Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve original disciples of Jesus, and the one who is said to have betrayed him. Judas is mentioned in the synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John and at the beginning of Acts of the Apostles. The name Judas (Ioudas) is the Greek form of Judah, a proper name frequently found in both the Old and the New Testament. To distinguish him from Judas, the son of James (Luke 6:16), this Judas is usually associated with the surname Iscariot, which is likely Hebrew meaning "a man of Kerioth," a city of Judah.

According to the account given in the Gospels, he carried the disciples' money box and betrayed Jesus for a bribe of "thirty pieces of silver" by identifying him with a kiss to arresting soldiers of the High Priest Caiphas, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate's soldiers.

There are two different NT references to the end of Judas' life:

  • The Gospel of Matthew (27:3-10) says that, after Jesus' arrest by the Roman authorities (but before his execution), the guilt-ridden Judas returned the bribe to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself. The priests could not return the money to the treasury so they used it to buy a plot of ground in order to bury strangers.

  • The Acts of the Apostles (1:18) says that Judas used the bribe (or Judas' returned bribe was used) to buy a field, into which he fell headlong, burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This field is called Akeldama or Field Of Blood. Acts 1 goes on to describe how his place among the apostles was subsequently filled by Matthias.

There have been several attempts through history to rectify the apparent discrepancy between the two accounts, and some depictions in art portray Judas hanging himself, but with his stomach exploding as he does so.

See also