How Did Judas Really Die?

Bill Hitchcock January 17, 2014 6
How Did Judas Really Die?

Judas Iscariot, How did he die? We have two separate accountings of how the life of the betrayer of Christ ended. Matthew tells of a suicide by hanging. Peter tells of a rather graphic and grotesque “burst”. What actually happened to Judas?

judas iscariotThe Matthew Accounting

“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Matthew 27: 1-5

The Peter Accounting

“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty, Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. Acts 1: 15-19

Matthew says that Judas, “hanged himself”. Peter says, “falling headlong, he burst asunder”. Which is correct? Actually, both!

The word “hanged” is transliterated from the Greek word, “apagch?” with a primary meaning to strangle or throttle. It is derived from the word meaning to choke. The intent is to remove someone by killing them through strangulation. A secondary meaning for the word apagcho is to hang.

John Lightfoot (1602 –1675), Minister, a rabbinical scholar and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge has an interesting perspective if not best understanding of the matter.

“After Judas had thrown down the money, the price of his treason, in the Temple, and was now returning again to his mates, the devil, who dwelt in him, caught him up on high, strangled him, and threw him down headlong; so that dashing upon the ground, he burst in the midst, and his guts issued out, and the devil went out in so horrid an exit. This certainly agrees very well with the words of Peter now mentioned, and also with those that follow, “This was known to all that dwelt at Jerusalem.” It agrees also very well with the deserts of the wicked wretch, and with the title of Iscariot. The wickedness he had committed was above all example, and the punishment he suffered was beyond all precedent,” John Lightfoot.

What Lightfoot is saying is that the devil caught Judas by the throat, lifted him up into the air and threw him down to the ground with a splatter. In the Peter accounting he said that Judas, “burst asunder” which literally means that he cracked open.  Hanging suffocates. Falling from a great height and smacking the ground causes the body to burst asunder as Peter proclaims.

The title “Iscariot” that Judas had by definition means, “men of Kerioth”. But Lightfoot expounds upon the moniker.

If Judas obtained the name Iscariot while he was alive it is possible the name is derived from the word “Iskortja”, which is a tanner’s garment or apron fitted with a purse. “And hence, it may be, Judas had that title of the purse-bearer, as he was called Judas with the apron,” supposes Lightfoot.

“But if he (Judas Iscariot) were not branded with this title till after his death, I should suppose it derived from Iscara: which word what it signifies, let the Gemarists (expert on Talmud) speak: “Nine hundred and three kinds of death were created in the world….Iscara is the roughest death.”

“The Iscara is like to branches of thorns in a fleece of wool; which if a man shake violently behind, it is impossible but the wool will be pulled off by them.” It is thus defined in the Gloss, ‘The Iscara’ begins in the bowels, and ends in the throat,” concludes Lightfoot.

It would seem from Peter’s accounting, meanings of terms and names and even the suppositions and research of Lightfoot would all draw the same conclusions. Judas was caught by the devil, grabbed by the throat, lifted up into the air and then thrown down to the ground thus disemboweling him. It also gives a little more meaning to the term “field of blood” used in Matthew and Acts

And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood”. Acts 1:19

“Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.” Matthew 27:8

Post your comments below.

Bill Hitchcock

Refining Truth


  1. edward piriczky January 17, 2014 at 8:22 AM - Reply

    I have always felt that Judas got a bum wrap…Yes he did betray Christ but he had no choice it was already in the program. Why would Satan kill Judas…makes no sense.  Judas repented of his part in the whole miserable thing and those who had really perputated the crime fearing that Judas would “spill the beans” on them killed him to shut him up. If Judas had of went to the authorities with his story there would have been a great trumoil. Judas has all ways suffered the brunt of the whole affair but I feel he had no choice.

  2. Margaret Hitchcock
    Margaret Hitchcock January 18, 2014 at 4:39 PM - Reply

    I disagree. Judas, just like everyone else had a free will. Therefore, he HAD A CHOICE. Bible teaches us that God doesn’t tempt or encourage anyone to sin or make us to do evil deeds. WE ARE MAKING THESE CHOICES on our own.

    Yes, Judas was in God’s plan in regards to Jesus betrayal but not because God made him to do so. God simply knew who Judas was, knew his week character, his greediness and jealousy. Bible painting Judas character very well. Simply put, Judas was predictable. God saw in advance what Judas is going to do and HE (God) foretold about this in the early books of the Bible.

    In my opinion Judas wasn’t a victim of God’s plan, instead he chose to be a “game player” in God’s plan.

    In regards to devil killing of Judas, yes at first I saw no point ether. Why he (devil) kills one of his own especially after the deed was done? But if you really think about it and read these verses carefully you will see that Judas did more than just repent.

    “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood“…

    Note the “brought again”. I bet, he was trying to convince the priests & elders more than once to take the money back. At this point he was determined and kept coming back. I see him screaming, crying and begging “please take it back!”

    I think the devil saw Judas’s determination in turning back from his wicket ways, …”I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood”… At this point Judas’s eyes were open to the truth and he saw how he got deceived by the devil. He repented and tried to reverse his evil deeds.

    Simply put, the devil was losing one of his “members”. This was enough to kill. After all that’s his mission and purpose anyway.  


  3. Myron Baughman August 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM - Reply

    The above theory given actually disregards the word usage of hanged. Check LXX, II Sam. 17:23. Lightfoot is a respectable scholar, but, the story of the Devil grabbing Judas by the throat, lifting him in the air, and then, throwing him down, is not really substantiated by Scripture, and therefore, unreliable.

    • starz September 1, 2014 at 3:01 PM - Reply

      I felt sorry for judas too but only because it was such a painful sin that he did.. the bible does not say the devil had any part,, and I agree lightfoot has only an opinion not truth,, judas repented to man not god,, if he had repented to jesus and asked for his forgiveness he would be with him now,, God said he would forgive all sins including betrayal, but I think that judas did not understand what kingdom jesus was talking about and that he thought he could force jesus into taking the thrown , he didn’t understand jesus was not talking about an earthly thrown but a different kingdom,, and when he discovered that, it was to late,, it was in the plan for jesus to be betrayed but it didn’t have to be judas, and he could have been forgiven, but he didn’t have the courage to ask jesus for it.. and when a person dies his body will start to swell up and will even explode from fluids so it is easy to see how it would happen while hanging there.

  4. brandi October 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM - Reply

    First some many are confused about the bible it holds the true in it but its all hiden and onice you find the truth you many wish you had not the anchant secrets are in the bible also hiden and judas did not hang himself or harm himself he along with many others were killed by the biggest clan in the world he was hung from the tree he never stolen no money ether it was a set up and the gutted him after they hung him and he did not die right away ether this clan is still here and will always be in the pasted they loved to toucher and crucified in many ways hang burning and many other sicker ways people should what up to what had gone on and whats still going on but kept from your eyes 

  5. Jewelie Dee January 11, 2016 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    It concerns me when Christians take an apparent contradiction and try to twist it into a non-contradiction. “Hanged himself,” is reflexive. I don’t know if it is in the original language or not, but it concerns me that himself is changed to Satan. What’s wrong with the idea that Judas hung himself, the rope broke, and his body then split on the rocks? That is also not clearly stated, but it seems logical, even though it is not specifically supported by Scripture.

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