Friday, March 21, 2008

Silver Sheckels, Oxen, Servants and the Saviour

Then one of the twelve,
who was called Judas Iscariot,
went unto the chief priests,
and said,
What are ye willing to give me,
and I will deliver him unto you? And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.
Matthew 26:14-16 RV
What was Jesus worth to the chief priests?
How much did they want Jesus out of the way?
How much did they want to make an example of Jesus?

We only find out the amount through Matthew: 30 pieces of silver.
Like the donkey in Jesus' entry, the amount comes from the OT:

If the ox gore a manservant or a maidservant;
he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver,
and the ox shall be stoned.
Exodus 21:32 RV

The amount is not significant in itself, maybe like "40 days."
But the circumstances in which the figure arises are interesting.

The owner is fired if his ox kills someone.
If the ox has killed before, and the owner is aware of that, he will be executed.
If his ox kills someones daughter, his own daughter will be killed. (likewise for any family member)
If the ox kills someones servant, the ox's owner must pay the master 30 silver pieces.
The ox is killed in any of these scenarios.

I feel that comparing the two readings, one where Jesus is sold, the other an outline for reparation, a great reversal is occuring.
In typical Christian fashion, the meaning is difficult to grasp at first.

Instead of punishment, we have ill gained profit.
Instead of an owner we have a disciple.
Instead of a master, we have the leader of the opposition.

The same amount also appears elsewhere:

And I said vnto them,
If yee thinke good,
giue me my price:
and if not,
so they weighed for my price thirtie pieces of siluer.
Zechariah 11:12 KJV-1611
These two references (other the event in question) are the only times 30 silver pieces are used: one a law, the other a prophecy.

One can only think that the chief priests (and/or Matthew) were alluding to something more than a monetary amount.

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