Matthew 26:15
(15) They covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.--The reward was relatively a small one, apparently about the market-price of a common slave (Zechariah 11:12); but the chief priests (Caiaphas and his fellows) saw through the sordid baseness of the man, and, as if scorning both his Master and himself, gauged their reward accordingly.

Verse 15. - What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? There is no disguise in this vile question. Judas unblushingly reveals his base motive in offering such a bargain; and to enhance its value he, as it were, forces his personality into prominence; as if he had said, "I who am his trusted adherent, I who know all his haunts and habits, will do this thing." They covenanted with him; ἔστησαν αὐτῷ: they weighed unto him. The verb might mean "appointed;" constituerunt ei (Vulgate); and St. Mark has "promised," St. Luke "covenanted;" but there is no doubt that some money was at once paid to Judas, as he seems to have returned it (Matthew 27:3) without any further interview with the Sanhedrin, though they may have given him a portion at once, and sent him the balance on the success of his attempt. Thirty pieces of silver; τριάκοντα ἀργύρια. Thirty shekels of the sanctuary, equivalent to £3 15s. of our money. This was the legal price of a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32), and must have been considered by the traitor but a poor reward for his crime. He found the rulers as covetous as himself, and disposed to treat both him and his Master with the utmost contempt. Christ had taken upon him the form of a bondservant, and was here reckoned as such. The transaction had been typically shadowed forth when another Judas sold his brother Joseph for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis 37:27, 28); when Ahithophel gave counsel against David, his familiar friend (2 Samuel 16.); and when Zechariah wrote, "I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed [ἔστησαν, Septuagint] for my price thirty pieces of silver" (Zechariah 11:12). St. Matthew alone of the evangelists mentions the exact price agreed upon. It may have come naturally to the "publican" to observe the pecuniary aspect of the transaction.

26:14-16 There were but twelve called apostles, and one of them was like a devil; surely we must never expect any society to be quite pure on this side heaven. The greater profession men make of religion, the greater opportunity they have of doing mischief, if their hearts be not right with God. Observe, that Christ's own disciple, who knew so well his doctrine and manner of his life, and was false to him, could not charge him with any thing criminal, though it would have served to justify his treachery. What did Judas want? Was not he welcome wherever his Master was? Did he not fare as Christ fared? It is not the lack, but the love of money, that is the root of all evil. After he had made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and to revoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened the conscience men do without hesitation that which is more shameful.And said unto them,.... Though the words, "to them", are not in the original text, they are rightly supplied; as they are by the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and mean the chief priests to whom Judas went, and to whom he made the following proposal;

what will ye give me, and I will deliver him to you? They did not ask him to do it, he first made the motion; a barbarous and shocking one! to deliver his Lord and Master, with whom he had familiarly conversed, and from whom he had received so many favours, into the hands of those that hated him; nor was he concerned what they would do to him, or what would become of him, when in their hands: all his view, and what he was intent upon, was, what they would give him for doing it. They did not tempt him, by first offering him so much money, if he would betray him; but he himself first moves it to them, and tempts them with it to offer him an handsome reward: and it is to be observed, that he does not mention the name of Jesus, either because they might be talking of him, when he came into their company; or else as suiting his language to theirs, who, when they spake of him, usually said, "he", or "that man", or "this fellow". And in the same rude way Judas now treats his master:

and they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver; that is, thirty shekels of silver; for it is a rule with the Jews, that when mention is made in Scripture of pieces of silver, without expressing the species, shekels are meant: so Onkelos, and Jonathan ben Uzziel, in their Targums on Genesis 20:16, render pieces of silver, by shekels of silver; so pieces of gold signify shekels of gold: thus the 1700 pieces of gold in Judges 8:26, are, in the Septuagint, Arabic, and Vulgate Latin versions, called so many shekels of gold; and our version supplies the word "shekels" also, as it does in 2 Chronicles 9:15, and yet some learned men have asserted (m), that there were no shekels of gold among the Jews, though express mention is made of them in 1 Chronicles 21:25. The value of a shekel of gold, according to Brerewood (n), was, of our money, "fifteen shillings"; and some make it to come to a great deal more; to "one pound sixteen shillings and sixpence" sterling: had these thirty pieces been pieces, or shekels of gold, they would have amounted to a considerable sum of money; but they were pieces of silver, and not talents, or pounds, but shekels. The silver shekel had on one side stamped upon it the pot of manna, or, as others think, "a censer", or incense cup, with these words around it, in Samaritan letters, "shekel Israel", "the shekel of Israel"; and, on the other, "Aaron's rod" budding, with this inscription about it, "Jerusalem Hakedushah", "Jerusalem the holy" (o). As for the weight and value of it, R. Gedaliah says (p), we know by tradition that the holy shekel weighs 320 grains of barley of pure silver; and the same writer observes (q), that the "selah", or holy shekel, is four "denarii", or pence; that is, Roman pence, each being of the value of seven pence halfpenny of our money: and to this agrees what Josephus (r) says, that a "shekel" is a coin of the Hebrews, which contains four Attic drachms, or drams; and an Attic dram is of the same value with a Roman penny: so that one of these shekels was worth about "half a crown"; and it usually weighed half an ounce, as not only some Jewish writers affirm, who profess to have seen them, and weighed them themselves, as Jarchi (s), Gerundensis (t), Abarbinel (u), and Gedaliah ben Jechaiah (w); but other writers also, as Masius (x) Arias Montanus (y), Waserus (z) and Bishop Cumberland. Now thirty shekels of silver were the price of a servant, Exodus 21:32. So (b) Maimonides observes, that the

"atonement of "servants", whether great or small, whether male or female, the fixed sum in the law is "thirty shekels of good silver", whether "the servant" is worth an hundred pound, or whether he is not worth but a farthing,''

and which was in value of our money about "three pounds fifteen shillings". This was the "goodly price", which Christ, who appeared in the form of a servant, was prized at, according to the prophecy in Zechariah 11:12, and which the high priests thought a very sufficient one; and the wretch Judas, as covetous as he was, was contented with.

(m) Waseras de numis Heb. l. 2. c. 3.((n) De numis Jud. c. 3.((o) Waser ib. & Ar. Montan. Ephron. sive de Siclo in Jud. Antiq. p. 126. Brerewood de ponder. & pret. vet. num. c. 1.((p) Shaishelet Hakabala, fol. (q) Ib. (r) Antiq. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 2.((s) Perush in Exodus 21.32. (t) Ad fin. Expos. in Pentateuch. (u) Comment. in 1 Reg. 7. fol. 221. 2.((w) Shalshelet Hahohala, fol. 72. 2.((x) In Joshua, 7. 21. p. 135. (y) De Siclo, ut supra. (in Jud. Antiq. p. 126) (z) De numis Heb. l. 2. c. 3.((b) Hilch. Niske Mammon. c. 11. sect. 1.

Matthew 26:14
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