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It seems that, after the treachery of Judas Iscariot in betraying Jesus, the name Judas became unpopular among Christians. Those who already had the name Judas often preferred some other name.

For example, Jesus’ group of twelve apostles included a second man named Judas, but when writers mention him they point out that he was the son of a man named James, and not Judas Iscariot. To avoid confusion, this apostle apparently took another name, Thaddaeus (or Lebbaeus) (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:16; John 14:22; see THADDAEUS). One of Jesus’ brothers was named Judas, but on becoming a believer he was known by the shorter name, Jude (Matthew 13:55; see JUDE). A prophet named Judas in the Jerusalem church took another name, Barsabbas (Acts 15:22; Acts 15:27). (Concerning Judas the Galilean mentioned in Acts 5:37 see ZEALOT.)

Judas Iscariot

Judas the betrayer was commonly known as Iscariot (meaning ‘man of Kerioth’), after the home town of his father, Simon (Matthew 10:4; John 6:71). As treasurer for the group of twelve apostles, Judas had responsibility for funds donated for the poor. It later became evident that he had been stealing some of the money for himself (John 12:5-6; John 13:29).

Jesus had seen the evil in Judas’ heart long before those final acts of treachery that resulted in Jesus’ crucifixion (John 6:70-71; John 17:12). Judas’ criticism of Mary’s anointing of Jesus showed his lack of spiritual insight (John 12:3-8). The other disciples still did not suspect him of disloyalty, even when Jesus told them a betrayer was among them (Matthew 26:20-25; John 13:2; John 13:21-30).

The Jewish leaders had been wondering how to arrest Jesus without creating a riot (Luke 22:1-2), but the defection of one of Jesus’ apostles made their task easier. Judas demanded payment for his part in the plot, and the Jewish leaders agreed (Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:3-6). The vital information that Judas gave the Jews concerned the secret place where Jesus prayed with his disciples. In the middle of the night, when the people of Jerusalem were asleep, Judas led an armed group of temple guards and Roman soldiers to the place. His final act of treachery was to identify the one to be arrested by kissing him (Matthew 26:47-56; John 18:2-12).

Judas gained no satisfaction from his evil work. He knew he had done wrong in helping to crucify an innocent man, but he made no effort to correct the wrong. Instead he committed suicide; though first he tried to ease his conscience by returning the money that the priests had given him (Matthew 27:3-5).

It seems that Judas went into a field and tried to hang himself, but in doing so he injured himself internally and his stomach burst. When his body was found, the priests took the betrayal money Judas had returned and with it bought the field in his name. Originally known as Potter’s Field, the place was renamed Field of Blood and used as a cemetery for Gentiles (Matthew 27:6-10; Acts 1:18-19).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Judas'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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