Would you send your best friend to be killed in exchange for $200? According to the Greek bible, that’s just what Judas Iscariot did. But karma always comes back to bite you in the ass, and Judas Iscariot was no exception.
How did Judas Iscariot die? Scholars’ opinions vary depending upon the translation. Here’s what the Greek bible says about the death of Judas.
What’s Judas Iscariot’s Story?
You’re probably already familiar with the bible stories of Jesus and his death. After all, there’s a whole religion with hundreds of sects and denominations built around the tale.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter, Joseph. According to tradition, he had quite humble beginnings: he was born in a barn, he slept in a manger, and his mom was famous for being pregnant without ever having had sex. All in all, it was a rough ride for Jesus during the first few months of his life.
He developed quite a following, though. Over the course of his approximately 33 years on earth, he had quite a lot to say. According to the Greek bible (and to some history books as well), he taught mostly of peace and love. He was human, however, and had the occasional temper tantrum. Remember that time he went off on a bunch of moneychangers?
Anyway, there were quite a few people who listened to the teachings of Jesus. He claimed that he was the son of God, and many believed this to be true. There were 12 men who were particularly devoted to the preacher, and they were called the twelve disciples.
Of these, Judas was one. Judas was just like any of the other disciples in the bible story in that he was given “special powers”. The disciples could exorcise demons and even had the ability to heal people.
Obviously, there were people at the time who didn’t care much for this. Political figures and members of the public set out to kill Jesus. The one problem was that they had a bit of trouble identifying him. And that’s how Judas Iscariot became famous.
Events Leading to Judas Iscariot’s Death
Jesus was a tough guy to catch. The political figures of the time tried to be as political about it as possible. They’d cited him as having broken many laws, and he was arrested, tried and eventually crucified as was common for the time. However, they were still having trouble finding him.
As we mentioned, Jesus and his disciples were very close. Immediately prior to his death, Jesus and his friends had a supper, which is now famously known as “The Last Supper.” During that dinner, Jesus was nervous about his impending arrest. He predicted that one of his disciples would betray him, and later identified Judas as that person.
Judas, of course, denied that he would do such a thing. However, sure enough, Judas soon identified Jesus by kissing him. In exchange, he was given 30 pieces of silver, worth around $200 today. Arresting soldiers of the High Priest Calaphas then took Jesus into custody, and the rest is biblical history.
So what does that have to do with how Judas Iscariot died? Well, there are several theories as to why Judas died, and there are several interpretations as to how he died.
There are quite a few translations of the Greek bible, and there are also many different theologies which surround it. Each translation and interpretation carries a slightly different account of the death of Judas Iscariot.
How Did Judas Iscariot Die?
So, in the end, how did Judas Iscariot die? By most accounts, Judas hanged himself. However, the definition of “hanged” is left to interpretation. Here’s how the most graphic bible verse reads:
Acts 1:18 (New International Version)
With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
Here’s how it’s translated in the King James Version:
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
Now, let’s look at other accounts of the death. The book of Matthew is tricky. It was written in Hebrew originally, the language of the “old testament.” Then it was later translated into Greek. There is no indication by the author of the Book of Matthew that he or she was present for the events described therein.
Regardless, Matthew 27:3 reads as follows:
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.
That’s the King James Version. But the New International Version, a likely more accurate translation, states the following:
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.
There’s no mention of Judas Iscariot’s death at all. In short, we can’t be sure how Judas Iscariot died, or if he even did die immediately following his friend’s death. What we can infer, however, is that Judas felt really bad for what he did, and it is, in fact, likely that he killed himself.
How and Why Did Judas Iscariot Kill Himself?
The Greek bible is left open to interpretation. Those who believe the stories therein believe them many different ways – after all, that’s the beauty of religion. That said, though, it’s difficult to know exactly why or how Judas Iscariot died.
Some claim that “hanging” is directly translated to mean “impaling.” Those people believe that Judas threw himself off a cliff and into the Potters’ Field.
Others believe that Judas literally hanged himself. As in, wrapped a rope around his neck and jumped. This, however, doesn’t explain how “he burst asunder in the midst,” unless animals found his remains.
Still others take the verses as only figures of speech. Judas’s headlong fall refers to him falling to his knees in a deep depression, and the bowels pouring out are taken to mean that he cried. Really hard.
So how did Judas Iscariot die? We don’t know. There’s no way to know how in around 33 C.E. Judas Iscariot died. We have only the “prophecies” from the Hebrew bible and the stories from the Greek bible to clue us in.