Field of Blood:

Akeldama is the name which the Jews of Jerusalem gave in their proper tongue, Aramaic, to the field near Jerusalem which was purchased with the money which had been given to the betrayer Judas for the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word means field of blood. It was previously called as Potter's Field, and was appropriated as the burial-place for strangers (Mat 27:7,8; Act 1:19). It lies on a narrow level terrace on the south face of the valley or ravine of Hinnom. Judas had returned back the money to the priests and caused his violent death therein.

Vivid Names:

And all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, knew it ‘Field of Blood’. In Holy Bible it refers as Akeldama or Aceldama as per the version. The modern name of the place is Hak ed-damm.

History and Tradition:

The tradition that fixes this spot reaches back to the age of Jerome. Once the tradition was that the soil of this spot, a deep pit or cellar, was believed to have the power of consuming dead bodies in the space of twenty-four hours, so that whole shiploads of it are said to have been carried away in A.D. 1218 AD, in order to cover the famous Campo Santo in Pisa.

Death of Judas:

He probably hanged himself on a tree projecting over the precipices of the Valley of Hinnom, and afterward, on account of the rope or limb breaking, fell headlong with such force as to burst his body open on the jagged rocks. This is the traditional account of his death.

Related Prophecies:

It was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Prophet Jeremiah saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.’

In Peter's speech to a crowd of one hundred and twenty people, he quoted prophesies with reference to that very desolation of Judas, that is, the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no one dwell in it. And let another man take his office.' Also we see the potter's reference in Jeremiah. 'Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will announce My words to you.' (Jeremiah 18:2) 'Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you.' (Jeremiah 19:2)

Gospel Version and Acts Version:

We see the reference in both the Mathews Gospel and Luke’s version in Acts of Apostles (Mat 27:7,8; Act 1:19). According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the chief priests bought the potter’s field with Judas’ 30 pieces of silver cast down into the sanctuary, as a place to bury foreigners while in Acts it is stated that Judas obtained the field himself and met his death in it. As Judas returned the money throwing it to the sanctuary and the priests refused to accept the returned money, either for themselves or for the temple treasury it solely remained to Judas, his estate, or his heirs even after his death.

The reason assigned for this name in Matthew being the fact that the money that bought it was the price of blood, innocent blood of Jesus. The reason in Acts is appearing to be derived from the bloody death of Judas. It regards the two reasons given for the name of the field, Akeldema it emerges to the same meaning either one of them being sufficient to suggest the name and any of these reason does not deny the other.

Sequence of Events:

On the day when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, Judas Iscariot, one among the twelve, went to the chief priests and asked 'What will you give me to betray Jesus?' The high priests weighed out thirty pieces of silver coins, and given to him. (Matthew 26:15) Judas gave them a sign whomsoever he will kiss; that same is Jesus. That day onwards Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

On the day of Passover, during the evening time while Jesus was reclining at the table with twelve disciples, Jesus said to them that one of them would betray him. Then he told them that he is the man who dipped his hand with him in the bowl. Then he told them 'but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.' Judas said, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself.' Suddenly Satan entered in Judas, he left the place and went to the high priests. (Mathew 26: 19-25)

After the third time prayer in Gethsemane, Judas and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people, came to catch Jesus. Judas came forward and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him. They laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

After the night trial of Jesus in Court of High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, in the morning, chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

When Judas came to know that Jesus was condemned, he repented himself, and brought back 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 to that yourself. He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. Chief Priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought the potter's land to bury the strangers.

Priestly Succession:

The elder two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihud were guilty of offering strange fire on the altar of burnt-offering . This sacrilegious act caused judicial death of Nadab and Abihu. Eleazar and Ithamar were more pious and reverent; and from them descended the long line of priests to whom was committed the ceremonial law of Israel, the succession changing from one branch to the other with certain crises in the nation. At his death, Aaron was succeeded by his oldest living son, Eleazar (Numbers 20:28; Deuteronomy 10:6). He was appointed to the charge of the sanctuary. Eleazar took part with Moses in numbering the people ( 26:3,4), and assisted at the inauguration of Joshua. He assisted in the distribution of the land after the conquest ( Jos 14:1). The high-priesthood remained in his family till the time of Eli, into whose family it passed, till it was restored to the family of Eleazar in the person of Zadok ( 1Sa 2:35; 1Ki 2:27). The sons of Aaron, received thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of the Simeonites and from the tribe of Benjamin. The priestly family of Aaron is known as Aaronite. (Joshua 21:4)

Aaron was a forerunner of Jesus Christ in his official character as the high priest. His priesthood was a 'shadow of heavenly things', and was intended to lead the people of Israel to look forward to the time when another priest would arise after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 6:20).

(Excerpts from 'Light of Life - The Bible : A Family Companion' to be launched)

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