“I Have Sinned in That I Have Betrayed the Innocent Blood”

Matthew 27:3–10

3 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,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the 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.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, 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;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

“When Judas Iscariot saw how terribly effective had been the outcome of his treachery, he became wildly remorseful. During Christ’s trial before the Jewish authorities, with its associated humiliation and cruelty, the traitor had seen the seriousness of his action; and when the unresisting Sufferer had been delivered up to the Romans, and the fatal consummation had become a certainty, the enormity of his crime filled Judas with nameless horror. Rushing into the presence of the chief priests and elders, while the final preparations for the crucifixion of the Lord were in progress, he implored the priestly rulers to take back the accursed wage they had paid him, crying in an agony of despair: ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood’ [Matt. 27:4]. He may have vaguely expected a word of sympathy from the conspirators in whose wickedly skillful hands he had been so ready and serviceable a tool; possibly he hoped that his avowal might stem the current of their malignancy, and that they would ask for a reversal of the sentence. But the rulers in Israel repulsed him with disgust. ‘What is that to us?’ they sneered, ‘see thou to that’ [Matt. 27:4]. He had served their purpose; they had paid him his price; they wished never to look upon his face again; and pitilessly they flung him back into the haunted blackness of his maddened conscience. Still clutching the bag of silver, the all too real remembrancer of his frightful sin, he rushed into the temple, penetrating even to the precincts of priestly reservation, and dashed the silver pieces upon the floor of the sanctuary. . . . Then, under the goading impulse of his master, the devil, to whom he had become a bond-slave, body and soul, he went out and hanged himself.

“The chief priests gathered up the pieces of silver, and in sacrilegious scrupulosity, held a solemn council to determine what they should do with the ‘price of blood’ [Matt. 27:6]. As they deemed it unlawful to add the attainted coin to the sacred treasury, they bought with it a certain clay-yard, once the property of a potter, and the very place in which Judas had made of himself a suicide; this tract of ground they set apart as a burial place for aliens, strangers, and pagans. The body of Judas, the betrayer of the Christ, was probably the first to be there interred. And that field was called ‘Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood’ [Acts 1:19; Matt. 27:8].”

(Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 642–43.)

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