How Did Judas Die?
How did Judas die? Who bought the field? Is it Jeremiah or Zechariah, who prophesied about the potter’s field?
Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation where someone asks you to get a piece of paper from their desk, and you actually went and found that there was no paper on the desk, but you found a piece of paper on the floor and the window was open, would you think that this person lied to you? Or would you conclude that the paper may have fallen from the desk to the floor due to the air current from the open window?
This is exactly the answer to those who say that there is a contradiction in the Bible regarding the death of Judas. The Gospel of Matthew says that he “went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5), while Luke the evangelist in the book of Acts says that “he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out” (Acts 1:18). Which of them is telling the truth? If we examine the text closely, we will understand that he hanged himself, then fell on the ground, which led to his body bursting open, and his intestines spilling out. So it is an arrangement of events and not a contradiction, as the skeptics claim.
As for the purchase of the field, we find the Gospel of Matthew saying that the chief priests consulted and bought the potter’s field with the silver that Judas threw in the temple, and being the price of blood, the priests decided that it cannot enter the treasury. On the other hand, the book of Acts says that Judas acquired the field. Who among them says the truth?
To respond to this suspicion of contradiction, we must return to two points:
The first point is the original language in which the text was written, because going back to the original language tells us what the writer intended from the text. In the book of Acts, Luke the Evangelist says that Judas (acquired) a field… The word to acquire here in the original language is written ἐκτήσατο (aktisato) which is a verb in the ancient Greek language meaning that a person gained or acquired something through another person, i.e. a third party. Judas here was a third party in the acquisition process, as it was acquired through the chief priests.Luke did not go into the details, but directly mentioned the end result, and he said that Judas fell on his face (as a result of the decomposition of the hanged body or the breaking of the rope with which he hanged himself) and he mentioned that he acquired the field (as a result of the high priests buying the field with the money of Judas himself, as Matthew said in his gospel).
The second point is the way Matthew wrote his gospel. We find that Matthew always links events with the prophecies of the old Testament, so he mentions the details that can be linked in the minds of the Jews with their scriptures to prove to them that these events were foretold by the prophets, so we find him mentioning the name of the field (the potter’s field, while Luke did not mention the name of the field in the book of Acts) and connects it directly to a prophecy from the Old Testament and says that the chief priests took the silver and bought the field.
We come to the last issue, which is who is the prophet who prophesied the potter’s field? This prophecy is partially mentioned in the book of Zechariah, and partially in the book of Jeremiah. Did he make a mistake when he cited the prophet Jeremiah instead of the prophet Zechariah?
Simply and without going into details, the Jews used to divide scriptures of the Old Testament into three parts: the law – the psalms – the prophets. The Jews called the part of the prophets Jeremiah (because at that time it was the first book in the group). Therefore, as we are accustomed to with Matthew when he talks to the Jews, he mentions what they know (what was said by Jeremiah as the overall title of the book of the prophets including the book of Zechariah) and he did not mention the division that we know of today (Zechariah).
Likewise, the prophecy mentioned by Matthew is a prophecy consisting of two parts, one of which was mentioned in the book of Zechariah, and the other was already mentioned in the book of Jeremiah, but because this part of the book was called Jeremiah, Matthew did not make the division. A skeptic should go back to history to find out how the Jews arranged the Tanakh (the Hebrew name for the Old Testament).
Judas hanged himself (as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew) and then fell on his face (as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles) and the chief priests bought the field by proxy with Judas’ money (as the Gospel of Matthew mentioned), and thus Judas acquired the field as a third party as the verb “acquire” means in the original language (as mentioned in the book of Acts). The prophecy mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew is a prophecy that consists of two parts, one of which is mentioned in the Book of Zechariah and the other in the Book of Jeremiah, but the Jews used to call all the writings of the prophets Jeremiah.