1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aceldama
ACELDAMA (according to Acts i. 19, “the field of blood”), the name given to the field purchased by Judas Iscariot with the money he received for the betrayal of Jesus Christ. A different version is given in Matthew xxvii. 8, where Judas is said to have cast down the money in the Temple, and the priests who had paid it to have recovered the pieces, with which they bought “the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.” The MS. evidence is greatly in favour of a form Aceldamach. This would seem to mean “the field of thy blood,” which is unsuitable. Since, however, we find elsewhere one name appearing as both Sirach and Sira (ch = א), Aceldamach may be another form of an original Aceldama (תֲקֵל רֵּםֶא), the “field of blood.” A. Klostermann, however, takes the ch to be part of the Aramaic root demach, “to sleep,”; the word would then mean “field of sleep” or cemetery (Probleme im Aposteltexte, 1-8, 1883), an explanation which fits in well with the account in Matthew xxvii. The traditional site (now Hak el-Dum), S. of Jerusalem on the N.E. slope of the “Hill of Evil Counsel” (Jebel Deir Abu Tor), was used as a burial-place for Christian pilgrims from the 6th century A.D. till as late, apparently, as 1697, and especially in the time of the Crusades. Near it there is a very ancient charnel-house, partly rock-cut, partly of masonry, said to be the work of Crusaders.