Thursday, 28 March 2013

Judas & Judah

Some thoughts I was having on the train.

In our culture, 'Judas' is a name with a wholly negative meaning - traitor. But at the time of Jesus, it was just an ordinary name. Another of Jesus' disciples was called Judas, as was one of his brothers, one of the early church leaders, and some other random people.

In fact, it was probably quite a good name - a bit patriotic for someone living in Judæa, like 'Scott' might be here.

Judæa comes from Judah, the ancestor of one of the Israelite tribes the brother of Joseph (of technicolour dreamcoat fame). And that got me thinking about some similarities and differences between Judas Iscariot and the first Judah. I hope this all makes sense, as I don't have time to write much; I've just listed quotes with headings.


Who he was


one of Jacob's 12 sons

Jacob had twelve sons: The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. Genesis 35:23-26
note: Benjamin has not been born yet. There are 12 here because Dinah is included.


One of Jesus' 12 apostles

he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:13-15
Judas is the last one

What he did:


sold his brother for money

Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites [...] So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. Genesis 37:26-28


betrayed his Lord for money

Then one of the Twelve [disciples]—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver [Jesus] over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-15

How he felt afterwards


realised he had done wrong

They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen’ Genesis 42:21


realised he had done wrong

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ Matthew 27:3,4

What he did about it


showed he meant it by a changed life

[When Joseph was threatening to keep Benjamin as a slave, he said:] ‘Now then, please let [me] remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. Genesis 44:33

asked for forgiveness (and was forgiven)

"... forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.” Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’ Genesis 50:17


did not ask for forgiveness and ended in tragedy

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5

His legacy


The ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, all their kings, and Jesus himself

Judah, your brothers will praise you [...] The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come. Genesis 49:8,10
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: [...] Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers [...] King David[...] and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:1-16
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Revelation 5:5



‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ Acts 1:20

But, behind the scenes, God is at work...


his evil plan brought about God's good plan

[Joseph said] "‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  [...] God sent me ahead of you [...] So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:4-8
'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good   Genesis 50:20-21


his evil plan brought about God's good plan

[Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to a cross. Acts 2:23
[The early church prayed] Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Acts 4:27-28

The result


physical lives are saved

[Joseph said] it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance ...You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there’ Genesis 45:5-11


spiritual lives are saved

He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9-10


Literaturelady said...

Wow. Amazing line of thought. I had never noticed those similarities and differences!


Kirsty said...

It just kind of came to me in the train. Once I saw one connection, more and more kept appearing!