Why are unclaimed bodies buried in a “potter’s field?”
It’s a standard, heart-grabbing feature story that every newspaper and TV news program runs once in awhile: some poor soul has come to a sad end, dying alone with no relatives or friends to claim the body for a proper burial. At that point the local government steps in to bury the unknown person in a “potter’s field.” But nobody ever explains how this sad place came to have such a strange name.
Its source is The New Testament, Matthew 27:7. After Judas betrayed Jesus he felt guilty and threw away his 30 pieces of silver. The Priests picked up the money in the Temple and spent it to buy land from the potter to provide burial plots for those who needed them. Eventually any municipal cemetery for unclaimed bodies came to be called a potter’s field.