10 of History's Most Notorious Traitors

Judas Iscariot
An illustration from a mid-19th century print showing Judas bestowing the betrayer's kiss on Jesus while Roman soldiers look on. © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver, and his name has been synonymous with greedy treachery ever since.

Judas was one of Jesus' 12 apostles and the account of Judas' traitorous act is recorded in the Bible's canonical gospels, which are Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Matthew 26:14-16 (KJV) reads, "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of sliver."

Jesus was targeted by the chief priests, and Judas betrayed him with a kiss. The kiss wasn't a sign of affection; it was actually a signal to awaiting soldiers who immediately arrested Jesus and led him to the high priests. Jesus was accused of blasphemy, found guilty, bound and delivered to Pontius Pilate, the governor, who sentenced him to death. Soldiers stripped Jesus, placed a crown of thorns upon his head and crucified him by nailing him to a cross. Judas was so filled with remorse that he attempted to return the silver, but the priests wouldn't accept it. In the end, Judas hung himself.

Little else is known about Judas' life. Some historians believe Judas' last name, Iscariot, is closely linked to the Latin word for murderer -- sicarius -- and may not really be his family name at all [sources: Biography, Jesus Central]. In any case, "Judas" remains another word for "traitor" even today.