The Field of Blood (Mt 27:6-27:8)

“But the chief priests,

Taking the pieces of silver,

Said.

‘It is not lawful

To put them

Into the treasury,

Since these pieces

Are blood money.’

After conferring together,

They used

These silver pieces

To buy the potter’s field,

As a place

To bury foreigners.

Thus,

That field

Has been called

The Field of Blood

To this day.”

 

οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς λαβόντες τὰ ἀργύρια εἶπαν Οὐκ ἔξεστιν βαλεῖν αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν κορβανᾶν, ἐπεὶ τιμὴ αἵματός ἐστιν.

συμβούλιον δὲ λαβόντες ἠγόρασαν ἐξ αὐτῶν τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμέως εἰς ταφὴν τοῖς ξένοις.

διὸ ἐκλήθη ὁ ἀγρὸς ἐκεῖνος Ἀγρὸς αἵματος ἕως τῆς σήμερον.

 

This is unique to Matthew among the gospel writers, although in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:16-20, Peter talked about the death of Judas and the Field of Blood. The chief priests, however, took the 30 pieces of silver (οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς λαβόντες τὰ ἀργύρια).  They said that it was not lawful to put this money into the Temple treasury (εἶπαν Οὐκ ἔξεστιν βαλεῖν αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν κορβανᾶν), since it was blood money (ἐπεὶ τιμὴ αἵματός ἐστιν).  After conferring together or taking counsel among themselves (συμβούλιον δὲ λαβόντες), they used this money to buy the potter’s field (ἐξ αὐτῶν τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμέως), as a place to bury foreigners or strangers (εἰς ταφὴν τοῖς ξένοις).  Thus, this field has been called the Field of Blood (διὸ ἐκλήθη ὁ ἀγρὸς ἐκεῖνος Ἀγρὸς αἵματος) to this day (ἕως τῆς σήμερον).  Apparently, the clay that was used for pottery was useless for growing anything.  Thus, it was called potter’s field.  This field became a graveyard for foreigners, strangers, and commoners who had no money for a proper burial.  It was the poor man’s burial area.  This returned blood money could not be used for any Temple activities or holy purposes.  Thus, a cemetery for the indigent seemed like a good comprise.  Notice that Matthew said that it was called a “Field of Blood” even until the time of his writing, this day, indicating an interval between this incident and the writing about it

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The siege of Nineveh (Nah 3:12-3:14)

“You also will be drunken.

You will go into hiding.

You will seek

A refuge

From the enemy.

All your fortresses are

Like fig trees

With first-ripe figs.

If shaken,

They fall

Into the mouth

Of the eater.

Look at your troops!

They are women

In your midst.

The gates

Of your land

Are wide open

To your foes.

Fire has devoured

The bars of your gates.

Draw water

For the siege!

Strengthen your forts!

Trample the clay!

Tread the mortar!

Take hold

Of the brick mold!”

So too, the people of Nineveh would be drunk and go into hiding, as they would seek to get away from their enemies.  All their strong fortresses would be like ripe fig trees.  If they would be touched or shaken, these strongholds would fall like ripe fruit right into the mouths of their enemies.  Women had become their troops.  The gates of the city were wide open to their enemies because fire had consumed the bars on their gates.  They had to get water during the siege.  They would have to strengthen their fortresses with clay, mortar, and bricks.

Bel eats and drinks (Dan 14:6-14:7)

“The king said to Daniel.

‘Do you not think

That Bel

Is a living God?

Do you not see

How much he eats,

How much he drinks,

Every day?’

Then Daniel laughed.

He said.

‘Do not be deceived!

O king!

This thing is

Only clay inside,

With bronze,

On the outside.

It never ate

Or drank anything.’”

King Cyrus got into a conversation with Daniel about Bel and his living God. The king maintained that Bel was also a living god, since he was able to eat and drink every day. Then Daniel laughed at him. He told the king not to be deceived. Bel was only made of clay and bronze, so that it was not capable of eating or drinking.

The divided mixed kingdom (Dan 2:41-2:43)

“As you saw

The feet

With the toes,

Partly of potter’s clay,

Partly of iron,

It shall be a divided kingdom.

Some of the strength

Of iron

Shall be in it,

Just as you saw

The iron mixed

With the clay.

As the toes

Of the feet were

Partly iron,

Partly clay,

Thus,

The kingdom shall be

Partly strong,

Partly brittle.

As you saw the iron

Mixed with clay,

Thus,

They will mix

With one another

In marriage.

But they will not

Hold together,

Just as iron

Does not mix

With clay.”

This appears to be a veiled reference to the future Greek iron kingdom with its problems between the different ruling parties of the Seleucids (312-63 BCE) and the Ptolemies (305-30 BCE). They each inherited parts of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). They tried to join together through marriage, but that failed. Daniel here used the example of the feet made of iron and clay, the strength of the iron mixed with the weak clay. However, as the toes and feet became weak, so too this kingdom would be partly strong and partly brittle. Even a marriage could not hold it together, because iron and clay simply do not mix.

A description of the statue in the kings ‘s dream (Dan 2:32-2:33)

“The head

Of that statue

Was of fine gold.

Its breast,

With its arms,

Were of silver.

It middle,

With its thighs,

Were of bronze.

Its legs

Were of iron.

Its feet

Were partly of iron,

Partly of clay.”

Next, Daniel described this great big brilliant scary statue in the king’s dream. The head was made of fine gold, while its arms and breast were made of silver. His middle and thighs were bronze, while his legs were made of iron. However, his feet were part iron and part clay. This was an imposing figure made up of various different metals.

The power of Yahweh is like a potter (Jer 18:7-18:10)

“At any moment,

I may declare

Concerning a nation

Or a kingdom,

That I will pluck it up.

I will break it down.

I will destroy it.

But if that nation,

Concerning which I have spoken,

Turns from its evil,

I will change my mind

About the disaster

That I intended to bring on it.

At another moment,

I may declare

Concerning a nation

Or a kingdom

That I will build it up.

I will plant it.

But if it does evil in my sight,

Not listening to my voice,

Then I will change my mind

About the good

That I had intended to do to it.”

Yahweh proclaimed, via Jeremiah, that at any time he could pluck up, break down, and destroy any nation or kingdom that he wanted to, since he was like the clay potter. All the countries in the world were like clay in his hands. If a country changed from its evil ways, he could change his mind about their impending disaster. Yahweh could also do the same for any nation or kingdom that he was trying to build up or plant. If they did evil in his sight by not listening to him, then Yahweh could change his mind about the good that he had intended to do for them. Thus Yahweh was like a potter who could destroy or mold as he saw fit the various countries and their people.

The potter and Israel (Jer 18:5-18:6)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘O house of Israel!

Can I not do with you

Just as this potter has done?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Just like the clay

In the potter’s hand,

So are you

In my hand.

O house of Israel!’”

As Jeremiah was at the potter’s house, the word of Yahweh came to him. Yahweh said that he could do to the house of Israel as the potter had done, since Israel was just like clay in his hand, similar to the clay in the potter’s hand.