Judas Macbeth

The connection between Judas Iscariot and Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

I’ve been taking a look at the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m no expert. It wasn’t an in-depth look. I did however notice some similarities between the biblical character Judas Iscariot and Shakespeare’s fictional Scottish King.

The first aspect that struck me was that in the actions of both these men there was an element of prophecy. In Judas case, Jesus had predicted his own betrayal by a disciple. Macbeth’s rise and downfall was predicted by three witches, but Macbeth didn’t understand the prophecy of his downfall for what it was. Ultimately it was the flaw in both of these men’s character that became the cause of their downfalls.

In both cases, there was an element of a good man being betrayed by an unscrupulous man. Jesus was a sinless man betrayed by a disciple. King Duncan of Scotland was betrayed and murdered by  Macbeth who usurped his throne. Duncan had been a good and just king. The main difference seems to be that Macbeth did his own dirty work when he murdered King Duncan, Judas didn’t. The Romans crucified Jesus after Judas betrayed him to them.

Macbeth, it seems, could have become the King of Scotland without intervention to hasten his ascension. It was Lady Macbeth who, on hearing the witches prophecy, was led by her greed for power to persuade and manipulate Macbeth to hasten his rise, by murdering King Duncan. Macbeth was too weak to stand up to his wife, but it seems when he tasted power he could not let it go, it had to be taken from him.

Judas’ hunger was not for power but for money. Thirty pieces of his silver was his price for betraying Jesus. We don’t know if Judas betrayal of Christ was on his own initiative, or was he subverted, like Macbeth was by his wife? Judas had no power, only money which eventually his conscience led him to discard. He ultimately committed suicide.


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