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Judas Iscariot committed suicide when he realized the evil that he had done.

Matthew 27:3-5 (KJV)

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 the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

The passage in Matthew shows that Judas hanged himself, but Acts 1 says something else:

Acts 1:18-19 (KJV)

18 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.
19 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.

Are these two passages contradictory? How did Judas die?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

This is generally explained as two different details of the same event being the emphisis of the record.

Both accounts tell of a suicide. One specifically mentions hanging, the other doesn't mention anything about cause of death but does mention his "falling". These can readily be reconciled through natural causes either by something going wrong in the hanging process (a branch breaking) or his dead body hanging until it broke and he fell -- or through outside intervention such as being found and cut down.

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this explanation does not account why the book of Acts would omit the important step of Judas hanging himself, and certainly does not account for the differences in who bought the field (Judas or the priests) and why it was called "Field of Blood" –  aceinthehole Aug 30 '11 at 13:37
@aceinthehole: I see no particular reason why the Acts account would need to include such a detail. Either Luke did not acquire that particular detail in his research or (more likely) he just didn't think it was important to the story line. As for the issue with who purchased the land, I have researched an answer here. –  Caleb Sep 3 '11 at 17:28
From an outside perspective, that does seem rather a reaching? grasping? explanation to explain two (the money, and the death) pretty direct and glaring contradictions (I did read the additional money answer, too). –  Marc Gravell Sep 27 '11 at 21:07
@MarcGravell: Not at all! I worked in EMS for several years and one thing I learned we HAD to do was ask the same questions about the history of a scene or medical issue to many different people. It never failed but that different people would include different details in their narratives. In order to write up even a reasonably accurate report ourselves we had to collect several sets of observations. The reports that you describe as "glaringly contradictory" are actually in no way contradictory at all. They both fit easily as details into a scene not fully detailed by either author. –  Caleb Sep 27 '11 at 21:14
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It's quite possible that both happened: he hanged himself, and when he was found and cut down, (which might have been some time later, long enough for the decay process to begin,) his body burst open with a predictable display of gore.

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