We did a two-for-one deal in our previous episode: the “no bones broken” and the “piercing” claims.
Guess what we found? If you’ve been faithfully following along you’ll already know the answer; it’s the same one we always come up with in examining the claims of the Watchtower and Christianity in general: false claims.
In this episode we’re going to take a look at the fifth and final claim from the NWT intro on “prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.” And we’ll even throw in a bonus one that they missed!
“They paid my wages, 30 pieces of silver.”
— Zechariah 11:12, 13
“Then one of the Twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said: ‘What will you give me to betray him to you?’ They stipulated to him 30 silver pieces.”
–Matthew 26:14, 15; 27:5
It’s interesting that the Watchtower chose to use these particular verses as the “fulfillment” when the writer of Matthew actually mentions the fulfillment a few verses further on:
Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the 30 silver pieces, the price that was set on the man, the one on whom a price was set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, according to what Jehovah had commanded me.”
Why did the Watchtower avoid the above verses? Perhaps because there is no quote remotely like this in Jeremiah. The only mention of silver pieces in Jeremiah is when he purchased some land for “seven shekels and ten silver pieces.” (Jer. 32:9) So, did the writer of Matthew make another mistake? Okay, big deal, you say: He meant Zechariah. But hold on: Zechariah says something quite different than the quote the writer of Matthew gives. Here’s the full quote from Zechariah (I have bolded the verses that the NWT cross-references us to):
“This is what Jehovah my God says, ‘Shepherd the flock meant for the slaughter, whose buyers slaughtered them and are not held guilty. And those who sell them say, “May Jehovah be praised, for I will become rich.” And their shepherds have no compassion for them.
“‘For I will no longer show compassion on the inhabitants of the land,’ declares Jehovah. ‘So I will cause each man to fall into the hand of his neighbor and his king; and they will crush the land, and I will not rescue them out of their hand.’”
And I began to shepherd the flock meant for slaughter, in your behalf, O afflicted ones of the flock. So I took two staffs, and I called one Pleasantness, and the other Union, and I began to shepherd the flock.
And I dismissed three shepherds in one month, for I became impatient with them, and they detested me as well. And I said: “I will not keep shepherding you. Let the one who is dying die, and let the one perishing perish. As for those who are left, let them devour one another’s flesh.”
So I took my staff Pleasantness and cut it up, breaking my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was broken in that day, and the afflicted ones of the flock who were watching me knew that it was the word of Jehovah.
Then I said to them: “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, withhold them.” And they paid my wages, 30 pieces of silver. Then Jehovah said to me: “Throw it into the treasury—the magnificent value with which they valued me.” So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw it into the treasury at the house of Jehovah.
Then I cut up my second staff, the Union, breaking the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. And Jehovah said to me: “Now take the equipment of a useless shepherd. For I am letting a shepherd rise up in the land. He will not take care of the sheep that are perishing; he will not seek out the young or heal the injured or feed those able to stand. Instead, he devours the flesh of the fat one and tears and tears off the hooves of the sheep. Woe to my worthless shepherd, who is abandoning the flock!
A sword will strike his arm and his right eye. His arm will wither completely, And his right eye will go completely blind.”
— Zechariah 11:4-17
Notice that Zechariah doesn’t say anything about “the price set on a man” or a “potter’s field” as the writer of Matthew claims.
Zechariah had been paid a certain wage for having acted as a shepherd. However, as we just read, he was a horribly bad shepherd (firing the other shepherds, and then letting the sheep die while he was off playing with his Pleasantness rod). The man seriously needed to find other work. That’s why they paid him an insulting amount (the price of a slave: Ex. 21:32 –which may explain the reference to “the price set on a man” in Matthew) and sent him packing.
But, to be fair to Zech, he was only “following orders” and emulating Jehovah: a “god of love” who declared that he would not be compassionate(!), and who prophesied the coming of a worthless shepherd who would abandon the flock and then suffer serious injuries to his arm and eye from a sword. Does this sound like a prophecy about “the Good Shepherd” Jesus? Was Jesus ever struck in the arm and the eye with a sword, rendering him blind in his right eye? Not according to the Bible.
Anyway, it seems that the wages Zechariah was paid match to the silver-piece the sum Judas was paid for pointing out Jesus to the priests’ men. [Right: because the priests had no idea who Jesus was, after having debated with him and having suffered his face-to-face insults for years! They really needed Judas to point him out to their band of ruffians. Uh-huh.]
Based on what we see in Zechariah, thirty pieces of silver was considered an insulting sum since it was connected with the price of a slave (can’t you just hear the sarcasm in the phrase “the magnificent value with which they valued me”?) Because of that, it may also have been the going rate for any kind of dirty-work. Other than that, there is no connection between the price paid to Judas and anything written in Zechariah or Jeremiah. Jeremiah never said anything about thirty pieces of silver. What Zechariah said about 30 pieces of silver was not a messianic prophesy, but just happened to be the amount he was paid for being the world’s worst shepherd.
A Bonus “Prophecy”
And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.”
— Mt. 12:15-19 (NKJV)
Here, the writer of Matthew tells us that by Jesus asking a multitude of people not to make himself known, he fulfilled another prophecy of Isaiah’s (Isaiah 42:1-2). The “prophecy” consisted of five things:
- Having god’s spirit.
- Declaring justice to the gentiles.
- Not quarreling.
- Not crying out.
- Not having anyone hear his voice in the streets.
Did Jesus fulfill each of those five items? Number one (having god’s spirit) would be hard to prove either way. According to Watchtower doctrine, every living person has god’s spirit enlivening them, so that would not be something unique to the Messiah. Yes, the Bible records Jesus doing “great signs and wonders,” but he reputedly discounted that when he said: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” (Mt. 24:24 NWT)
Number two on the list: Declaring justice to the gentiles. The Bible claims that Jesus stated point-blank that he had nothing to do with gentiles: “I was not sent to anyone except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt. 15:24) And he explicitly prohibited his followers from preaching to gentiles: “These 12 Jesus sent out, giving them these instructions: ‘Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter any Samaritan city; but instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'” (Mt. 10:5-6) He even disparaged gentiles as “dogs” to their face! (Mt 15:22-26) Jesus did not “declare justice” to the gentiles; he displayed prejudice towards them.
Number three on the list: Not quarreling. The Bible records Jesus quarreling with the Scribes and Pharisees, even to the point of name-calling, and casting aspersions on their lineage by calling them offspring of snakes! (Mt 23) He also quarreled with the money-changers in the temple to the point of committing vandalism and physical violence: “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2:15)
Number four: Not crying out. “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” (Mt 27:46)
And finally, number five: Not having anyone hear his voice in the streets. The Bible tells us that Jesus preached in cities and towns (Mt 11:1). Most cities have streets, and though we can’t say with absolute certainty, it’s quite probable that if what the Bible relates about Jesus is true, then his voice was indeed heard in the streets. For the “multitudes” to hear him, he no doubt had to raise his voice, and people in the streets of the cities he supposedly preached in would’ve heard him.
If the verses in Isaiah (as interpreted by the writer of Matthew) were meant to convey that the Messiah would preach in secret and keep a low profile rather than declaring his message publicly, then this can hardly apply to Jesus in light of his Sermon on the Mount given in front of “multitudes” (Mt 5:1) and his grand entrance into the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey’s/colt’s back as a “great multitude” of people hailed his arrival, lining his route with their clothes and palm branches. (Mk 11:7-10)
So, it seems that for at least four out of five of the items in this “prophecy” Jesus not only failed to fulfill them, he did the exact opposite of what they prophesied! Isaiah said, in effect: ‘The Messiah will not do any of these four things.’ But the Bible relates Jesus doing those four things. Therefore, the prophecy cannot honestly be said to have been fulfilled by Jesus.
In the end, we have found no significant prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.
Please also see this external link, which totally nails it: Did Jesus Fulfill Prophecy?