Nazarene Space

Is there a Contradiction in How Judas Died?

Is there a Contradiction in How Judas Died?
James Scott Trimm

Recently an anti-missionary claimed that there is a contradiction in the Scriptural accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot. On the surface there is an apparent contradiction between Matt. 27:5 and Acts 1:18

And he cast the thirty pieces of silver into the Temple, and hanged himself with a halter.
(Matt. 27:5)

This is he who purchased for himself a field from the reward of sin and fell on his face upon the ground and burst from his middle, and all his bowels poured out.
(Acts 1:18)

To begin with, it is important to note that it was not customary to detach the body of a hanged man down from a tree before burial, as the following passage from the Talmud tells us:

Our Rabbis taught: [Then thou shalt hang him on] a tree: this I might understand as meaning either a cut or a growing tree; therefore Scripture states, Thou shalt surely bury him: [thus, it must be] one that needs only burial, so excluding that which needs both felling and burial. R. Jose said; [It must be] one that needs only burial, thus excluding that which requires both detaching and burial. And the Rabbis? — Detaching is of no consequence.
(b.San. 46b)

This section of Talmud is debating whether an execution by hanging was to be carried out on a “growing tree” or a “cut” tree (gallows).  Certain Rabbis argued that gallows are implied because the Torah refers to burial of the man, but does not mention felling the tree or detaching the man from the tree.  The Rabbis pointed out that “detaching is of no consequence” meaning that it was non necessary to detach the corpse from the “tree” before burial.

In fact, due to purity laws discouraging contact with a corpse, rather than detach the corpse at all, it was the custom to cut the tree down, corpse and all.  Maimonides comments on this custom saying that the tree was cut down and buried with the body:

In order that it should not serve as a sad reminder,
people saying: “This is the tree in which so and so
was hanged.”
(Maimonides, Sanhedrin, XV, 9)

Y’hudah (Judas) hanged himself with a halter (Mt. 27:5).  By the time his body was discovered, his belly was either distended or bloated.  Following the normal custom, the tree in which he hanged himself was cut down, with his body still attached, with intent of burying them both together.  When the tree was cut down he fell on his face upon the ground and burst from his middle, and all his bowels poured out (Acts 1:18).

By better understanding Torah and by better understanding the customs and practices of second Temple Era Judaism, we can better understand the Scriptures.

This ministry has a very unique role in this regard.  I do not believe any other ministry is as equipped as we are to defend the Messiahship of Yeshua and the associated Scriptures, from a Jewish perspective.

You should see the face of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who attempts to discredit the account in the "New Testament" only to be shown ***from the Talmud*** that the "New Testament" got it right after all.

But we need your help if this ministry is going to continue to fulfill this unique role.

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Views: 172

Comment by David Brigham on May 31, 2017 at 4:11pm

What does the Aramaic say? -- can Acts 1:18 mean "he caused to be possessed/purchased" ? cf Matthew 27:5-8, the priests doing the buying after his death, with his money, so in that sense he "acquired" a burial plot for his wages of sins after his death.  


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