The Old Testament has a question hanging over it: "Who will inherit the promises to Abraham?". Isaac is chosen over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau and (though in one sense all the sons of Jacob inherit) Judah is chosen over his brothers. Likewise Perez over Zerah and so on through the line of David.

There is a parallel theme of a 'remnant' surviving God's judgement on disobedient Israel, and the survival of Judah when Ephraim is destroyed is part of that theme. Though Judah is eventually sent into exile, it is the remnant of Judah that returns and Judah's line that ultimately leads to Jesus (though not through a human father).

In that light, what is the significance that the one disciple who betrays Jesus is named Judas (the Greek for Judah)? Is the intention to highlight that the old cycle of rebellion, judgement, 'repentance' and relenting has finally come to an end?

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    Judas was a very common name back then. It likely means nothing.
    – fгedsbend
    Apr 20, 2013 at 14:44
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    I agree. Jesus' own siblings, whether half-brother or whatever, was named Yehuda, as well as another apostle besides "Judas Iscariot." The confusion occurs because the KJV didn't maintain the same transliteration method for each name. But, if you look at the Greek, you will see that they are all Ἰούδας.
    – user900
    Apr 20, 2013 at 14:59
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    @H3br3wHamm3r81 there are others too, I agree, such as the man whose house Saul was healed of blindness in. Apr 20, 2013 at 15:03
  • Of course. One can see this link to see all those who shared that same name. I was just referring to a few of the more familiar ones. blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G2455
    – user900
    Apr 20, 2013 at 15:05
  • @fredsbend there was more than one Jesus too of course. Apr 20, 2013 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


As you already stated, Judas (Strong's g2455) is simply a variation of the name Judah. Iscariot (Strong's g2469) translates to "man of Kerioth." Kerioth is one of the cities listed in Joshua chapter 15 as the allotment of the Promised Land for the tribe of Judah. So there doesn't seem to be a literal meaning behind the name, other than likely belonging to the tribe of Judah.
As for a non-literal significance, there is certainly a parallelism between Israel (and the kings of Judah in particular) rebelling and Judas-Iscariot betraying Jesus. Whether or not this parallelism has a further significance, I can't say.

  • Thanks, I find it interesting that the Judah connection is emphasised by being present in both names. Have you heard of bh.se by the way? You might find that site interests you too :) Apr 22, 2013 at 15:53
  • Thanks for pointing that site out, I actually just found both this site and the one you linked earlier today.
    – Walter
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:02

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