Judas is often called Judas Iscariot, but what does Iscariot mean? Some read Iscariot to mean “man of Kerioth,” a small town a few miles south of Hebron. This would make Judas the only Judean in the group and an outsider. Others argue that a copyist error transposed two letters and that Judas was named “Sicariot,” a member of the party of the Sicarii. This comes from the Greek word for “assassins” and was a group of fanatical nationalists who thought that the only good Roman was a dead Roman. Judas Iscariot could have been, then, Judas the Terrorist.
He is the apostle who betrayed Jesus and helps the Jerusalem authorities arrest him. Judas may have enjoyed a privileged position among Jesus’ apostles — John describes him as the band’s treasurer and he is often present at important times. John also describes him as a thief, but it seems implausible that a thief would have joined such a group or that Jesus would have made a thief their treasurer.
Some text say that Judas had been a subconscious critic of Jesus ever since John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod. Deep down in his heart Judas always resented the fact that Jesus did not save John - Judas had been a disciple of John before he became a follower of Jesus.
Famous for betrayal, Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver for leading Roman soldiers to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is hardly an action worthy of payment because Jesus wasn’t exactly in hiding. In John, he doesn’t even do that much. Judas doesn’t actually do anything except fulfill the narrative and eschatological need for the Messiah to be betrayed by someone.
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 fulfilment of prophecy. This story is not repeated in the other gospels.
- 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.
The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
Left to Right :
James the Lesser,
|Peter (Simon Peter),
Judas Iscariot (holding a bag and with elbow on table),
John / Mary
James the Greater,