I am seeking info on the “according to tradition” explanation of Judas Iscariot hanging himself on a tree that jutted out over a high precipice in the Valley of Hinnom. What is the “tradition” info source?
Hello, @neinsel! Welcome to Connect! Are you asking for the source of the tradition that Judas hung himself, or are you asking for the source of the tradition of the location of the event?
When researched the seeming discrepancy of details in scripture concerning Judas isacariot’s death, what consistently is cited is: ‘according to tradition’. Then a description of of the location of his hanging and the branch breaking resulting in his fall. What I am seeking is the source of where the ‘Tradition’ information came from. How do we know the location and that the tree branch broke etc. Thank you.
Hello, @neinsel! I apologize for not getting back. I missed the notification for your response.
As far as knowing that either the branch or the rope broke, we know that from inferring it from what the text in Scripture tells us. Here is an article that explains:
There are a couple of different things “according to tradition” could mean when speaking of biblical events. It could refer to early church tradition, in which case the source could be the apostles’ biblical writings or it could be some or all of the early church fathers. It could also refer to the Christian tradition, and the source for that is Scripture. In this case, so far as I can ascertain, “tradition” refers to the Christian tradition, and the source of the “tradition” is Scripture itself. The Field of Blood had been known as the Potter’s Field by the Jews because of the type of clay that was there, which is in the Valley of Hinnom according to this site, which was written by two instructors who taught biblical geography at university:
.Here is a Catholic source you can check out that may be helpful, as well-especially the 3rd paragraph down. https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07103b.htm
Let me know if this helps, and again, I am so sorry I missed your reply!
Hello Nancy @neinsel I found this to be a really interesting question, so did some research that I hope will answer your question.
Matthew 27:1-10 tells of Judas’ demise. In this account, Matthew says that Judas had remorse for his actions and threw the money back at the chief priests in the temple. They, (hypocritically) didn’t want to use the money, so purchased a plot of ground in the potters field for burial of foreigners. It says in vs 8 that Judas went out and hanged himself.
There are three controversies in Matthew that are cited: one is that Judas hanged himself, whereas, Luke, in Acts 1:18 says he threw himself down and his intestines spilled out.
The second controversy is that Matthew quotes Zechariah 11:11-12, but credits Jeremiah with the source.
The third says the priests bought the field while the other says Judas did.
In doing a little research, this is what I found: Both Matthew and Acts refer to the place purchased with the 30 pieces of silver as the “Field of Blood” or “Akeldama”. Only Matthew refers to the potter’s field. It could be said that since the chief priests didn’t want to use the money thrown back at them, so they considered it Judas’.
The fact that Judas committed suicide there, whether by hanging or casting himself down, satisfies the differing accounts. We are not dealing with eye witness accounts, here, but we are dealing with the same story. One was present at the time, although not an eye witness. Luke is giving as accurate account as he could find (Luke 1:1-4), although quoting Peter, who was also around during the time. Matthew’s account of “hanging” can be translated in Greek as “strangled” or “hanged”. It is possible that he did something to himself that caused him to fall, thereby rupturing himself.
From what I’ve researched, the location of Akeldama is below the southern gate of Jerusalem once known as “The Potter’s Gate” or “The Dung Gate”.
If that is the case, then it is quite conceivable that Judas threw himself down.
Regarding Matthew’s reference to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 19, speaks of the Valley of Ben Hinnom. It means, “Valley of Condemned Souls”. Jeremiah took the elders of Judah there for an “object lesson”. The valley was known for its red clay where potters got clay for pots. It was entered via the Potter’s Gate (or Dung Gate) where the people also exited to throw out their garbage. It was also the location where children were burned and sacrificed. Jeremiah 19:4 refers to it as a place filled with the blood of innocents. While speaking of the children sacrificed there, it is also prophetic when referring to Judas’ part in the shedding of Christ’s blood. So, Matthew may have had that passage in mind, as well as Zechariah 11:11-12, but only referred to Jeremiah.
So, the fact that the place where Judas died in the Valley of Ben Hinnom (Valley of Condemned Souls) (or Akeldama) was also associated with blood of innocents, blood money, and Judas’ blood can all be tied together. The fact that Judas did something that caused his own death can be confirmed through both passages. And that wherever the plot of land was, it was purchased with the 30 pieces of silver used to betray Jesus, as both Matthew and Acts state.
In 1989, a burial cave was found in this valley, lending more truth to Judas’ place of death. Which story of the manner of his death is more traditional than the other may be just that = tradition. The overall story is the more important point.
Matthew 27:3-8 tells us that Judas died by hanging himself. Acts 1:16-19 tells us that he fell headlong, and his bowels gushed out.
“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Apparently Judas Iscariot hanged himself on a tree in potter’s field. Nobody cared to bring him down and give him a proper burial. Either the body got so rotten that it slipped out of the rope or the tree branch broke and it fell down. Due to days of decay, the body burst open as it fell to the ground.