Judas Betrayer The Apostle who betrayed his Divine Master. The name Judas (Ioudas) is the Greek form of Judah (Hebrew “praised”), a proper name frequently found both in the Old and the New Testament. Even among the Twelve there were two that bore the name, and for this reason it is usually associated with the surname Iscariot [Heb. “a man of Kerioth” or Carioth, which is a city of Judah (cf. Joshua 15:25)]. There can be no doubt that this is the right interpretation of the name, though the true origin is obscured in the Greek spelling, and, as might be expected, other derivations have been suggested (e.g.
from Issachar). Very little is told us in the Sacred Text concerning the history of Judas Iscariot beyond the bare facts of his call to the Apostolate, his treachery, and his death. His birthplace, as we have seen, is indicated in his name Iscariot, and it may be remarked that his origin separates him from the other Apostles, who were all Galileans. For Kerioth is a city of Judah. It has been suggested that this fact may have had some influence on his career by causing want of sympathy with his brethren in the Apostolate.
We are told nothing concerning the circumstances of his call or his share in the ministry and miracles of the Apostles. And it is significant that he is never mentioned without some reference to his great betrayal. Thus, in the list of the Apostles given in the Synoptic Gospels, we read: “and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him”. (Matthew 10:4. Cf.
Mark 3:19; Luke 6:16). So again in St. John’s Gospel the name first occurs in connection with the foretelling of the betrayal: “Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him whereas he was one of the twelve” (John 6:71-2). In this passage St. John adds a further particular in mentioning the name of the traitor Apostle’s father, which is not recorded by the other Evangelists.
And it is he again who tells us that Judas carried the purse. For, after describing the anointing of Christ’s feet by Mary at the feast in Bethania, the Evangelist continues: Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: ‘Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?’ Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein (John 12:4-6). This fact that Judas carried the purse is again referred to by the same Evangelist in his account of the Last Supper (13:29), The Synoptic Gospels do not notice this office of Judas, nor do they say that it was he who protested at the alleged waste of the ointment. But it is significant that both in Matthew and Mark the account of the anointing is closely followed by the story of the betrayal: “Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” (Matt., xxvi, 14-5); “And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money” (Mark, xiv, 10-1). In both these accounts it will be noticed that Judas takes the initiative: he is not tempted and seduced by the priests, but approaches them on his own accord.
St. Luke tells the same tale, but adds another touch by ascribing the deed to the instigation of Satan: “And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and convenanted to give him money. And he promised.
And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude” (Luke, xxii, 3-6). St. John likewise lays stress on the instigation of the evil spirit: “the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him” (xiii, 2). The same Evangelist, as we have seen, tells of an earlier intimation of Christ’s foreknowledge of the betrayal (John, vi, 71-2), and in the same chapter says expressly: “For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him” (vi, 65). But he agrees with the Synoptics in recording a more explicit prediction of the treachery at the Last Supper: “When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit; and he testified, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, one of you shall betray me” (John, xii, 21).
And when St. John himself, at Peter’s request, asked who this was, “Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly.
Now no man at the table knew to what purpose he said this unto him. For some thought, because Judas had the purse, that Jesus said to him: Buy those things which we have need of for the festival day: or that he should give something to the poor” (xii, 26-9). These last details about the words of Jesus, and the natural surmise of the disciples, are given only by St. John. But the prediction and the questioning of the disciples are recorded by all the Synoptics (Matt., xxvi; Mark, xiv; Luke, xxii).
St. Matthew adds that Judas himself asked, “Is it I, Rabbi?” and was answered: “Thou hast said it” (xxvi, 25). All four Evangelists agree in regard to the main facts of the actual betrayal which followed so closely on this prediction, and tell how the traitor came with a multitude or a band of soldiers from the chief priests, and brought them to the place where, as he knew, Jesus would be found with His faithful disciples (Matt., xxvi, 47; Mark, xiv, 43; Luke, xxii, 47; John, xviii, 3). But some have details not found in the other narratives. That the traitor gave a kiss as a sign is mentioned by all the Synoptics, but not by St.
John, who in his turn is alone in telling us that those who came to take Jesus fell backward to the ground as He answered “I am he.” Again, St. Mark tells that Judas said “Hail, Rabbi” before kissing his Master, but does not give any reply. St. Matthew, after recording these words and the traitor’s kiss, adds: “And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come:” (xxvi, 50). St. Luke (xxii, 48) gives the words: “Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?” St. Matthew is the only Evangelist to mention the sum paid by the chief priests as the price of the betrayal, and in accordance with his custom he notices that an Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled therein (Matt., xxvi, 15; xxvii, 5-10). In this last passage he tells of the repentance and suicide of the traitor, on which the other Gospels are silent, though we have another account of these events in the speech of St.
Peter: “Men, brethren, the scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus: who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Haceldama, that it to say, the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take” (Acts, I, 16 …