Matthew 27:5
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
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(5) He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple.—The Greek word for “Temple” is that which specially denotes (as in Matthew 23:16; Matthew 26:61; John 2:19), not the whole building, but the “sanctuary,” which only the priests could enter. They had stood, it would seem, talking with Judas before the veil or curtain which screened it from the outer court, and he hurled or flung it into the Holy Place.

Hanged himself.—The word is the same as that used of Ahithophel, in the Greek version of 2Samuel 17:23, and is a perfectly accurate rendering. Some difficulties present themselves on comparing this brief record with Acts 1:18, which will be best examined in the Notes on that passage. Briefly, it may be said here that the horrors there recorded may have been caused by the self-murderer’s want of skill, or the trembling agony that could not tie the noose firm enough.

27:1-10 Wicked men see little of the consequences of their crimes when they commit them, but they must answer for them all. In the fullest manner Judas acknowledged to the chief priests that he had sinned, and betrayed an innocent person. This was full testimony to the character of Christ; but the rulers were hardened. Casting down the money, Judas departed, and went and hanged himself, not being able to bear the terror of Divine wrath, and the anguish of despair. There is little doubt but that the death of Judas was before that of our blessed Lord. But was it nothing to them that they had thirsted after this blood, and hired Judas to betray it, and had condemned it to be shed unjustly? Thus do fools make a mock at sin. Thus many make light of Christ crucified. And it is a common instance of the deceitfulness of our hearts, to make light of our own sin by dwelling upon other people's sins. But the judgment of God is according to truth. Many apply this passage of the buying the piece of ground, with the money Judas brought back, to signify the favour intended by the blood of Christ to strangers, and sinners of the Gentiles. It fulfilled a prophecy, Zec 11:12. Judas went far toward repentance, yet it was not to salvation. He confessed, but not to God; he did not go to him, and say, I have sinned, Father, against heaven. Let none be satisfied with such partial convictions as a man may have, and yet remain full of pride, enmity, and rebellion.And he cast down ... - This was an evidence of his remorse of conscience for his crime. His ill-gotten gain now did him no good. It would not produce relief to his agonized mind. He "attempted," therefore, to obtain relief by throwing back the price of treason; but he attempted it in vain. The consciousness of guilt was fastened to his soul; and Judas found, as all will find, that to cast away or abandon ill-gotten wealth will not alleviate a guilty conscience.

In the temple - It is not quite certain what part of the temple is here meant. Some have thought that it was the place where the Sanhedrin were accustomed to sit; others, the treasury; others, the part where the priests offered sacrifice. It is probable that Judas cared little or thought little to what particular part of the temple he went. In his deep remorse he hurried to the temple, and probably cast the money down in the most convenient spot, and fled to some place where he might take his life.

And went and hanged himself - The word used in the original, here, has given rise to much discussion, whether it means that he was suffocated or strangled by his great grief, or whether he took his life by suspending himself. It is acknowledged on all hands, however, that the latter is its most usual meaning, and it is certainly the most obvious meaning. Peter says, in giving an account of the death of Jesus Acts 1:18, that Judas, "falling headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." There has been supposed to be some difficulty in reconciling these two accounts, but there is really no necessary difference. Both accounts are true. Matthew records the mode in which Judas attempted his death by hanging. Peter speaks of the result. Judas probably passed out of the temple in great haste and perturbation of mind. He sought a place where he might perpetrate this crime.

He would not, probably, be very careful about the fitness or the means he used. In his anguish, his haste, his desire to die, he seized upon a rope and suspended himself; and it is not at all remarkable, or indeed unusual, that the rope might prove too weak and break. Falling headlong - that is, on his face - he burst asunder, and in awful horrors died - a double death, with double pains and double horrors - the reward of his aggravated guilt. The explanation here suggested will be rendered more probable if it be supposed that he hung himself near some precipitous valley. "Interpreters have suggested," says Professor Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 275, 276), "that Judas may have hung himself on a tree near a precipice over the valley of Hinnom, and that, the limb or rope breaking, he fell to the bottom, and was dashed to pieces by the fall. For myself, I felt, as I stood in this valley and looked up to the rocky terraces which hang over it, that the proposed explanation was a perfectly natural one. I was more than ever satisfied with it. I measured the precipitous, almost perpendicular walls in different places, and found the height to be, variously, 40, 36, 33, 30, and 25 feet. Trees still grow quite near the edge of these rocks, and, no doubt, in former times were still more numerous in the same place. A rocky pavement exists, also, at the bottom of the ledges, and hence on that account, too, a person who should fall from above would be liable to be crushed and mangled as well as killed. The traitor may have struck, in his fall, upon some pointed rock, which entered the body and caused 'his bowels to gush out.'"

5. And he cast down the pieces of silver—The sarcastic, diabolical reply which he had got, in place of the sympathy which perhaps he expected, would deepen his remorse into an agony.

in the temple—the temple proper, commonly called "the sanctuary," or "the holy place," into which only the priests might enter. How is this to be explained? Perhaps he flung the money in after them. But thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet—"I cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord" (Zec 11:13).

and departed, and went and hanged himself—For the details, see on [1370]Ac 1:18.

Ver. 3-5. Matthew (who alone reports this piece of history) interrupts his relation of our Saviour’s trial before Pilate, with an account of Judas’s end. We must not interpret Then strictly, so as to think Judas did this at the time when Christ was carried before Pilate, but some short time after; for they went immediately from the high priest’s hall to the judgment hall, and stayed there until Christ was condemned by Pilate, before they returned to come into the temple. But possibly it was that day, after Pilate had condemned him, or within some short time after that Judas (as it is said) repented himself; that is, began to be terrified in his conscience for what he had done. The consciences of the worst of men will not always digest mire and dirt, but sometimes throw it up, yea, though it hath first incurably poisoned them. Sin is sweet in the month, but bitter in the belly. All repentance is not saving. Nor doth all confession of sin obtain remission. Judas here repents, and confesseth he had sinned, and his particular sin, in betraying an innocent person; yet he findeth no mercy, he hath not a heart to beg forgiveness, nor to apply himself to Christ for remedy. But the answer of the chief priests and elders is very remarkable:

What is that to us? see thou to that. Wretched Judas! he had been the servant of these wicked men’s lusts, and for a poor wages served them in the highest act of villany. He falls into a distress of conscience for what he had done. What miserable comforters do they prove! Tempters never make good comforters. Those who are the devil’s instruments, to command, entice, or allure men to sin, will afford them no relief when they come to be troubled for what they have done: nor will it now satisfy the conscience of Judas, to remember that he had a warrant for apprehending Christ, and acted ministerially. The priests will not take the money, he throws it down in the temple, and goes and hangs himself. How great is the power of conscience, smiting for the guilt of sin! Judas could have no hope of a better life, so as all his happiness lay in the time of this present life; yet he is not able to allow himself that. The devil that entered into his heart to tempt him, now entereth again to persuade him to put an end to his misery in this life, by hastening himself to an eternal misery. Let all apostates, turning persecutors of innocent persons, read this, and tremble. There is a difficulty of reconciling this text to that of Luke, Acts 1:18, where it is said of him, that falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. That which is usually said is, that he fell from the place where he hanged himself, and with the fall burst himself. I know there are some others, who think that the word aphgxato need not be translated, ‘he hanged himself’, but he was suffocated or strangled. Some think the devil strangled him, and threw him down a precipice. Others, that he was suffocated by some disease, which caused a rupture of his body. Others think (as we translate it) that he hanged himself, and swelling, his body brake, and his bowels gushed out. Concerning the manner of his death, we can determine nothing, but that he was strangled, and his bowels gushed out; both these the Scripture asserts, but how it was we cannot certainly tell. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple,.... Upon the ground, in that part of the temple where they were sitting; in their council chamber, , "the paved chamber", where the sanhedrim used to meet (m): for it seems they would not take the money of him; and he was determined not to carry it back with him, and therefore threw it down before them, left it,

and departed; from the sanhedrim: and went; out of the temple; not to God, nor to the throne of his grace, nor to his master, to ask pardon of him, but to some secret solitary place, to cherish his grief and black despair,

and hanged himself. The kind and manner of his death, as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:18 is, that "falling headlong, he burst asunder the midst, and all his bowels gushed out"; which account may be reconciled with this, by supposing the rope, with which he hanged himself, to break, when falling; it may be, from a very high place, upon a stone, or stump of a tree; when his belly burst, and his guts came out: or it may be rendered, as it is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, "he was strangled"; and that either by the devil, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks; who, having been in him for the space of two or three days, caught him up into the air, and threw him down headlong; and dashing him on the ground, he burst in the midst, and his bowels gushed out, and the devil made his exit that way: or by a disease called the squinancy, or quinsy, a suffocation brought upon him by excessive grief, deep melancholy, and utter despair; when being choked by it, he fell flat upon his face, and the rim of his belly burst, and his entrails came out. This disease the Jews call "Iscara"; and if it was what he was subject to from his infancy, his parents might call him Iscariot from hence; and might be designed in providence to be what should bring him to his wretched end: and what is said of this suffocating disorder, seems to agree very well with the death of Judas. They say (n), that

"it is a disease that begins in the bowels, and ends in the throat:''

they call death by it, , "an evil death" (o); and say (p), that

"there are nine hundred and three kinds of deaths in the world, but that , "the hardest of them all is Iscara"; which the Gloss calls "strangulament", and says, is in the midst of the body:''

they also reckon it, , "a violent death" (q); and say (r), that the spies which brought a bad report of the good land, died of it. Moreover, they affirm (s), that

"whoever tastes anything before he separates (i.e. lights up the lamp on the eve of the sabbath, to distinguish the night from the day), shall die by "Iscara", or suffocation.''

Upon which the Gloss says, this is

"measure for measure: he that satisfies his throat, or appetite, shall be choked: as it is said (t) he that is condemned to be strangled, either he shall be drowned in a river, or he shall die of a quinsy, this is "Iscara".''

(m) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2.((n) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 33. 1.((o) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 62. 9. (p) Beracot, fol. 3. 1. (q) Gloss. in T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 19. 2.((r) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 35. 1.((s) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 105. 1.((t) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 30. 2.

And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and {a} departed, and went and hanged himself.

(a) Out of the sight of men.

Matthew 27:5 Ἐν τῷ ναῷ] is to be taken neither in the sense of near the temple (Kypke), nor as referring to the room, Gasith, in which the Sanhedrim held its sittings (Grotius), nor as equivalent to ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ (Fritzsche, Olshausen, Bleek); but, in accordance with the regular use of ναός (see on Matthew 4:5) and the only possible meaning of ἐν, we must interpret thus: he flung down the money in the temple proper, i.e. in the holy place where the priests were to be found. Judas in his despair had ventured within that place which none but priests were permitted to enter.

ἀπήγξατο] he strangled himself. Hom. Od. xix. 230; Herod. vii. 232; Xen. Cyrop. iii. 1. 14; Hier. vii. 13; Aesch. Suppl. 400; Ael. V. H. v. 3. There is no reason why the statement in Acts 1:18 should compel us to take ἀπάγχομαι as denoting, in a figurative sense, an awakening of the conscience (Grotius, Perizonius, Hammond, Heinsius), for although ἄγχειν is sometimes so used by classical authors (Dem. 406, 5; and see the expositors, ad Thom. Mag. p. 8), such a meaning would be inadmissible here, where we have no qualifying term, and where the style is that of a plain historical narrative (comp. 2 Samuel 17:23; Tob 3:10). With a view to reconcile what is here said with Acts 1:18, it is usual to assume that the traitor first hanged himself, and then fell down headlong, Matthew being supposed to furnish the first, and Luke the second half of the statement (Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Olshausen, Kaeuffer, Paulus, Ebrard, Baumgarten

Crusius). But such a way of parcelling out this statement, besides being arbitrary in itself, is quite inadmissible, all the more so that it is by no means clear from Acts 1:18 that suicide had been committed. Now as suicide was regarded by the Jews with the utmost abhorrence, it would for that very reason have occupied a prominent place in the narrative instead of being passed over in silence. It has been attempted to account for the absence of any express mention of suicide, by supposing that the historian assumed his readers to be familiar with the fact. But if one thing forbids such an explanation more than another, it is the highly rhetorical character of the passage in the Acts just referred to, which, rhetorical though it be, records, for example, the circumstance of the purchase of the field with all the historical fidelity of Matthew himself, the only difference being that Luke’s mode of representing the matter is almost poetical in its character (in opposition to Strauss, Zeller, de Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Pressensé, Paret, Keim, all of whom concur with Paulus in assuming, in opposition to Matthew, that Judas bought the field himself). Comp. on Acts 1:18. In Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18, we have two different accounts of the fate of the betrayer, from which nothing further is to be gathered by way of historical fact than that he came to a violent end. In the course of subsequent tradition, however, this violent death came to be represented sometimes as suicide by means of hanging (Matthew, Ignatius, ad Philipp. interpol. 4), at a later stage again as a fall resulting in the bursting of the bowels, or at a later period still as the consequence of his having been crushed by a carriage when the body was in a fearfully swollen condition (Papias as quoted by Oecumenius, ad Act. l.c., and by Apollinaris in Routh’s reliquiae sacr. p. 9, 23 ff.; also in Cramer’s Catena, p. 231; Overbeck in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1867, p. 39 ff.; Anger, Synops. p. 233). There is no other way of accounting for so many diverse traditions regarding this matter, but by supposing that nothing was known as to how the death actually took place. Be this as it may, we cannot entertain the view that Judas sunk into obscurity, and so disappeared from history, but that meanwhile the Christian legends regarding him were elaborated out of certain predictions and typical characters (Strauss, Keim, Scholten) found in Scripture (in such passages as Psalm 109:8; Psalm 69:25); such a view being inadmissible, because it takes no account of what is common to all the New Testament accounts, the fact, namely, that Judas died a violent death, and that very soon after the betrayal; and further, because the supposed predictions (Psalms 69, 109, 20) and typical characters (such as Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 15:30 ff; 2 Samuel 17:23; Antiochus, 2Ma 9:5 ff.) did not help to create such stories regarding the traitor’s death, but it would be nearer the truth to say that they were subsequently taken advantage of by critics to account for the stories after they had originated.Matthew 27:5. εἰς τὸν ναόν: not in that part of the temple where the Sanhedrim met (Grotius), or in the temple at large, in a place accessible to laymen (Fritzsche, Bleek), or near the temple (Kypke), but in the holy place itself (Meyer, Weiss, Schanz, Carr, Morison); the act of a desperate man determined they should get the money, and perhaps hoping it might be a kind of atonement for his sin.—ἀπήγξατο, strangled himself; usually reconciled with Acts 1:18 by the supposition that the rope broke. The suggestion of Grotius that the verb points to death from grief (“non laqueo sed moestitiâ”) has met with little favour.5. in the temple] Properly, “in the holy place,” which only the priests could enter.

went and hanged himself] A different account of the end of Judas is given Acts 1:18; either by St Peter, or by St Luke in a parenthetical insertion. It is there stated (1) that Judas, not the Priests, bought the field: (2) that “falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out;” (3) that the field was called Aceldama for that reason, not for the reason stated in this passage. The two accounts are not actually inconsistent, but the key to their concordance is lost. No entirely satisfactory solution of the discrepancy has been given.Matthew 27:5. Ῥίψας, casting down) in the disquietude of his mind.[1174]—ἘΝ Τῷ ΝΑῷ, in the Temple) Judas was therefore in the Temple, with the chief priests and elders; and, in order to soothe his troubled conscience any how, attempted to give his money to the Sacred Treasury. The part of the Temple where this took place is unknown. The word ναὸς, which, strictly speaking, signifies a shrine, is employed here in a wider signification, for ἱερὸν, temple.—ἀπήγξατο, strangled himself with a noose) which is usually done by hanging. The same expression is used by the LXX. in 2 Samuel 17:23, concerning Ahitophel, whom some, however, suppose to have died of the quinsey as well as Iscariot. Raphelius has diligently established the interpretation of hanging from Polybius, etc.; see also Gnomon on Acts 1:18.

[1174] “That very thing which had previously proved a bait to the sinner, subsequently causes him the deepest sorrow.”—B. G. V.Verse 5. - He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple (ἐν τᾷ ναῷ, in the sanctuary, or, as good manuscripts read, εἰς τὸν ναόν, into the sanctuary). The priests were in the priests' court (which would be included in the term ναός), separated by a stone partition from the court of the Gentiles. Into the latter area Judas had pressed; and, hurrying to the wall of division, he flung the cursed shekels with all his force into the inner place, as if to rescind the iniquitous contract and to cast away its pollution. He departed. He rushed away from the temple and the city into solitude, down into and across the valley of Hinnom, up the steep sides of the overhanging mountain - anywhere to escape human eyes, and, if it might be, to flee from himself. Vain endeavour! The memory of his useless crime haunts him; he has no hope in earth or heaven; life under this burden is no longer supportable. Went and hanged himself (ἀπήγξατο, he strangled himself; laqueo se suspendit, Vulgate). He mounted some precipitous rock, and unwinding the girdle (for it was unnecessary to find and take a rope with him) which he wore, and in which he had doubtless carried the pieces of silver, fastened it round his neck, and securing it to some tree or projecting stone, flung himself from the height. The horrible result is told by St. Peter in his first address to the disciples (Acts 1:48), "Falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." This may have resulted from the breaking of the girdle. A fragment of Papias gives another explanation, recounting that he was crushed and disembowelled by a passing waggon. Thus Judas, the only man concerning whom the terrible expression is used, went "to his own place" (Acts 1:25). he is the Ahithophel of the New Testament (2 Samuel 17:23: Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12-14). In the temple

But the best reading is εἰς τὸν ναόν, into the sanctuary. He cast the pieces over the barrier of the enclosure which surrounded the sanctuary, or temple proper, and within which only the priests were allowed, and therefore into the sanctuary.

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