The field of blood. It was very properly called so, because it was purchased with the thirty pieces of silver, which the traitor Judas received of the chief priests for Christ's blood. (Matthew 27:8
; Acts 1:19
.) It lay to the south of mount Zion, not far from the pool of Siloam. The name given it of Aceldama, is rather Syriac than Hebrew; and compounded of Achel, (from Chakel)field, and Damah, blood. This memorable ground is said to be shewn to travellers, even to the present day. Wherefore it was called the potter's field, is not so easy to say: unless, like our church-yards, some neighbouring potter dried his earthen pans there, as people now dry their clothes, after washing, in our church-yards. An old monk, called Drutmar, relates, that in his days, there was an hospital built in this charnel house for strangers, where the pilgrims, going to, and from, the Holy Land, used to lodge.
It is blessed to observe, how the Lord in his providence overruled events, at the crucifixion of Jesus, that his holy body should not have been thrown into this, or any other Aceldama, as a common malefactor. The Mishna reports, that it was not allowed, for any among the Jews who died by the common hands of justice, to be buried in the sepulchre of their fathers, except their flesh was first consumed. Now as the Lord Jesus, being considered by the law as a criminal, (John 18:30
) was thus liable to have been cast out with the common dead; what an overruling power must it have been, to prompt the minds of the honourable counsellor, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews, to have begged the forfeited body from Pilate!
And there was another providence, directing all this to the accomplishment of the purpose intended; in that the request was so well timed before the chief priests could influence Pilate's mind to refuse; and Pilate's mind so guided by the Lord, to grant the request before that he had power to deliberate. Had the Sanhedrim foreseen such a thing, no doubt they would have been beforehand with Joseph and Nicodemus, and prevailed upon the governor to deny. But He that had predicted Jesus should make "his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death," (Isaiah 53:9
) took care not only that a new sepulchre, suited to the infinite dignity of his person, should be prepared; but all the steps leading to the accomplishment of placing his holy body there, should make way, so as to answer all the important purposes of that prophecy.
As the holy body of Jesus was not to see corruption, but to arise the third day from the dead; this new sepulchre, wherein never man had laid, not only corresponded to the dignity of his person, but served to identify that person, as an article of faith to the believer; that it was Jesus, the very Lord of life and glory, whom the disciples placed there, that arose the third day, as he had promised, from the dead. Thus confirming the faith by circumstances, which, considering the difficulties with which the thing itself was surrounded, and the little probability that one dying, as the Lord Jesus did, under the hands of the Roman government, as a common felon, should make "his grave with the wicked, and with the rich, in his death:" nothing but the over-ruling and determinate counsel and foreknowledge of JEHOVAH could have contrived; nor any less than the same sovereign power could have accomplished. Here, as in a thousand instances beside, we may well cry out, "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom, and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33