(Bar·abʹbas) [son of the father, master or teacher].
The imprisoned criminal guilty of robbery, sedition and murder whom Pilate set free in place of Jesus. Pilate did this, “wishing to satisfy the crowd” who clamored for his release at the insistence of the chief priests and older men. The name Barabbas suggests that he may possibly have been the son of a rabbi or Jewish leader.—Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:16-25; John 18:39, 40; Acts 3:14.
This unique custom of releasing a prisoner on the eve of the Passover every year finds no basis or precedent in the Hebrew Scriptures and little support, if any, in Roman or other pagan practices. However, certain Rabbinical writings indicate that this custom may have been from a Jewish source that predated the Roman occupation of Palestine. This explains why Pilate said to the Jews: “You have a custom that I should release a man to you at the passover.”—John 18:39.