Acts 1:12-26 NIV
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
12Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walkc from the city. 13When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
15In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, “Brothers and sisters,d the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“ ‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’eand,
“ ‘May another take his place of leadership.’f
21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us,22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Accounts of Judah’s Death
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, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 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. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
Here are a series of problems claimed of these two accounts.
Matthew has Judas hanging himself, while Acts says he fell over and busted his guts open. So which is correct?
Here are the explanations to be considered:
The standard explanation given by harmonists is that Judas hanged himself, and then his body fell and broke open.
This has some promise: Judas hanged himself on Passover and before a Sabbath, and no Jew was going to touch the hanging corpse (touching a dead body caused defilement; it would have been work to take it down on the Sabbath; added to that, death by hanging was especially a disgrace; and hoisting a dead body isn't an attractive vocation if it isn't on your property), so it is safe to assume that Judas hanged himself and that the branch or rope eventually broke.
Once Judas died in the field, the land became defiled by his corpse. Hence it would become perfectly suited to become a full-time cemetery. In this ancient collectivist society, the gossip would readily get around as to where and how Judas died and it would not be a burden for the decision to be made to purchase the field in Judas' name to turn into a cemetery.