Damien F. Mackey
Dr. Ernest Martin had suggested in Secrets of Golgotha (1987) that Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, having access to the priestly part of the Temple, was himself likely, therefore, a priest, and perhaps of the line of Aaron.
This interesting notion we find also considered at: http://biblestudying.net/crucifixion4.pdf
In Matthew 27:6 the chief priests refer to the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas using the same Greek word “time” (5092) that Leviticus uses when discussing the estimation of the value of the ram in silver pieces.
Matthew 27:3 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 (3680) the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down (4496) the pieces of silver in (1722) the temple (3485), and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests (749) took (2983) the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful (1832) for to put (906) them into (1519) the treasury (2878), because it is the price (5092) 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.
Notice from verse 6 that the chief priests considered this money as ordinarily designated for the treasury. This is reminiscent of Exodus 30:16 in which the atonement money of the children of Israel given for each man was also to be put away for service in the tabernacle.
Moreover, verse 5 states that after Judas realized the full extent of what he had done and that Jesus was condemned to death, he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple. There are several aspects of this account that deserve our attention. First, we must recognize that verse 7 reports that the chief priests reckoned this money to be the price (“time” 5092) of blood which connects to the close relationship exhibited in the Old Testament between redemption and atonement by blood or by paying a price (in coins.)
Second, we have to take note of the fact that Matthew 27:5 uses the Greek word “naos” (3485) here to refer to the Temple. This Greek word is used in the New Testament to refer to the Temple house itself (which was comprised of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies) and not to the courts or the rest of the Temple complex.
3485 ναος naos
from a primary naio (to dwell); TDNT-4:880,625; n m
AV-temple 45, a shrine 1; 46
1) used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies (in classical Greek it is used of the sanctuary or cell of the temple, where the image of gold was placed which is distinguished from the whole enclosure)
2) any heathen temple or shrine
3) metaph. the spiritual temple consisting of the saints of all ages joined together by and in Christ
The Greek word translated as “cast down” is “rhipto” (4496.) It conveys the idea of throwing down, setting down, or throwing to the ground. So, according to Matthew, Judas throws the money (which the chief priests valued for Jesus’ life) into the Temple building itself, at least as far as the Holy Place.
We must keep in mind that Herod’s Temple complex was quite large in size and that the Temple building was surrounded by a large court, the court of the priests. In order for Judas to actually have thrown down the silver pieces into the Temple building it is very likely that he would have had to been standing in the Temple itself or perhaps near the Temple in the court of the priests. Consequently, in order to be in position to throw the silver coins into the Temple itself Judas would therefore have to be a priest. Otherwise, he would not have been permitted to be in a location near enough to place the silver coins in the Temple itself. Furthermore, if the Temple doors were not normally left open, then the conclusion that Judas was actually standing in the Temple building itself (and not just near to it) seems absolutely necessary.
We must also note some connections between these events and Zechariah who, in addition to being a prophet, was also a priest.
Consider that Judas has been paid the estimated value for Jesus’ life in pieces of silver in close parallel to Leviticus 5. But, we have also seen that Exodus and Numbers indicate that God required atonement to be paid in coins. Likewise, we know that animals could be purchased at the Temple for sacrificial purposes. Monetary offerings were to be placed in the Temple treasury. The blood which was used in atonement was to be sprinkled before the Lord in the Temple by a priest. And we have seen that the blood of the Passover lambs was sprinkled in the Temple by the attending priests. It is within this context that Judas (a priest) stands in the Temple (or the court of the priests) and casts the silver pieces that are identified by the chief priests themselves as blood money for Jesus’ death. In this way, Jesus’ blood was figuratively sprinkled into the Temple by a priest in the form of the silver pieces for which he was valued as the ram atoning for sin. Christ’s blood paid the ransom for our sins.