Matthew 27:5

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

Acts 1:18

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.

How does Judas hang himself and then fall headlong? How does the physics work?

  • cant answer because question is marked as duplicate...Papias (A.D 60-120) answers the question about Judas here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis Needless to say, Judas was a big glut of a man it seems. I still follow the Biblical version over that of Papias, however, clearly Judas met his end in a fitting manner for one so selfish as he. It may be that the branch broke and he fell impaling himself on a sharp exposed object on the ground.
    – Adam
    Apr 20 at 9:51
  • The SDA church writer E.G White has an interesting commentary on Judas well worth reading...ellenwhite.info/books/… "Later that same day, on the road from Pilate's hall to Calvary,..As they passed a retired spot, they saw at the foot of a lifeless tree, the body of Judas. It was a most revolting sight. His weight had broken the cord by which he had hanged himself to the tree. In falling, his body had been horribly mangled, and dogs were now devouring it. "
    – Adam
    Apr 20 at 10:03

The operative word here, πρηνής, is a hapax legomenon. The meaning not totally certain but often translated as "headlong". BDAG offers this:

forward, prostrate, head first, headlong, ... but prostrate and silent makes good sense in this [Acts 1:18] passage

Thus, all that is really required was that Judas, having hung himself, died and fell, and ended up falling flat on his face, possibly when either the rope snapped or a branch broke.

I think the main point of the story is the ignominy that he suffered at the end.


3 possibilities come to mind, all of which take as a working assumption that he hung himself from a tree.

  1. Nobody actually saw him fall; they just saw the mess on the ground and came to different conclusions about what had happened.

  2. His feet got caught in the tree on the way down, causing his body to rotate.

  3. He hung himself from high enough up in the tree that the aerodynamics of the human body need to be taken into account. It is unfortunately well known among arborists that when a person falls, if nothing is done to prevent it, the body will naturally incline to rotate head down (this is because of aerodynamics, not because of weight). This is discussed, for example, in the "headache" chapter of The Wild Trees.

    It makes no difference in a fall of a few feet, but it only takes a few seconds to go head-down, which is why so many people die falling from relatively low height off of roofs or out of trees.

Presumably his innards burst out because his body had been rotting for several days before he fell (or somebody cut him down).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.