Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah,
v.1, Act 2, scene 2 - #24. Judas, the Chief Priest, and the Price of Innocent Blood, pp 636-660

(detailed summary)


Judas, the Chief Priest, and the Price of Innocent Blood
(Mt 27: 3-10)


Summary

We are in front of a unique scene that only Matthew reports, and which he introduces awkwardly, since the chief priests, who have just condemned Jesus and lead him to Pilate, find themselves at the same time in the temple discussing with Judas. Could the evangelist have created this story from scratch? No, because the Acts of the Apostles, a completely independent account, presents a certain number of common elements: Judas' death is at about the same time as that of Jesus, his death was violent, the purchase of land is associated with this death, this land bears the name "of the Blood", and there are references to the fact that the narrative seems ancient.

Thus, Matthew may have had at hand an ancient story that spoke in a general way of the violent death of Judas. But according to his habit of introducing glosses, he amplified this story by adding a number of details from Scripture, such as the thirty pieces of silver, the throwing of them into the sanctuary, the suicide by hanging, the precision that it is a field that was acquired and the reference to the potter. Even if we can guess several of his references to Scripture, we must admit that he makes a fairly free use of it to support his religious vision.

The image of Judas left to us by Matthew is rather harsh. If there is remorse in him, there is no true return to faith. The contrast is striking with Peter who will later be a pillar of faith. Judas remains in the eyes of the evangelist the one who spilled innocent blood, the one who, out of avarice, demands a sum of money from the high priests to hand him over, the one who, at the last supper, defies Jesus with the title of Rabbi, a title that Jesus asked to be refused; in short, he realizes Jesus' sentence: "It would have been better for that man if he had not been born".


  1. Translation
  2. Comment
    1. Judas and the Price of Innocent Blood (27: 3-5)
    2. The Chief Priests and the Price of Innocent Blood (27: 6-8)
    3. The Fulfillment Citation (27: 9-10)
  3. Analysis
    1. Comparison with Other Accounts of Judas' Death
    2. Impact of Scripture on Formation of Matt's Story

  1. Translation

    Matthew 27Acts 1
    3 Then Judas, the one who gave him over, having seen that he [Jesus] was judged against, having changed with remorse, returned the thirty silver pieces to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I sinned in having given over innocent blood”. But they said, “What is that to us? You must see to it”. 5 And having cast the silver pieces into the sanctuary, he departed; and having gone away, he hanged himself.

    6 But having taken the silver pieces, the chief priests said, “It is not permitted to throw these into the treasury since it is the price for blood”. 7 Having taken a decision, they bought with them the potter’s field for a burial ground of strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called “Field of Blood” to this day.

    9 Then there was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet saying, “And they took the thirty silver pieces, the prices of the one priced, whom the sons of Israel priced. 10 And they gave them for the potter’s field, according to what the Lord directed me”.

    (Excerpt from Peter’s speech in Acts 1 :15-26, place between Jesus’ ascension forty days after the resurrection, and before the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost [fifty days after Passover] ; Peter addresses the men of the community whom he calls brothers) :

    16 “It was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David concerning Judas who was the leader of those who took Jesus, 17 because he was numbered among us and was allotted a share of this ministry. (18 Accordingly this man acquired acreage with the wages of his wickedness; and laid prostrate, he burst open in the middle, and all his entrails poured out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with the results that his acreage was called in their language Hakeldamach, that is ’Acreage of Blood’.) 20 It is written in the book of Psalms: ’Let his habitation become a desert, and let there be no dweller in it’ and ’Let another take his superintendency’”.

    (There follows in 1:21-26 the account of the choice of Matthias “to take the place of the service and apostolate from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place [v.25].)

  2. Comment

    Matthew is the only one to interrupt Jesus' return to Pilate with this scene of Judas' death. The main thread of the scene is the sum of the thirty pieces of silver that Judas wants to get rid of in order to take away the responsibility for the innocent blood of Jesus, and which the chief priests in their turn get rid of by buying the potter's field. Matthew's interest is in the innocent blood which he will return to in the Roman trial. The three predictions of Jesus (the denial of Peter, the flight of the disciples, the betrayal of Judas) have now been fulfilled.

    The scene remains a awkward interruption. For while we are talking about the chief priests and elders who lead Jesus to Pilate, we suddenly find them in the middle of the temple, collecting silver coins. It is understandable that Matthew did not mean to say that this scene took place exactly at that time, and that to have moved this scene after the resurrection would have broken the whole atmosphere. By inserting it here, Matthew introduces an interesting contrast between Peter's reaction after his denial and Judas' reaction after his betrayal.

    1. Judas and the Price of Innocent Blood (27: 3-5)

      1. Judas' change of outlook

        Matthew now no longer speaks of Judas as one of the Twelve, but as the one who handed Jesus over. He writes: "having seen that he was judged against"; this "having seen" does not mean that he was in the palace of the high priest, but that he "learned" of his condemnation. Now, how do we interpret his change of outlook?

        Matthew uses the verb metamelesthai, which we have translated as: "having changed with remorse". The verb usually means: to have a different feeling towards, to change one's concern. In the Old Testament it implies a change that is unacceptable to God (Exodus 13:17 where God wants to prevent people from changing their minds and not coming out of Egypt). Usually repentance or conversion in the New Testament is expressed by metanoein. Two other of the four uses of the word are found in Mt 21:29.32 in the parable of the father and his two sons where one changes his mind and decides to obey his father. It is difficult to see this as sincere repentance or a simple awareness of duty. Thus, one may wonder whether there is in Judas a transformation of his heart to the point of believing in Jesus now, or simply a regret of the consequences of his action, consequences he had not foreseen. The latter is unlikely, for he had heard Jesus' predictions and, by going to the high priests, he must have known their decision.

      2. The thirty pieces of silver

        To express Judas' remorse, Matthew tells us that he brought back the thirty pieces of silver (argyrion, plural). This is an echo of Zechariah 11:12-13 (LXX) which has the word argyreos, a contracted form of the same word. The evangelist's term argyrion is not precise. But if we rely on Papyrus 114 (Discoveries in the Judean Desert, 2.240-243), the argyrion of Tyre refers to a sum consisting of staters and denarii. And the Hebrew shekel often refers to the drachma or the greater sum of the stater. Thus, if Matthew was thinking of thirty shekels of silver, this sum represents the cost of serious wounds inflicted on a slave according to Exodus 21:32, and the cost of buying a field according to Jeremiah 32:9. (On money in the Bible, see the Glossary)

      3. "I sinned in having given over innocent blood"

        Although the sentence confirms Jesus' innocence, the emphasis is not on Jesus' fate or Judas' lack of loyalty to his master, but rather on his guilt and responsibility for the death of an innocent man. Matthew associates Judas with all those Jews who shed innocent blood on earth, "from the blood of the innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Barachi" (Matt 23:34-35), and Jesus is one of those righteous innocents.

      4. Evaluation of Judas' behavior

        Several biblical scholars have tried to defend Judas, explaining that he considered Jesus' claims as blasphemy, or that he received forgiveness through the Eucharistic cup at the last supper, or that his repentance in the present scene is sincere. All these interpretations are contradicted by Matthew's statement: "woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born" (26: 24).

        Let us compare the figure of Peter and Judas. The latter does not say: "I have sinned" and he does not return to the servant woman to testify at last. Yet, in Christian tradition, Judas will be considered unforgiven. Why is this? Peter was not responsible for the death of Jesus, but Judas was. In the Jewish world this is an unforgivable horror:

        • "But know that if you destroy me, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves, upon this city, and upon those who dwell in it" (Jer 26:15);
        • "They shed innocent blood ... and the land was profaned with blood" (Ps 106:38-39);
        • "And also for the innocent blood he shed, flooding Jerusalem with innocent blood. Yahweh would not forgive" (2 Kings 24:4);
        • "But you will take away all innocent bloodshed from among you, if you will do what is right in the eyes of Yahweh" (Deut 21:9);
        • "Cursed be he who accepts a gift to kill an innocent life" (Deut 27:25).

        In Matthew's theology, Judas did something so hateful that no repentance can do anything about it. And for our contemporary mentality, the very fact that Judas did not return to Jesus, who forgave so much, shows that his remorse was not a return to faith.

      5. The High Priest behavior and Judas' reaction

        Matthew's description of them is very hostile: the chief priests express no remorse or interest in Judas' sin or Jesus' innocence. The expression "What is that to us?" is a discharge of all concern (see Jn 21:22), and "You must see to it" is a refusal to be involved (see Mt 27:24; Acts 18:15). This harshness among the high priests forces Judas to two violent actions.

        1. "And having cast the silver pieces into the sanctuary"

          Regarding the thirty pieces of silver, we have already mentioned the influence of Zechariah 11:12-13 :

          (LXX) 12 And I will say to them, If it be good in your eyes, give me my price, or refuse it. And they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said to me, Drop them into the foundry, and I will see if it is good metal, as I was proved for their sakes. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them into the foundry in the house of the Lord

          Some difficulties arise when comparing the Hebrew version of the Massorah, the Septuagint and the Matthean version. First of all, how can Matthew speak of casting money into the sanctuary (naos) when he must have known very well that it is a place reserved for priests? Unless naos refers here to the entire temple complex. Then the Hebrew text speaks of yôṣēr, which means: potter. But the Septuagint translates this word as chōneutērion, which means: foundry, smelter, and the Targum Jonathan writes instead: sanctuary. Some biblical scholars have suggested replacing yôṣēr with ôṣar (treasure), a reading that is consistent with what Matthew says in v. 6 and supported by the Syriac Peshitta. The idea was also proposed that there was a foundry in the temple to melt the metal received as a gift and make sacred vases from it, a work done by a man who bore the name of potter; this metal was kept in the treasury of the temple. This idea has the advantage of reconciling the various versions together, but it is unlikely that Matthew knew of this custom. It is better to recognize that Matthew uses the various versions of Scripture according to what suits him.

        2. "He hanged himself"

          This passage is influenced by 2 Samuel 15-17, especially 2 Samuel 17:23, which tells how Ahithophel, David's trusted adviser, now a traitor, knowing that the plot would fail, "he went away to his own house...and hanged himself". We find the same vocabulary, including apagchesthai (to hang oneself). Despite all the efforts of the biblical scholars to give a positive meaning to Judas' gesture, it is unlikely that the Jewish community saw his suicide as a gesture of atonement. On the contrary, Mishna Sanhedrin 10.2 writes that Ahithophel will not have a share in the world to come. Acts 1:20 states that his death was a further disgrace and the expression of divine judgment against him. And for Matthew, this attitude is in contrast to that of Peter, who went outside and wept bitterly (26:75).

    2. The Chief Priests and the Price of Innocent Blood (27: 6-8)

      1. Blood money

        By handing over the silver coins, Judas forces the high priests to become involved in the guilt over the innocent blood shed, and thus the associated curse. Their reaction is very legalistic: "It is not permitted to throw these into the treasury (korbanas), a probable reference to Deut 23:19, which forbids bringing the wages of prostitution into the house of the Lord. It is only here that we find the word korbanas, a word from the same source as korbān (dedicated to God) which appears in Mk 7:11. We can therefore deduce that the money originally came from the treasury of the temple, and this explains why it is to this place, near the sanctuary, that Judas returns. But this money is now unclean.

      2. The potter's field

        To avoid contamination, a decision is made to buy a potter's field. The vocabulary of this decision is dictated by Scripture, which will be quoted in v. 10. Matthew uses the definite article: "the" field (agros; Acts 1:18 speaks of chōrion, an acreage) of the potter. This means that this field was well known. But since when? Since it was acquired, or after the story of Judas became known? Let us note that the only element that does not come from Scripture is the mention that the field was intended for the burial of foreigners, i.e. Jews visiting Jerusalem or proselytes. Matthew's expression that the field is called the field of blood "to this day" suggests an ancient origin to this account. An ancient origin is also implied by the phrase from Acts 1:19: "The thing was so well known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem that this field was called in their language Hakeldama, i.e. 'Field of Blood'". The word Hakeldama is the Greek transcription of the Aramaic ḥăqēl dĕmā (field or domain of blood).

        Can this field be located? Since Saint Jerome, tradition has placed it outside the present walls of Jerusalem, where the valleys of Kidron, Tyropoeon and Hinnom meet. There was the water and draught necessary for potter's wheels. With his pottery vase, Jeremiah (19:1) went down to the Valley of Hinnom through the Potsherd Gate. The Valley of Kidron, on the other hand, was the cemetery of the common people (2 Kings 23:6; Jer 26:23) where things were buried that were rejected by the king of Judah. Finally, it seems that the blood of the sacrifices of the temple was channeled into this valley (Mishna, Me‛ila 3, 3; Yoma 5, 6; Qumran Temple Scroll, 11Q Miqdaš, 32).

    3. The Fulfillment Citation (27: 9-10)

      Matthew wants to make it clear that the whole theme of the prize for innocent blood is a realization of what God said to the prophet Jeremiah. In his Gospel, he uses the expression "Then there was fulfilled what was spoken through ..." 14 times, whereas it is found only once in Mark (15:28), three times in Luke (18:31; 22:37; 24:44) and nine times in John. And only two prophets are named explicitly: Isaiah (five or six times) and Jeremiah (twice). As we noted earlier for Mt 26:56, the citation formula here is parallel to what is found in the infancy narrative (2:17), the other reference to Jeremiah. The parallel is reinforced by the introductory formula "Then" (tote), a different formula from the other introductions with hina (so that) or hopōs (how). This means that the two types of introductions must be kept distinct: the first (then) appears in a context of evil actions of Jesus' enemies, and intends to describe another major event in the rest of the story, while the last (so that) intends to express the meaning or purpose of an event.

      The citation of Matthew presents particular difficulties

      1. Use of Scripture

        Let us compare the content of his citation, the text of the Hebrew Massorah of Zechariah 11:13 and the text of the Septuagint.

        The underlined words represent what Matthew has in common with the parallel texts; the sequence may not be the same.

        Matthew 27:9-10Zechariah 11: 13 (Hebrew text)Zechariah 11: 13 (Septuagint)
        aAnd they took the thirty silver pieces [argyria]And the Lord said to me:And the Lord said to me:
        bThe price of the one priced,Throw it into the potter,Set them into the furnace,
        cWhom the sons of Israel priced.The dignity of price by which I was priced by them.And I will see if it is genuine in the manner in which I was tested for their sake.
        dAnd they gave them for the potter's field,And I took the thirty of silverAnd I took the thirty silver pieces [argyrous]
        eAccording to what the Lord directed me,And I threw it into the house of the Lord into the potter.And I threw them into the house of the Lord into the furnace.

        1. Line a of Matthew

          It is close to Zechariah's d line, and this is virtually the same as in the Septuagint. But in Matthew, the subject is no longer the heroic figure of the shepherd, but the high priests (they) who replaced Judas as the main actor.

        2. Line b of Matthew

          It is closer to Zechariah's c than to the complex Septuagint line. The similarity is all the greater since timē means both price and dignity, so that the expression "the price of the one priced" could be a free translation of Zechariah: "the dignity of price". There is, however, a big difference: in Zechariah, the tone is sarcastic and expresses indignation at the derisory price (that of a wound inflicted on a slave) for a shepherd, whereas in Matthew, where the appreciated one is Jesus, the indignation concerns not the amount of money, but the very fact that one has paid a price for innocent blood.

        3. Line c of Matthew

          There is no equivalent anywhere else. This is probably a way of interpreting the "by them" of Zechariah's line c, and of extending responsibility for the innocent blood to all Israel, anticipating what he will write later: "His blood is upon us and upon our children" (27:25).

        4. Line d of Matthew

          It has little relation to Zechariah, other than the reference to the potter in line b and e. Matthew used these two lines earlier in 27:5.

        5. Line e of Matthew

          It partly resembles Zechariah's line a, but with a stronger verb, syntassein (to order or direct), which he alone uses (three times) throughout the New Testament.

      2. The attribution to Jeremiah

        With so many similarities to Zechariah 11:13, why does Matthew write: "Then there was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet"? A multitude of explanations have been proposed:

        • A copyist would've replaced Zachariah with Jeremiah.
        • Matthew would have simply spoken of a prophet, and a copyist would have added: Jeremiah
        • Matthew would have had a blank in his memory when referring to Jeremiah, a prophet to whom he refers in the story of the childhood
        • Matthew would make the same kind of mistake as in 23:35 when he confuses Zechariah son of Berechiah (Zech 1:1) with Zechariah son of Jehoiada (2 Ch 24:20).
        • Matthew would quote a lost work of the prophet Jeremiah that contains a similar passage, or this passage was removed from the work of Jeremiah by anti-Christian Jews.
        • Matthew would rather quote the book of Lamentations 4: 1-2 (which mentions silver, pricing, the sons of Zion and the potter), a work merged with Jeremiah in the Septuagint
        • Matthew would refer to a collection of texts in which Jeremiah appears first.

        The simplest and most plausible explanation is that in 27:9-10 Matthew presents a mixed citation with words taken from both Zechariah and Jeremiah, and refers to them only by mentioning Jeremiah. This is one of his habits: in 2:5-6 he quotes Micah 5:1 mingled with 2 Samuel 5:2; in 21:4-5 he quotes Isaiah 2:11 and Zechariah 9:9; in 2:23b he probably quotes Isaiah 4:3 and Judges 16:17. But to which passage of Jeremiah is he referring here? Many mention Jer 19 which is in the Valley of Hinnom and speaks of the judgment against the Jerusalemites who filled the place with innocent blood, a place that will become a burial place, and as a sign given, Jeremiah will have to break a potter's jar. But two other passages of Jeremiah are a better candidate, 18:1 where God speaks at length to the prophet about the potter and 32:3 where the prophet buys a field which he weighs (šql) in silver coins, seventeen shekels. One can imagine that the memory of this living story of Jeremiah guided Matthew in the writing of his account where silver coins are given for the purchase of the potter's field, which is combined with that of Zechariah who also speaks of silver coins and the potter. But why attribute everything to Jeremiah? If Zechariah's vocabulary allows us to interpret what happens to Jesus, it is the figure of Jeremiah, rejected by the authorities because he spoke against the temple, that best explains God's plan and the most painful moments of the passion.

  3. Analysis

    Matthew interrupted the scene of Jesus being sent to Pilate with the scene of Judas' suicide. And we have noted the inconsistency between the two scenes: on the one hand, the chief priests have just condemned him and brought him to Pilate; on the other hand, at the same time, they are in the temple interacting with Judas; obviously, they cannot be in both places at the same time. The question must therefore be asked: should the scene of Judas' death be placed before the beginning of the Roman trial, or after? To help us answer this question, we must remember that Matthew has a habit of introducing glosses. Here are some of them:

    • When he takes up Mark's scene about Judas' negotiations with the high priests to arrest Jesus, Matthew adds: "What will you give me if I give him over to you" (26:15), a touch of avarice.
    • When he takes up the scene from Mark's last supper where Jesus announces that one of those around the table will betray him, Matthew adds a question from Judas: "Could it be me, Rabbi?", a defiant attitude towards the one who asked not to give anyone the title of Rabbi.
    • When he takes up the scene from Mark about Judas' kiss in Gethsemane, Matthew adds a word from Jesus which unmasks him: "Friend, that's what you are here for".

    1. Comparison with Other Accounts of Judas' Death

      Where did Matthew get that scene? It should be remembered that there are two other versions of this story, Acts 1:16-20.25 and Papias (2nd century), which will be discussed in Appendix IV. So let us ask two questions: Was there an original narrative to which the citation from 27:9-10 was later added, or, conversely, was it the citation that led to the creation of the narrative? Is the abnormally high number of words in 27:3-8 that are found nowhere else a sign of a prematthean narrative?

      1. First of all, it must be assumed that Matthew and Acts are two independent narratives, and their common points are an echo of an earlier tradition. As for that of Papias, it should be noted that we do not have its original context since it has come to us indirectly. Here are the common points:

        • Judas is no longer considered one of the Twelve after having delivered Jesus (implicit in Matthew, explicit in Acts).
        • His death is at the same time as that of Jesus (in Matthew his death is recounted before that of Jesus, in Acts it is communicated in the discourse of Pentecost).
        • His death was violent (by hanging in Matthew, by bursting in Acts, by swelling in Papias, because he was crushed by a cart and contracted a disease).
        • Related to his death is the use of money to buy land (a field by the high priests in Matthew, an acreage by Judas according to Acts as well as by Papias).
        • The earth was called "field/acreage of the Blood" (the reference to blood in Matthew comes from the fact that it was acquired with blood money in Acts because Judas died there).
        • Explicit reference is made to Scripture in recounting his death (to Jeremiah/Zechariah in Matthew, Psalms 69 and 109 in Acts).
        • The elements of this account are presented as ancient: according to Matthew, the field has this name "to this day", according to the Acts, the field is called Hakeldama "in their language" (the Aramaic of Jerusalem).

      2. Despite some unique words in this scene (apangchesthai (hanging), korbanas (treasure), timē (price), kerameus (potter) and taphē (burial)), the vocabulary of the whole remains very Matthean; the singularity of some of the words can be explained by the special subject matter.

    2. Impact of Scripture on Formation of Matt's Story

      It is possible that Mk 14:21, which speaks in a very general way of a horrible misfortune that awaits Judas, is the origin of narratives on Judas' terrible fate. And Scripture probably helped to provide details for these accounts.

      1. The influence of 2 Samuel 17: 23

        This is the suicide by hanging of Ahitophel, an advisor of David's who conspired against him. It is probable that the first Christians, knowing of the violent death of Judas almost at the same time as that of Jesus, had the reflex to compare this death to that of other illustrious figures who resisted God and his anointed one. Ahitophel is probably the source of Judas' death by hanging.

      2. The influence of Zechariah 11: 13

        The influence of Zechariah is easy to unnderstand: the hostility of the Jewish authorities, thirty pieces of silver, the throwing of the coins in the sanctuary, the price, and the treasure/potter. So is Matthew's narrative modelled on Zechariah's text? At the outset, it must be recognized that the differences with the parallel narrative in Acts argue in favor of the absence of a complete original account of Judas' death. It is also worth considering Matthew's practice in the use of Scripture, as in the infancy narratives: here, it is probable that Matthew introduced glosses on a pre-existing narrative, since the Scripture citations concern only minor aspects of the narrative and are in fact only tangents. On the other hand, in Judas' story, the references to Scripture concern major aspects, so that it can be said that Matthew composed his work by combining some traditional elements with Scripture; the latter played a major role in the main lines of the narrative. Thus the shepherd, mentioned in Mk 14:27-28 ("I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered") becomes for Matthew, referring to Zech 11:12-13, the one whose price is thirty pieces of silver.

      3. The influence of Genesis 37: 36-28

        The story concerns Judah's role in the sale of Joseph by his brothers. He advises them to sell Joseph for twenty pieces of silver instead of killing him and then trying to hide his blood. But this narrative has evolved in Jewish tradition, so that we find this in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (2nd BC - 1st century AD), Testament of Gad 2.3: "I and Judah sold him to Ishmaelites for thirty pieces of gold; and hiding the ten, we shared twenty evenly with our brothers". This is how Origen (185-253), in his homily on the Exodus, speaks of Joseph who was sold for thirty pieces of silver. Such a context may have contributed to the narrative of Jesus being sold for thirty pieces of silver.

      4. The influence of Jeremiah 18: 19 and 32

        First of all, there is a connection between the figure of Jeremiah and that of Jesus, both of whom were mistreated by the authorities of the nation. Then we have already noted the parallel elements: references to the potter, the purchase of a field, the silver coins, the burial place and the Valley of Hinnom. But can we go further and try to explain how Matthew came to speak of the purchase of a field, and a place called "of the blood"? Because of the parallel between Matthew and Acts, we must posit the existence of a prematthean tradition that speaks of the money badly acquired to buy land that bears the name of "blood". It is possible that it is this tradition that led Matthew to focus on texts of Jeremiah that mention the purchase of a field (Jer 32) and the Valley of Slaughter made profane by innocent blood (Jer 19), a burial place in the same Valley of Hinnom with which the field of Judas is associated. Let us recall that the theme of innocent blood is so major in Matthew that it draws the Jewish and Roman attitudes in parallel:

        • Judas tries to free himself from the responsibility of innocent blood by claiming to be a sinner (27: 4.6.8), while Pilate does the same by claiming to be innocent of the blood of Jesus (27: 24-28).
        • The chief priests and elders answer Judas: "You must see to it", Pilate answers them in turn: "You must see to it".
        • Judas is trying to get rid of his guilt by throwing money, Pilate by washing his hands.
        • Judas implicates the authorities with blood by giving them the money, Pilate implicates the people by getting them to say, "His blood is upon us and upon our children. "
        • Judas and Pilate profess Jesus' innocence, but nevertheless hand Jesus over, because they no longer control the situation and are prisoners of a system

        Did this quality of the blood of Jesus exist in the prematthean account? Without giving a complete answer for the moment, we can believe that Matthew may have had at hand a popular tradition, full of imagination, where Scripture may already have had a certain influence. And seeing the role of blood in both the Judas narrative and the Roman trial, one can understand why Matthew insisted on inserting it here.

Next chapter: Introduction: Background for the Roman Trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate

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