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37. Judas ISCARIOT

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus (Luke 6:16). The meaning of his surname is unclear. Most believe that, similar to Mary Magdalene which meant ‘Mary from Migdal’, Iscariot meant Judas was a ‘man from Cariot’.

A place called “Cariot” or “Craiot” is mentioned in the Old

Testament in Joshua 15:25, and in Jeremiah 48:24, but the exact location of these sites is not known, and they are not mentioned in contemporaneous sources of the first century AD.

I personally believe Iscariot was simply a nickname, and it meant ‘the man from the cities\regions’. “Ish” means Man in Hebrew, and “Kiryah \ Kartha” means City in Hebrew and Aramaic.

Since all of the other disciples were fishermen and villagers from the rural Galilee, a member from a non-local urban environment could be nicknamed by his foreign origin. Judas therefore may have been an outsider “city boy”, perhaps even speaking a different dialect.

About two kilometres north of Tel Arad, in the northern part of the Negev, is a 200 dunam site of antiquities called Kh Kiryatin, ‘the ruins of Kiryatin’ in Arabic. The site was partially excavated in 1991-2 by the Israeli archaeologist Yehudah Guvrin, and it proved to have been inhabited in the Roman Byzantine periods.

In the Byzantine-Christian period a church was built on the western edge of the site and was exposed by Guvrin’s excavations. Guvrin is of the opinion that in late antiquity Christians may have believed that the site was the hometown of Judas Iscariot, and erected a memorial church. The finds in the church, however, bare no clues to a local veneration of Judas Iscariot, nor is such a memorial church mentioned by contemporaneous sources. The remains of the church can still be seen at the site.

A view of the remains of the Byzantine church at Kh. Krayot, near tel Arad. (C) N. Peery