Judas Iscariot, The Apostle

Judas Iscariot (Hebrew: Yehuda), according to the New Testament, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver. He was the first of the apostles to die.

In the Greek New Testament, Judas is called. “Judas” (spelled “Ioudas” in ancient Greek and “Iudas” in Latin, pronounced yudas in both) is the Greek form of the common name Judah, Hebrew for “God is praised”). The Greek spelling underlies other names in the New Testament that are traditionally rendered differently in English: Judah and Jude.

The significance of “Iscariot” is uncertain. There are several major theories on etymology:

judas iscariot 3

One popular explanation derives Iscariot from a Hebrew meaning “man of Kerioth”. The Gospel of John refers to Judas as “son of Simon Iscariot” (although the biblical text only refers to him as “the son of Simon”. Some speculate that Kerioth refers to a region in Judea, but it is also the name of two known Judean towns.

A second theory is that “Iscariot” identifies Judas as a member of the sicarii. These were a cadre of assassins among Jewish rebels intent on driving the Romans out of Judea. However, some historians maintain the sicarii arose in the 40s or 50s of the 1st century, in which case Judas could not have been a member.

Judas is mentioned in the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John and at the beginning of Acts of the Apostles.

Mark states that the chief priests were looking for a sly way to arrest Jesus. They decided not to do so during the feast since they were afraid that people would riot; instead, they chose the night before the feast to arrest him. In the Gospel of Luke, Satan enters Judas at this time.

According to the account in the Gospel of John, Judas carried the disciples’ money bag. He betrayed Jesus for a bribe of “thirty pieces of silver” by identifying him with a kiss — “the kiss of Judas” — to arresting soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate’s soldiers.

There are a few descriptions of the death of Judas, two of which are included in the modern Biblical canon:

Matthew 27:3-10 says that Judas returned the money to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself. They used it to buy the potter’s field. The Gospel account presents this as a fulfillment of prophecy

The Acts of the Apostles says that Judas used the money to buy a field, but fell headfirst, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. This field is called Akeldama or Field of Blood.

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