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   In this article we will examine the events immediately preceding Yahshua’s betrayal and concentrate on what we can learn from Judas Iscariot. You may be surprised just how much the plight of this man can speak volumes to the hearts of those who have been enlightened, tasted the heavenly Gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 6:4).

A Passionate Jew and Man of Greed
   His full name in Hebrew is “Yahudah ben Shimon” (Judah, son of Simon, see John 6:71), or more familiarly, “Ish Kerioth” (man from Kerioth, an abbreviation of “haIsh meKerioth”). Kerioth was a city that belonged to the tribe of Judah (Josh. 15:25) and is likely distinct from another city, also called Kerioth, in modern day Jordan (Amos 2:2). (Jordanians today correspond to the ancient people of Ammon, Moab and Edom.) In fact, the capital city Amman is a reference to Ben-Ammi, the father of the Ammonites (Gen. 19:38).
  From the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel, the Jews of the first century anticipated the Redeemer to come in their day (Luke 3:15). Along with the politico-religious Jewish sects of Pharisees and Sadducees, there were others: the Essenes, Zealots and even Nazarenes – a label attributed to early believers in Messiah. The Zealots, founded by Judah the Galilean (Acts 5:37) were radicalized, and resorted to violent measures to overthrow the Roman seat and expedite the coming of the prophesied Messianic Kingdom. In Hebrew, they were called “Kannaim” (Zealots), which sounds like “Kana’anim” (Canaanites), and confusing translators into erroneously calling one of Yahshua’s disciples, “Simon the Canaanite” (Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:18) rather than “Simon the Zealot” (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). This disciple was NOT a Canaanite, however, but an Israelite who had previously been a member of the Zealot sect. (Judas Iscariot was probably not identified with this radical sect.)
  In Matthew 21:9, the people cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David”, citing Psalm 118:25, “ana Yahweh hoshiahna” and meaning, “please Yahweh, save us please.” Roman oppression had forged among the Jewish people, the “Hosanna” appeal for a Messiah to rescue His people and re-establish the Davidic throne.
  For example, in the second century there was a man by the name of Shimon bar Koseva who led the last of three major Jewish revolts against the Romans. Many believed he was the promised Messiah and so they gave him the Aramaic epithet “Bar Kochva” (son of the Star), a reference to Balaam’s Messianic prophecy (Num. 24:17).
  In the Jewish mindset, the notion of a suffering Messiah was incongruent with the anticipation of a military Commander, Who like Joshua and David would smash evil rulers with a rod of iron, stomp the blood of His enemies like one treading grapes, and march victoriously with blood-stained garments and a glittering sword in His hand (Deut. 32:41; Isa. 55:4, 63:1-6; Hab. 3:11; Psa. 2:9), thus saving Israel from oppression and establishing the covenant promises.
  Hence, we can appreciate the two disciples walking to Emmaus with a “Mysterious” companion, being disappointed that He Whom they had trusted to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21) had instead, laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13). Later, the eleven would also query, “will You NOW restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
  Perhaps Judas, too, upon receiving 30 coins of silver as recompense for his treachery (Matt. 27:3), may have thought Yahshua would just be apprehended and that He might afterward escape without hurt, while he also ‘checked-in’ some cash. (How true the Word, “the love of money is the root of all evil,” 1 Tim. 6:10). We may never know what factors contributed to Judas’ cunning, but the Gospels present at least one trigger that prompted Judas to betray his Master.

The Event That Led to the Betrayal
   In some Middle Eastern cultures, hospitality was customarily shown to visitors by greeting them with a kiss, providing water with which to wash their feet, and anointing their head with olive oil (Gen. 18:4, 19:2, 24:32, 43:24; Judg. 19:21; Luke 7:44-46). In the Gospel narratives, we find two occasions on which women surpassed cultural norms in this service and devotion by anointing the Master:

       • An unnamed woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50); and,
       • Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus in the house of one called Simon the leper at Bethany, but days before the Master’s last and fateful Passover (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:1-9; John 12:1-8).

  In the second account, we read that Judas (John 12:4-5) was provoked when Mary anointed Yahshua’s feet with costly oil of spikenard, saying, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Yahshua replied with this rebuke: “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (Matt. 26:10-13; Mark 14:6-9; John 12:7-8).
Judas had had enough! “So, from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him” (Matt. 26:16).

Preparations for the Passover
   When Peter and John asked Yahshua where they should prepare the Passover, cognizant of Judas’ plot (John 13:11), He didn’t specify a location but responded obscurely with a sign, saying, “Go into the city, and there a man bearing a jar of water shall meet you, follow him … His disciples went out and came into the city, and found it as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover” (Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13).
  Let’s rephrase this verse for clarity: “Rather than you having to find the way, when you arrive in the city, a man will greet you and show you the way.” Given the Gospel accounts consistently mention this event following Judas’ plot, we conclude Yahshua gave a sign, rather than a location, in order to preclude Judas from delivering Him before the time – “this is your hour, when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53) – appointed for His deliverance.
  So, Peter and John went and prepared the Pass-over according to the rites prescribed in Exodus, Chapter 12 – and not according to the New Testament symbols … for that was not yet given.
  The night before Passover, the Jews have a tradition of performing a ceremonial bath in hot water (called “mikveh erev Pesah”), which is confirmed in the Gospels (John 11:55, 18:28). But how did this tradition arise in the context of Passover?
  In Exodus 12, where instructions for Passover observance are first recorded, there was no mention about physical cleansing. The only prerequisite was that the males in the household had to be circumcised (verses 43-50). Given the limited instructions, we find an extraordinary occurrence in the second year of the wilderness wandering. Certain men of Israel were defiled by touching a dead body and then were excluded by their fellows from participating in Passover (Num. 9:6-7). Since the instruction which rendered one who touched a corpse ceremonially unclean for seven days, only came later (Num. 19:11-22), on what basis were these men excluded from the Passover ceremony?
  We may have a clue from an instruction provided at Mount Sinai. And Yahweh said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day Yahweh will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people, Exodus 19:10-11. The principle of washing and being clean when coming before Yahweh, was a fundamental concept to the Israelites (compare Exodus 29:4 and 2 Samuel 12:20). So, even though there was no such imposition of ceremonial cleanliness for Passover, the community understood this principle, and therefore prohibited the men who came near a dead body from observing the Memorial.
  Another example is found in 2 Chronicles 30:17-20. There, the people were plagued for participating in the Passover without first being ceremonially clean. Therefore, we infer that according to Biblical precedence, we are confident that Yahshua and His disciples, performed a ceremonial washing. While in the first covenant there were frequent washings and sacrifices (Heb. 9:9-10), in the new covenant there is only ONE washing and ONE sacrifice, through Whom we have the hope of everlasting life – a full body immersion into Yahshua’s Name (Eph. 4:5).

You are Clean, Though Not All of You
   Yahweh provides instructions on when, and how, to keep His sacred observances. And so, we are provided a specific time in which we are to observe Passover – at twilight on the 14th day of the first month (Exod. 12:6; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:2, 5, 11; Deut. 16:6). Therefore, the Gospel accounts inform us that Yahshua sat down with His disciples “when evening came” (Matt. 26:20; Mark 14:17) and more precisely, “when THE HOUR came” (Luke 22:14).
  After eating the Passover meal – according to the command, a roasted lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs – Yahshua arose, and stooping down as a servant, He began to wash His disciples’ feet, including Judas’. Peter protested, “Master are You going to wash MY FEET?” Yahshua answered, “Unless I wash you, you have NO PART with Me.” Peter, not yet understanding His Master’s meaning, then agreed to do whatever was necessary to get a FULL PART with the Master, and implored Yahshua to also wash his hands and head. Yahshua replied, “Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you” (John 13:10).
  Yahshua was telling Peter, you have figuratively bathed already, so what remains is that your feet be washed and you will be clean. However, there is someone (Judas) here, who has not yet bathed, and he is the one that actually requires his head and hands to be washed! Just what did Yahshua mean by bathing, washing and being clean? Was He implying Judas had not performed the ceremonial cleansing? Maybe, but it is very likely that all the disciples would have done this. As we progress through the narrative, we see what sort of “bath” Judas had not yet undergone.

You Are Clean
   Then John records a change in dynamics and observes that Yahshua was “troubled in spirit” (John 13:21). Imagine, your Teacher, Counsellor, Friend and Master, in Whom you had confidence and trusted that He would soon rise to power as a conquering King, is now feeling weak, anxious and depressed! Warning of a traitor in their midst, they all became sorrowful and asked, “Master, surely not I?” With an awkward atmosphere, Peter then beckoned John to ask Yahshua whom He meant. Instead of inquiring as the rest, “Master, surely not I”, John, a faithful disciple and now, grieved in heart, leaned on the Master and embraced Him saying, “Master, who is it?” (John 13:25). Yahshua responded to John, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish” (John 13:26).
  Judas, who having received the bread from Yahshua’s hand, asked, “Master, surely not I?” to which Yahshua replied, “You have said it … what you are about to do, do quickly” (Matt. 26:25; John 13:27). Judas, perceiving that Yahshua knew of his plot, immediately left to complete his treachery (John 13:30).
  Previously, Yahshua had said to His disciples, “You are clean, though not all of you” (John 13:10) but now, with Judas’ departure, He was able to say, “you are clean” (John 15:3). Now, Yahshua could institute the new covenant Passover symbols, after he who was unworthy was dismissed from this privileged seat at the Master’s table (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

Did Judas Partake of the Passover?
   Now we must recognize some discrepancies in the Gospel accounts:

      1. Luke references “the cup” before and after the bread (Luke 22:17-20), whereas Matthew and Mark only refer to the cup once (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23).
      2. Luke suggests Yahshua instituted the symbols and only afterwards, revealed a traitor in their midst (Luke 24:21). But this is at variance with Matthew and Mark’s recount (Matt. 26:21; Mark 14:18).

  Some postulate the reference to “the cup” twice in Luke indicates adherence to a non-Biblical Jewish ‘tradition’ of four cups of wine at Passover (which, by the way, is naturally fermented without brewer’s yeast, and commercially labelled as “Kosher for Passover”). This is unlikely, because Yahshua often contradicted their ‘traditions’ (Matt. 15:9) and Luke refers to “the cup” consistently in the singular, rather than in the plural.
  Perhaps Luke was emphasizing the cup, a symbol of Yahshua’s blood through which we have atonement from sin and the hope of salvation. And the brittle unleavened bread, symbolizes Yahshua’s broken body, as it says, “by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). The apostle Paul also confirms that Yahshua distributed the bread, followed by the cup (1 Cor. 11:23-25), and does not refer to the cup but once. Clearly, Luke’s account presents some chronological challenges.
   The second discrepancy has divided many Biblical commentators as to whether Judas received the new covenant Passover symbols. While we do not know for sure, it appears he was unwilling to remain longer than necessary, as his heart was elsewhere. Probably once the Passover had concluded, he, who had permitted Satan admittance into his heart, was ready to fulfill what was prophesied of him (Luke 22:3; John 13:27).
  The account provided us by Matthew – whose authorship, incidentally, is disputed by some scholars – was nevertheless present at the Paschal feast, and agrees (Deut. 19:15) in chronology with Mark’s. The variance of their narratives with Luke’s, and whose report is not predicated upon having actually been present, suggests that his interest was more with presenting the Passover emblems without digression to foretelling the betrayal, the subsequent strife among the Apostles as to whom among them should be the greatest, and the Master’s address to Peter concerning his forthcoming denial of their acquaintance (Luke 22:21-38). (These dynamics, occurring after their observance of the Passover, highlight their humanity which stands in marked contrast to their afterward being endued with Power from on High, Luke 24:49).
  With respect to the sequence of events attending that Passover, the following commentaries on Luke 22:21 concur:

      • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers; “There is again a slight discrepancy in the order of facts, St. Luke placing the mention of the Betrayal after, St. Matthew and St. Mark before, the institution of the memorial.”
       • Meyer’s NT Commentary; “Luke has this reference to the traitor in a wrong position, where it probably has been placed by way of transition to the following dispute about precedence. According to Matthew 26:21, Mark 14:18, it is to be placed at the beginning of the meal, and that in such a manner that the departure of Judas ensued before the institution of the Master’s Supper.”

  So, did Judas partake of the Passover? Certainly, he did, according to the instructions given in Exodus 12. But he likely left before Yahshua instituted the new covenant symbols.

Concluding the Evening
   Finally, after Yahshua gave words of encourage-ment and offered a prayer, they sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives. Psalms 113-118 are referred to as the “Hallel” (the Psalms of Ascent), which were customarily sung on Passover as a reminder of Yahweh’s redemption from Egypt, and culminate with a Messianic theme. Probably, the hymn Yahshua and the disciples sang was the concluding Hallel, Psalm 118.

      21 I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my Salvation.
      22 The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone.
      25 Save now Yahweh, I pray; Yahweh, I pray, send now prosperity.
      26 Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Yahweh! We have blessed You from the house of Yahweh.

  The table below attempts to summarize the sequence of events on the Passover night and might be used as a Bible study aid, in understanding how the Gospels can be harmonized.

Night of Vigil and Future Messianic Redemption
   In Exodus 12:42, the Passover night is called “leil shimurim” (night of guarding), in which the Israelites anxiously stayed awake, praying Yahweh would see the blood on the doorposts of their houses and pass over, forbidding the destroying angel from slaying the firstborn males. Not only were the Israelites on guard, but a careful reading shows that Yahweh, too, was standing on guard to defend His people. Hence, we find Yahshua telling His disciples to “watch and pray” even for an hour into the night (Matt. 26:40-41), and this further explains why so many people were awake until the rooster crowing at sunrise (Matt. 26:69-75).
  Even to this day, many Jews continue this practice to refrain from sleep until the morning, as they anticipate the future coming of Messiah and redemption. It is very interesting when considering the breadth of Scripture, that the Day of Yahweh is described as a complex series of events lasting for a year (Isa. 34:8). Given the Exodus is the most repeated theme portraying the coming of Messiah (Isa. 10:26, 11:15, 27:12; Jer. 16:14-15, 23:1-8; Mic. 7:15; Zech. 10:11; Rev. 12), the Passover – even all the appointed times – serve a prophetic function.
  Finally, it was there, in the garden of Gethsemane (meaning ‘oil press’), that Judas came to betray his Master with a kiss. With no reciprocating bitterness or resentment, Yahshua soberly entreated, “Friend, why have you come” (Matt. 26:50). Imagine the weight of this one word, and potentially, its impact on Judas – “FRIEND” – My companion, comrade, brother.

Purifying our Hearts with the Words of Everlasting Life
   So, what did Yahshua mean, when He said, “Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you?” (John 13:10). In John 15:3, after Judas had departed, Yahshua said, “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.” Unlike Judas, Peter had already “bathed” – immersed, into the Saviour’s words confessing, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of everlasting life” (John 6:68). Similarly, we are told Yahshua sanctifies His people, “with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26) and “through the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). Simply put, one can be physically washed (parallels to immersion) and could even have their feet washed by Yahshua Himself, and still be unclean, if his HEART is not washed and circumcised to perform Yahweh’s will (Ezek. 44:9).
  In preparation for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, not only must we clean our properties from physical leaven (Exod. 13:7), we need to sweep and wipe our hearts clean from spiritual leaven. Only then, are we found worthy to sit at the Master’s table.

Reviewing the Key Learnings
   To summarize, we explored three reasons Judas betrayed the Master.

   • First, he doubted whether Yahshua was the prophesied Messiah;
   • Second, his love of money manifested the root of evil in his heart; and,
   • Third, his rejecting discipline generated hostility.

   We learned from Scripture there was a ceremonial cleansing as preparatory for observing Passover, and examined the chronology of events of Yahshua’s last Passover which suggests Judas was not present for the Master’s institution of the new covenant symbols. Though outwardly clean, Yahshua said Judas was not clean, because he did not allow Yahshua’s words to purge him of sin.
  The lesson for us? Immersion into Yahshua’s Name and having our feet washed at Passover ALONE is not enough. Though both are necessary, we need to daily wash our hearts clean by carefully following Yahshua’s words, especially His loving discipline which is intended to rescue us from sin, and prevent us from erring in the way of Judas.

-Deacon Rohan John (Australia)

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