(buh rab' uhs) GREEK: BARABBAS
"son of the father/teacher"

All four Gospels describe Pilate's offer to the crowd during the trial of Jesus to free one prisoner - a customary favor bestowed by the Roman governor at the time of the Passover feast. The choice given was Jesus or Barabbas, a man who had been arrested for insurrection and murder and was a notorious prisoner. Urged on by their leaders, the people clamored for Barabbas to be freed and for Jesus to be executed.

Barabbas may have been a leader of the Jewish militants who wanted to throw off the Roman yoke by force. As an insurrectionist, Barabbas would have been sentenced to death by crucifixion as a warning to others. Some ancient manuscripts give Barabbas's first name as Jesus, a not uncommon name of the time. This would have made Pilate's offer even more poignant: "Whom do you want me to release for you (Jesus) Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" (Mt. 27:17).

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}