What is the “potter’s field?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew chapter 27 says: “[1] When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: [2] And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. [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.”

Once Judas Iscariot received of the chief priests 30 pieces of silver for betraying Christ (Matthew 26:14-16), he returned the money to them and committed suicide. They—most hypocritically—refused to have this “blood money” placed in the Temple treasury. Consequently, they bought a “potter’s field” in which to bury foreigners. From where did this designation originate? How are potters involved?

This “potter’s field”—whose Aramaic name was “Aceldama,” or “The field of blood” (Acts 1:19)—was located outside Jerusalem. Potters excavated and gathered its high-quality, deep-red clay to make their ceramics. Removing these nutrients from the soil rendered the land barren. Unusable for farming, it was better suited to serve as a graveyard. Derived from the English Bible, the term “potter’s field” survives even today—also called “paupers’ grave,” “common grave,” et cetera. It is used to describe a cemetery reserved for the disposal of unclaimed corpses, as well as the remains of unidentified and/or poor people.

Also see:
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?
» Who is Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?
» Does Matthew 19:27-28 prove Judas is in heaven?