ACELDAMA (Å·c̊ĕl′ då·må) or AKELDAMA (KJV) Judas Iscariot purchased this field where he killed himself (Acts 1:19). The name is Aramaic and means “field of blood.”
Evidently it was purchased with the money that had been paid to Judas for betraying Jesus. According to Matt. 27:7 the field purchased with this money was used for the burial of foreigners.
The priests’ decision to buy the potter’s field with the blood money is basic to the fulfilment of Scripture in the next verses; but it also provides a suggestive derivation for the traditional name Akeldama, Field of Blood, which Acts 1:18–19 also associates with Judas’ death, though in a different way.28 The traditional site of Akeldama is in the valley of Hinnom, which was a source of potter’s clay (hence the previous name, ‘potter’s field’?). If Matthew knew this location, the association with Jeremiah 19:1–13 would be obvious, since that passage is about burials in the valley of Hinnom, which has become a ‘place filled with innocent blood’, to be called the ‘valley of Slaughter’, the whole scene being focused on a ‘potter’s earthen flask’. But the potter also appears mysteriously in Zechariah 11:13, as the recipient of the thirty pieces of silver ‘in the house of the LORD’. The Syriac version of Zechariah, by altering one letter, reads ‘treasury’ for ‘potter’ (RSV has adopted this reading), and it is often suggested that Matthew knew both readings and has exploited the variant in his ‘exposition’. But the ‘treasury’ plays almost no part in his narrative – it is the ‘potter’ and the ‘house of the Lord’ (both in the Hebrew text) that form the central features of these verses, and which therefore are the key to the claim of fulfilment. The treasury, perhaps the source from which the money had been paid to Judas, would be the natural place to deposit money left in the temple, but its use as blood money made it unclean. A burial-ground (itself an unclean place) was a suitable use for it.
R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 1; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985, 391-392.
9–10. By now the echoes of Jeremiah 19:1–13 and of Zechariah 11:13 in the preceding narrative have made Matthew’s intention clear to an attentive reader who knows his prophetic scriptures. But now the fulfilment is spelt out in a ‘quotation’ which is basically drawn from the Hebrew text of Zechariah 11:13 (with the order of the clauses drastically rearranged), but which also includes hints of Jeremiah (for such ‘combined quotations’, cf. above, on 2:6; 11:10). Perhaps the mysterious potter of Zechariah 11:13 invited attention to Jeremiah, the prophet whose association with the potter was memorable (Jer. 18:1–6; 19:1, 11). The various reminiscences of Jeremiah 19:1–13 which we have mentioned above would then be noticed, and in the process the buying of the potter’s field might recall Jeremiah’s famous buying of a field (though not from a potter!) in Jeremiah 32:6–9; hence the inclusion of for the potter’s field in the ‘quotation’. The whole composite quotation is ascribed to Jeremiah as the better-known of the two prophets from whom it is drawn. (Cf. the attribution of a combined quotation to Isaiah in Mark 1:2–3.)29
Zechariah 11:4–14 is one of a group of passages in Zechariah 9-13 describing a ‘Shepherd-King’, God’s ruler for his people whom they reject and who as a result is ‘pierced’ and ‘smitten’.30 Lying behind the Christian use of this passage, therefore, is the image of Jesus as the suffering Messiah; Matthew has previously included references to Zechariah’s ‘Shepherd-King’ in 21:4–5; 24:30; 26:31. Here the clear relevance of the ‘thirty pieces of silver’ of Zechariah 11:12–13 to the story of Judas has suggested to Matthew a complex sequence of meditation on the fulfilment of Scripture, which to modern readers seems a strange way of writing history. But if we are to do justice to Matthew we must recognize that this is not a collection of unconnected Old Testament ideas thrown together at random, but the result of a careful theological study which takes account not only of superficial verbal ‘coincidences’, but of underlying themes of prophetic expectation.
R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 1; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985, 392-393.
In 1989, while the road along the east end of this Gehenna Valley was being widened, bulldozers uncovered three previously unknown burial caves which had remained undisturbed for almost fifteen hundred years. This discovery produced evidence that has provoked a reexamination of the three other long-known but littlenoticed burial caves in this area, and taken together the evidence from these six caves makes the continued identification of this site as Akeldama implausible. Akeldama, the “field of blood” (Acts 1:19), was the burial site for poor people, but these burials were of wealthy people.
In these caves have been found some of the most superb Herodian tombs ever discovered. There is impressive evidence that one of them may have belonged to the high priest Annas. It is located near the recently discovered family tomb of his son-in-law and successor, Caiaphas. Both men were priests before whom Jesus appeared (Lk 3:2; Jn 18:13–14).
“Archaeology and the New Testament,” DNTB, 95.
Traditional Mount Zion. Mount Zion is the hill on Jerusalem’s western ridge and is dominated by the Dormition Abbey church and bell tower.
This, together with the ritual significance of the spring of Gihon at the foot of Mount Zion (cf. Gen 2:13; 1 Kings 1:33, 38, 45; 2 Chron 32:30; 33:14), inspires the river imagery of the Psalms (Ps 46:4; 74:13–15) that is associated with Zion and temple. It is this river imagery that once again erupts in Ezekiel’s vision of the eschatological …
“Adam,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, 11.
Remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago, which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage. Remember Mount Zion, where you came to dwell.
Psalms 74:2 NRSV