The meaning of Akeldama in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
a-kel'-da-ma (Akeldama, or, in many manuscripts, Akeldamach; the King James Version, Aceldama): A field said in Acts 1:19 to have been bought by Judas with the "thirty pieces of silver." In Matthew 27:6-7 it is narrated that the priests took the silver pieces which Judas had "cast down .... into the sanctuary" and "bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day." Doubtless it was a supposed connection between this potter's field and the potter's house (Jeremiah 18:2) and the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Jeremiah 19:2) which influenced the selection of the present site which, like the Aramaic h-q-l-d-m-' (Dalman), is today known as haqq-ed-dumm, "field of blood."
Tradition, which appears to go back to the 4th century, points to a level platform on, and some distance up, the southern slope of the Wady er Rababi (Valley of Hinnom) just before it joins the Kidron Valley. Upon this spot there is a very remarkable ruin (78 ft. x 57 ft.) which for many centuries was used as a charnel house. The earth here was reputed to have the property of quickly consuming dead bodies. So great was its reputation that vast quantities of it are said to have been transported in 1215 AD to the Campo Santo at Pisa. When this building was standing entire, the bodies were lowered into it through five openings in the roof and then left to disintegrate, so that a few years ago there were very many feet of bones all over the floor. These have now been removed. A little Southeast of this ruin is a new Greek monastery erected in recent years over the remains of a large number of cave tombs; many of the bones from "Akeldama" are now buried here.
E. W. G. Masterman
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