kiss of death

something that causes ruin or destruction
—When the school refused to let us use a classroom for our meetings, it was the kiss of death for our plans to form a new club.

Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, agreed to hand Jesus over to the Jewish authorities in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. The opportunity for his betrayal came in the Garden of Gethsemane. After praying, Jesus said, 

“Look, the hour is approaching, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!”

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”) Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. (Matthew 26:45-49)

This kiss of betrayal has given us the phrase kiss of death. Also, any action that betrays someone can be called a Judas kiss, and the name Judas can be given to “a traitor, especially someone who betrays a friend.”

From kiss of death, we also get kiss of life, meaning “something that revives a business or other kind of project.” Kiss of life (like breath of life, in Genesis) is also a name for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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