Matthew 26:15
And said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
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(15) They covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.—The reward was relatively a small one, apparently about the market-price of a common slave (Zechariah 11:12); but the chief priests (Caiaphas and his fellows) saw through the sordid baseness of the man, and, as if scorning both his Master and himself, gauged their reward accordingly.

26:14-16 There were but twelve called apostles, and one of them was like a devil; surely we must never expect any society to be quite pure on this side heaven. The greater profession men make of religion, the greater opportunity they have of doing mischief, if their hearts be not right with God. Observe, that Christ's own disciple, who knew so well his doctrine and manner of his life, and was false to him, could not charge him with any thing criminal, though it would have served to justify his treachery. What did Judas want? Was not he welcome wherever his Master was? Did he not fare as Christ fared? It is not the lack, but the love of money, that is the root of all evil. After he had made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and to revoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened the conscience men do without hesitation that which is more shameful.And they covenanted with him - Made a bargain with him.

Agreed to give him. Mark says they "promised" to give him money. They did not pay it to him "then," lest he should deceive them. When the deed was done, and before he was made sensible of its guilt, they paid him. See Matthew 27:3; Acts 1:18.

Thirty pieces of silver - Mark and Luke do not mention the sum. They say that they promised him "money" - in the original, "silver." In Matthew, in the original, it is thirty "silvers, or silverlings." This was the price "of a slave" (see Exodus 21:32), and it is not unlikely that this sum was fixed on by them to show their "contempt" of Jesus, and that they regarded him as of little value. There is no doubt, also, that they understood that such was the anxiety of Judas to obtain money, that he would betray his Lord for any sum. The money usually denoted by "pieces" of silver, when the precise sum is not mentioned, is a shekel - a silver Jewish coin amounting to about 50 cents, or 2 shillings, 3d. The whole sum, therefore, for which Judas committed this crime was 15, or 3 pounds, 7 shillings, 6d (circa 1880's).


Mt 26:1-16. Christ's Final Announcement of his Death, as Now within Two Days, and the Simultaneous Conspiracy of the Jewish Authorities to Compass It—The Anointing at Bethany—Judas Agrees with the Chief Priests to Betray His Lord. ( = Mr 14:1-11; Lu 22:1-6; Joh 12:1-11).

For the exposition, see on [1361]Mr 14:1-11.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:16". And said unto them,.... Though the words, "to them", are not in the original text, they are rightly supplied; as they are by the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and mean the chief priests to whom Judas went, and to whom he made the following proposal;

what will ye give me, and I will deliver him to you? They did not ask him to do it, he first made the motion; a barbarous and shocking one! to deliver his Lord and Master, with whom he had familiarly conversed, and from whom he had received so many favours, into the hands of those that hated him; nor was he concerned what they would do to him, or what would become of him, when in their hands: all his view, and what he was intent upon, was, what they would give him for doing it. They did not tempt him, by first offering him so much money, if he would betray him; but he himself first moves it to them, and tempts them with it to offer him an handsome reward: and it is to be observed, that he does not mention the name of Jesus, either because they might be talking of him, when he came into their company; or else as suiting his language to theirs, who, when they spake of him, usually said, "he", or "that man", or "this fellow". And in the same rude way Judas now treats his master:

and they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver; that is, thirty shekels of silver; for it is a rule with the Jews, that when mention is made in Scripture of pieces of silver, without expressing the species, shekels are meant: so Onkelos, and Jonathan ben Uzziel, in their Targums on Genesis 20:16, render pieces of silver, by shekels of silver; so pieces of gold signify shekels of gold: thus the 1700 pieces of gold in Judges 8:26, are, in the Septuagint, Arabic, and Vulgate Latin versions, called so many shekels of gold; and our version supplies the word "shekels" also, as it does in 2 Chronicles 9:15, and yet some learned men have asserted (m), that there were no shekels of gold among the Jews, though express mention is made of them in 1 Chronicles 21:25. The value of a shekel of gold, according to Brerewood (n), was, of our money, "fifteen shillings"; and some make it to come to a great deal more; to "one pound sixteen shillings and sixpence" sterling: had these thirty pieces been pieces, or shekels of gold, they would have amounted to a considerable sum of money; but they were pieces of silver, and not talents, or pounds, but shekels. The silver shekel had on one side stamped upon it the pot of manna, or, as others think, "a censer", or incense cup, with these words around it, in Samaritan letters, "shekel Israel", "the shekel of Israel"; and, on the other, "Aaron's rod" budding, with this inscription about it, "Jerusalem Hakedushah", "Jerusalem the holy" (o). As for the weight and value of it, R. Gedaliah says (p), we know by tradition that the holy shekel weighs 320 grains of barley of pure silver; and the same writer observes (q), that the "selah", or holy shekel, is four "denarii", or pence; that is, Roman pence, each being of the value of seven pence halfpenny of our money: and to this agrees what Josephus (r) says, that a "shekel" is a coin of the Hebrews, which contains four Attic drachms, or drams; and an Attic dram is of the same value with a Roman penny: so that one of these shekels was worth about "half a crown"; and it usually weighed half an ounce, as not only some Jewish writers affirm, who profess to have seen them, and weighed them themselves, as Jarchi (s), Gerundensis (t), Abarbinel (u), and Gedaliah ben Jechaiah (w); but other writers also, as Masius (x) Arias Montanus (y), Waserus (z) and Bishop Cumberland. Now thirty shekels of silver were the price of a servant, Exodus 21:32. So (b) Maimonides observes, that the

"atonement of "servants", whether great or small, whether male or female, the fixed sum in the law is "thirty shekels of good silver", whether "the servant" is worth an hundred pound, or whether he is not worth but a farthing,''

and which was in value of our money about "three pounds fifteen shillings". This was the "goodly price", which Christ, who appeared in the form of a servant, was prized at, according to the prophecy in Zechariah 11:12, and which the high priests thought a very sufficient one; and the wretch Judas, as covetous as he was, was contented with.

(m) Waseras de numis Heb. l. 2. c. 3.((n) De numis Jud. c. 3.((o) Waser ib. & Ar. Montan. Ephron. sive de Siclo in Jud. Antiq. p. 126. Brerewood de ponder. & pret. vet. num. c. 1.((p) Shaishelet Hakabala, fol. (q) Ib. (r) Antiq. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 2.((s) Perush in Exodus 21.32. (t) Ad fin. Expos. in Pentateuch. (u) Comment. in 1 Reg. 7. fol. 221. 2.((w) Shalshelet Hahohala, fol. 72. 2.((x) In Joshua, 7. 21. p. 135. (y) De Siclo, ut supra. (in Jud. Antiq. p. 126) (z) De numis Heb. l. 2. c. 3.((b) Hilch. Niske Mammon. c. 11. sect. 1.

And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 26:15. τί θέλετε, etc., what are ye willing to give me? Mary and Judas extreme opposites: she freely spending in love, he willing to sell his Master for money. What contrasts in the world and in the same small circle! The mercenary spirit of Judas is not so apparent in Mk. and Lk.—κἀγὼ, etc.: καὶ introducing a co-ordinate clause, instead of a subordinate clause, introduced by ὥστε or ἵνα; a colloquialism or a Hebraism: the traitor mean in style as in spirit.—ἔστησαν, they placed (in the balance) = weighed out. Many interpret: they agreed = συνεφώνησαν. So Theophy.: “Not as many think, instead of ἐζυγοστάτησαν”. This corresponds with Mk. and Lk., and the likelihood is that the money would not be paid till the work was done (Fritzsche). But Mt. has the prophecies ever in view, and uses here a prophetic word (Zechariah 11:12, ἔστησαν τὸν μισθόν μου τρι. ἀργ., Sept[137]), indifferent as to the time when payment was made. Coined money was in use, but the shekels may have been weighed out in antique fashion by men careful to do an iniquitous thing in the most orthodox way. Or there may have been no weighing in the case, but only the use of an ancient form of speech after the practice had become obsolete (Field, Ot. Nor.). The amount = about three or four pounds sterling, a small sum for such a service; too small thinks Meyer, who suggests that the real amount was not known, and that the sum was fixed in the tradition to suit prophecy.

[137] Septuagint.15. covenanted with him] Rather, weighed out for him; either literally or= “paid him.”

thirty pieces of silver] i. e. thirty silver shekels. St Matthew alone names the sum, which= 120 denarii. The shekel is sometimes reckoned at three shillings, but for the real equivalent in English money see note on Matthew 26:7. Thirty shekels was the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32); a fact which gives force to our Lord’s words, Matthew 20:28, “The Son of man came … to minister (to be a slave), and to give his life a ransom for many.”Matthew 26:15. Ἔστησαν, they weighed out[1119]) The LXX. frequently render the Hebrew שקל (to weigh out, or pay) by ἽΣΤΗΥΙ, and in Zechariah 11:12, where the prediction occurs concerning these thirty pieces of silver, the very word ἜΣΤΗΣΑΝ is found.—ΤΡΙΆΚΟΝΤΑ ἈΡΓΎΡΙΑ, thirty pieces of silver) Such was the value of a slave, in Exodus 21:32; that of a freeman was double.

[1119] In the original Gnomon no rendering is given for ἔστὴσαν. In his Harmony, Bengel renders it bieten—they tendered, or proffered; in his German Version schiessen—which seems to mean “they threw, counting it as they threw it.” Engl. Vers. has, “they covenanted with him for.”—(I. B.)

Beng. seems to take ἕστησαν in the sense “they weighed out to him.” So ἵστημι is found used in Homer’s Iliad xix. 247, xxii. 350) more than once; lit., I place in the balance, I poise.—ED.Verse 15. - What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? There is no disguise in this vile question. Judas unblushingly reveals his base motive in offering such a bargain; and to enhance its value he, as it were, forces his personality into prominence; as if he had said, "I who am his trusted adherent, I who know all his haunts and habits, will do this thing." They covenanted with him; ἔστησαν αὐτῷ: they weighed unto him. The verb might mean "appointed;" constituerunt ei (Vulgate); and St. Mark has "promised," St. Luke "covenanted;" but there is no doubt that some money was at once paid to Judas, as he seems to have returned it (Matthew 27:3) without any further interview with the Sanhedrin, though they may have given him a portion at once, and sent him the balance on the success of his attempt. Thirty pieces of silver; τριάκοντα ἀργύρια. Thirty shekels of the sanctuary, equivalent to £3 15s. of our money. This was the legal price of a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32), and must have been considered by the traitor but a poor reward for his crime. He found the rulers as covetous as himself, and disposed to treat both him and his Master with the utmost contempt. Christ had taken upon him the form of a bondservant, and was here reckoned as such. The transaction had been typically shadowed forth when another Judas sold his brother Joseph for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis 37:27, 28); when Ahithophel gave counsel against David, his familiar friend (2 Samuel 16.); and when Zechariah wrote, "I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed [ἔστησαν, Septuagint] for my price thirty pieces of silver" (Zechariah 11:12). St. Matthew alone of the evangelists mentions the exact price agreed upon. It may have come naturally to the "publican" to observe the pecuniary aspect of the transaction. What will ye give? (τί θέλετέ μοι δοῦναι?)

Rather, What are ye willing to give me? It brings out the chaffering aspect of the transaction. So Rev.

They covenanted with him for (ἔστησαν αὐτῷ)

But the meaning is, they weighed unto him; or, very literally, they placed for him (in the balance). Although coined shekels were in circulation, weighing appears to have been practised, especially when considerable sums were paid out of the temple-treasury.

Thirty pieces of silver (τριάκοντα ἀργύρια)

Matthew refers to Zechariah 11:12. These pieces were shekels of the sanctuary, of standard weight, and therefore heavier than the ordinary shekel. See on Matthew 17:24. Reckoning the Jerusalem shekel at seventy-two cents, the sum would be twenty-one dollars and sixty cents. This was the price which, by the Mosaic law, a man was condemned to pay if his ox should gore a servant (Exodus 21:32). Our Lord, the sacrifice for men, was paid for out of the temple-money, destined for the purchase of sacrifices. He who "took on him the form of a servant" was sold at the legal price of a slave.

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