Akeldama (also Akeldamach or Aceldama) means “Field of Blood” in Aramaic. Akeldama occurs once in the New Testament in Acts 1:19 and is the name given to the place where Judas died.
Matthew refers to this field in the Greek as the “potter’s field.” According to Matthew 27:7, the priests used the money Judas threw in the temple before hanging himself to buy “the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.” Matthew also connects what occurred at Akeldama with prophecies from Jeremiah (Matthew 27:9–10). The fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 11:13 is also explicitly connected to Akeldama, although Zechariah does not mention the Aramaic name: “And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.”
Tradition places Akeldama south of Jerusalem in the junction of the Valley of Hinnom and the Kidron Valley. This eastern part of the Valley of Hinnom was made famous by Judas (Matthew 27:3–10; Acts 1:16–19). The Hinnom Valley is also known as the Valley of Gehenna. In the Old Testament period, it was where some of the ancient Israelites “passed children through the fire” (sacrificed their children) to the Canaanite god Molech (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2–6). Later, the valley was used for incinerating the corpses of criminals and unclean animals and to burn garbage from the city. Due to these practices and the vivid imagery the place evoked, Jesus used Gehenna as a symbolic description of hell (Matthew 10:28; Mark 9:47–48).
Today tombs and a large ruin that was once a charnel house can be found at Akeldama. The soil in the area contains a type of clay suitable for pottery, which is another reason it is designated as the “Potter’s Field.”
Acts 1:19 refers to the field of Akeldama bought with Judas’s thirty pieces of silver. The verse says that everyone in Jerusalem called “that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.” At Akeldama, what Jesus stated about Judas became reality: “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).