  Whoever owned it at this time had already designated it for this use.  Moreover, this was the only use it could be put to, since it was defiled beyond hope of cleansing.  Why, then, would the chief priests need to purchase a field there to use for unclean purposes?  The whole Valley was already unclean, and designated for uncleanness by the current owner.

Also, notice that the purpose for which they bought the field was “to bury strangers in.”  A cemetery was automatically unclean, since dead bodies were unclean, and so buying a field with unclean money would not affect a cemetery.  That is why they chose to use the money for that purpose.  Why there was a need for a place for strangers to be buried in in particular is debatable.  It is probably true that Israelites did not wish to be buried next to foreigners, and so separate cemeteries were necessary.  Thus, the priests had the responsibility to see to it that a cemetery for foreigners was available.  Perhaps at this time their current cemetery for burying foreigners in was full, and so the need to purchase a new plot of ground for this purpose arose.  This “blood money” came along at just the right time for this use.

Yet, as you say, the Valley of the Son of Hinnom was now considered accursed.  Those who were buried there, or rather who were thrown there without burial, were considered the worst of sinners.  They were thrown there as a sign that they were considered to be cursed, and to be unworthy of burial.  Although Israelites did not think much of many of the foreigners living in their land, especially the Romans, their law commanded them to respect foreigners, since they themselves had been foreigners in Egypt.  It seems highly unlikely to me that the policy of the chief priests was to bury every foreigner in a cursed plot of ground, or to throw them in Hinnom like criminals.  I highly doubt that the land they bought was in the Valley of Hinnom.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Now, Judas.  Let us consider Acts 1:15-20, where the disciples consider what to do about Judas.

15.  And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,  16.  “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;  17.  for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18.  (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.  19.  And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20.”For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.'”

Notice in verse 18 that it says that Judas “purchased a field with the wages of iniquity.”  Many assume that this is a reference to the thirty pieces of silver.  Yet Judas did not use that money to purchase a field.  He threw it into the temple.  The chief priests were the ones who bought the field with it.  To say that they bought it “in Judas’ name” and that was the same as Judas purchasing it is a big stretch.  And notice that verse 20 quotes the Old Testament as saying, “Let his DWELLING be desolate.”  (emphasis added)  How could a field purchased with Judas’ blood money in the Valley of Hinnom, even if he was thrown there by the chief priests after he hanged himself, be called “his dwelling place”?  And why would Judas be thrown in a field that was going to be used to bury foreigners in, since Judas was as much an Israelite as anyone else?  Moreover, notice what is said in the prayer of Acts 1:24-25.

24.  And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen  25.  to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”

Again, the field is called Judas’ “own place.”  How could this be, if it was just a field the chief priests bought to throw him in?  Also, there is no reference to him being “thrown” anywhere.  What is said in verse 18 is that “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.”  It says he FELL, not that he was thrown at all.

Judas’ “own place,” the field purchased with “the wages of iniquity,” and “his dwelling place,” are all the same place, and this place has nothing to do with the thirty pieces of silver that the chief priests paid Judas to betray the Lord.  Consider John 12:6, where we learn of Judas embezzling funds from the Lord and the rest of the disciples.

6.  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

Judas was using his position as treasurer for the disciples to embezzle from the funds used to support the Lord and His ministry.  I believe that these passages indicate that he was using this money to secretly purchase land.  Land was money in those days, much as it is today, and Judas was probably figuring that, when the Lord and His ministry broke up, as he was certain it would do since he didn’t really believe in Christ, he would have this land to fall back on, and to give him sufficient wealth to live out the remainder of his days in ease.  None of the disciples would have known of this land, of course, since he was buying it with illicit funds, the “wages of iniquity.”  It may be that Judas had purchased all the land he thought he needed, and that was part of what prompted him to try to speed up the end of the Lord’s ministry by betraying him.  Thus, he fell by transgression from his ministry and apostleship, “that he might go to his own place” as Acts 1:25 says.

I believe that after throwing the silver back in the temple, as we read in Matthew, Judas did not stay in the city and hang himself.  Rather, he ran away to hide in the field that he had so carefully and secretly purchased.  However, being unable to deal with his guilty conscience regarding his betrayal of innocent blood, he found that his ill-gotten land no longer held any joy for him.  Finally, in his torment, he hung himself on the very plot of ground he thought would be his greatest achievement.  Yet remember that no one knew that Judas had been purchasing this field.  When he disappeared, men must have suspected he had done away with himself, yet no one knew where to look.  The result was that Judas remained so long hanging on the rope that his body “became swollen” (not “fell headlong.”)  His decomposing flesh burst open, and his bowels spilled out, as is described.  This caused the land Judas purchased to become a defiled piece of ground.  It was not defiled because it was in the Valley of Hinnom…Judas would not have purchased his nest egg there!  ANY land on which blood was spilt became defiled, an “Akel Dama,” a field of blood.  That was just the result of the clean and unclean laws in Israel.

There is no sense in mixing up the field that the chief priests purchased with Judas’ returned blood money, and the field Judas purchased with his embezzled funds.  Both fields became defiled, yet they were not the same place at all.  Attempts to reconcile them into the same field, no matter how ingenious or outlandish, will not change the fact that the field Judas purchased and the field the chief priests purchased could not have been the same field.  Just because they both had to do with Judas, and both were defiled, does not make them the same field.  The explanation I have given fits with the facts, and it fits with the truth.  Neither field has anything to do with the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.

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