Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, author, and former newspaper columnist, with degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies.
The value of silver
Over the decades I have attempted to find out what the value of 30 pieces of silver was in Biblical times and also what it is worth today. I have not been able to come up with any credible evidence, but there are numerous opinions. I first read, decades ago that the coins Judas were given to betray Christ were worth $11.00 and some change. Recent web searches have given amounts ranging from $20-$600. It has been pointed out that Joseph was sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver and that was the going rate for a slave in that dispensation. There is no way to know for certain but we can glean revelation from what this means for us today. There is an alleged gnostic gospel of Judas, but it does not shed much light on the money that was paid to kill Jesus. The value of that silver today, to believers in Christ, represents the cash that changed hands that lead to the salvation of our souls. There is no price to upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross because it was a priceless, selfish act of total love for us. What we can do is put the 30 coins in a perspective from a spiritual point and not a monetary one.
Separating fact from fiction
There is a book titled The Curse of The Denarii, (the 30 pieces of silver) which says that Judas did not die from hanging himself and continued to live. This is a work of fiction that contradicts what the Bible says. In the Gospel of Matthew,( 26:15) we read that Judas betrayed his Savior in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. In Matthew 27:1–10, we are told that after learning that Jesus was to be crucified, Judas attempted to return the money to the chief priests and went out and hung himself. The Jewish leaders considered the 30 coins to be blood money and used them to purchase a potters field. There are also those who seem to want to have sympathy for Judas and portray him as the victim but the Bible does not teach us to do so.
What is key to this story is that in Matthew 26:15 Judas went to the chief priests and asked them what they were willing to give him to betray Jesus. He asked to be rewarded and the Jewish leaders complied by giving him the 30 denarii. Judas had walked with Christ for 3 years as one of His closest companions, yet he willingly accepted the price of slave labor to betray Him.
The price of a slave the value of a Savior
In Exodus 21: 32 we read: If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. In those days 30 shekels was the price of a slave, so the Jewish leaders attempted to relegate the value of Jesus to that of a common servant. In spite of their attempting to devalue Him, he conquered the cross, death and the grave and rose victorious on the third day. He is the King of all Kings, and the Lord of Lords, the only begotten Son of the Living God. Believers in Christ should keep this in mind because in this world people will try to decrease your value, especially if you are serving Him. Always remember you were bought with a price, not the 30 silver pieces, but the precious blood of Jesus.
The King of glory took on human form and became one of His creation in order to redeem us back to the Father. One of his group of 12 faithful disciples who had walked with Him and talked with Him chose to give Him over to His enemies. Judas saw the miracles and beheld His glory up close, yet allowed Satan to enter his heart. He added insult to injury by betraying Jesus and accepting a meager slave wage for him. Perhaps all of this was going through his mind when he became so distraught he gave the money back, then took his own life. The actions of Judas were part of a bigger plan that worked together for the good of the entire world. In truth, those 30 pieces of silver are worth their weight in gold. The Jewish leaders thought they could devalue Him by giving Judas this paltry sum of money. They thought they could take His life and that would be the end. It was in fact, however only the beginning. What was thought to be the price of a slave, was the value of a Savior who redeems us from sin and death, prevents us from having to endure the second death and made away for us to be with Him throughout all eternity.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on April 10, 2020:
Thank you for reading.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 10, 2020:
I was always curious about how much silver was by today's standard. Even saying the silver was the same as the price of a slave doesn't really telll me what that would be worth by today's standards.
I like just thinking about Jesus as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I enjoyed your article and having it on this Friday was certainly the best time, Cheryl. Have a lovely Easter weekend.