One of the most despised figures in all of human history is Judas, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the traditional telling, Judas is the person who identified Jesus to the Temple guards who were searching for him by leading them to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus and the others were spending the night, and then kissing him on the cheek. Thus we have the original villain who betrays a friend or family member by giving the “Judas kiss.” Of course, the story is preposterous. Jesus had been openly teaching in the courts of the Temple for days, making no attempt whatsoever to hide his identity. It was the time of the Passover, the Feast of Liberation. Jerusalem was filled with travelers from all over Israel and the Jewish diaspora. Pilate, concerned there might be an uprising at this most dangerous of moments, had requested and received the basing of extra troops from Damascus in the Syrian Department. There is no doubt that the Romans knew who Jesus was and they were following his every movement. They knew that day after day, Jesus had been walking from the home of Lazarus in Bethany to the Jerusalem Temple and preaching for hours.
Joseph Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest and his supporters and guards, not to mention spies, were also aware of the presence of Jesus, his disciples, and hundreds, perhaps thousands of followers who watched his comings and goings, and listened to his teaching iin the Temple courtyard.
We know that subsequently Jesus was arrested by Pilate, condemned as a seditionist, tortured and crucified. What happened subsequently is a matter of overwhelming importance in human history.
As for Judas, we are told that he was agonized by his betrayal and committed suicide. In The Murdered Messiah, these subsequent events are described in a singular manner.
But what about Caiaphas—and Pilate? Their stories occur after the time frame of this book. However, we do know something of their subsequent history. According to traditional telling, Jesus was crucified in 30 C.E. I believe this terrible event occurred between 33 and 36 C.E. The year 36 C.E. was of tremendous importance in the lives of these powerful but not lovable men. Caiaphas was stripped of his status as High Priest, although the reasons are not entirely clear. Pilate, ruthless as ever, ordered a violent attack on the Samaritans at their sanctuary on Mt. Gerizim. Thousands were slaughtered and shrines destroyed, all without any apparent authority. This terrible event was reported to Rome, Pilate was stripped of his position as Prefect (governor) of Judaea, ordered to return to Rome and more or less disappears from history.