Matthew 27:16
And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
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(16) A notable prisoner, called Barabbas.—There is considerable, though not quite decisive, evidence in favour of the reading which gives “Jesus Barabbas” as the name of the prisoner. The name Bar-abbas (=son of Abbas, or of “a father”), like Bar-timseus and Bartholomew, was a patronymic, and it would be natural enough that the man who bore it should have another more personal name. We can easily understand (1) that the commonness of the name Jesus might lead to his being known to his comrades and to the multitude only or chiefly as Barabbas; and (2) that the reverence which men felt in after years for the Name which is above every name, would lead them to blot out, if it were possible, the traces that it had once been borne by the robber-chief. Of Barabbas St. John (John 18:40) tells us that he was a robber; St. Luke (Luke 23:19) and St. Mark (Mark 15:7) that he had taken a prominent part with some insurgents in the city, and that he, with them, had committed murder in the insurrection. The last recorded tumult of this kind was that mentioned above (Note on Matthew 27:2), as connected with Pilate’s appropriation of the Corban. It is so far probable that this was the tumult in which Barabbas had taken part; and the supposition that he did so has at least the merit of explaining how it was that he came to be the favourite hero both of the priests and people. As the term Abba (=father) was a customary term of honour, as applied to a Rabbi (Matthew 23:9), it is possible that the sobriquet by which he was popularly known commemorated a fact in his family history of which he might naturally be proud. “Jesus, the Rabbi’s son “was a cry that found more favour than “Jesus the Nazarene.”

27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!A notable prisoner - The word "notable" means one that is "distinguished" in any way either for great virtues or great crimes.

In this place it evidently means the latter He was perhaps the leader of a band who had been guilty of sedition, and had committed murder in an insurrection, Luke 23:19.

Mt 27:11-26. Jesus Again before Pilate—He Seeks to Release Him but at Length Delivers Him to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:1-15; Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25; [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:18".

And they had then a notable prisoner,.... The Vulgate Latin reads, "he had"; that is, Pilate, who had committed him to prison, and under whose power he was: for the Jews had lost all authority of this kind, at least in capital cases. This prisoner is called a "notable" one; that is, a famous, or rather an infamous one: he was a thief, and a robber, and had been guilty of sedition; had made, or joined with others in an insurrection, and had committed murder in it; and so, on more accounts than one, was deserving of death: nor could it be otherwise expected by himself, or others, but that he should die: his name was

called Barabbas; that is, as the Syriac version reads it, , which signifies "the son of a father": a father's child that was spoiled and ruined, and a child of his father the devil. This was a name common among the Jews. Frequent mention is made of R. Abba (h), and Bar Abba is the son of Abba: hence we read of Abba Bar Abba (i), and of R. Samuel Bar Abba (k) and of R. Simeon Bar Abba (l), and of R. Chijah Bar Abba (m). In Munster's Hebrew Gospel it is read "Bar Rabbah, the son of a master"; and so Jerom says, that in the Gospel according to the Hebrews it is interpreted, "the son of their master"; but the former is the right name, and the true sense of the word. The Ethiopic version adds, "the prince", or "chief of robbers, and all knew him"; and the Arabic, instead of a "prisoner", reads, a "thief", as he was.

(h) Juchasin, fol. 70. 1, &c. (i) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 18. 2. & Hieros Pesachim, fol. 32. 1. & Juchasin, fol. 104. 1.((k) T. Hieros. Pesachim, fol. 32. 1.((l) T. Hieros. Succa, fol. 53. 3. Juchasin, fol. 105. 1.((m) T. Hieros. Succa, fol, 55. 3. Juchasin, fol. 91. 2.

And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
Matthew 27:16 Εἶχον] The subject is to be found in ὁ ἡγεμών, Matthew 27:15, that is to say: the procurator and his soldiers; for, like Jesus, Barabbas had also to be examined before Pilate before his case could be finally disposed of. He was lying in the prison in the praetorium awaiting execution, after having received sentence of death.

Concerning this robber and murderer Jesus Barabbas (see the critical remarks), nothing further is known. The name Barabbas occurs very frequently even in the Talmud; Lightfoot, p. 489. There is the less reason, therefore, for thinking, with Olshausen, that the characteristic significance of the name בַּר אַבָּא, father’s son (i.e. probably the son of a Rabbi, Matthew 23:9), in close proximity with the person of Jesus, is an illustration of the saying: “Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus.” Still it is possible that the accidental similarity in the name Jesus (see the critical remarks) may have helped to suggest to Pilate the release of Barabbas as an alternative, though, after all, the circumstance that the latter was a most notorious criminal undoubtedly swayed him most. For the baser the criminal, the less would Pilate expect them to demand his release. “But they would sooner have asked the devil himself to be liberated,” Luther’s gloss.

Matthew 27:16. εἶχον: they, the people (ὄχλῳ, Matthew 27:15).—ἐπίσημον: pointing not to the magnitude of his crime, but to the fact that for some reason or other he was an object of popular interest.—Βαραββᾶν, accusative of Βαραββᾶς = son of a father, or with double ρ, and retaining the v at the end, Bar-Rabban = son of a Rabbi. Jerome in his Commentary on Mt. mentions that in the Hebrew Gospel the word was interpreted filius magistri eorum. Origen mentions that in some MSS. this man bore the name Jesus, an identity of name which makes the contrast of character all the more striking. But the reading has little authority.

16. Barabbas] = “Son of a father,” or perhaps, “Son of a Rabbi.” The reading, “Jesus Barabbas” (Matthew 27:17), which appears in some copies, is rightly rejected by the best editors. As Alford remarks, Matthew 27:20 is fatal to the insertion. St Mark and St Luke add that Barabbas had committed murder in the insurrection.

Matthew 27:16. Ἐπίσημον, notorious) A well-known robber, notorious for the gravest crime.[1185] And yet he was preferred to Jesus. How great contempt! Soon after, in the ignominy of punishment, He was preferred to two other robbers.—λεγόμενον Βαραββᾶν, called Barabbas) who was much talked about. It is probable that Barabbas survived long as a monument of the history of Jesus. Barabbas signifies “Song of Solomon of his parent;” he had been longed for, loved, spoiled, by his parent.

[1185] One who was, moreover, guilty of that very crime (treason) of which Jesus was accused; nay, even guilty of a worse crime. However, it was by the death of Him who was the Just One that those very persons, who had deserved death, are set free.—Harm., p. 550.

Verse 16. - They had then a notable prisoner. The plural verb must refer to the multitude, to whose class the man belonged. The Vulgate, with Origen, reads, "he had," habebat, referring to Pilate, whose prisoner he was. The man was notorious; as St. Mark tells us, "He lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, men who had committed murder in the insurrection." We have no account elsewhere of this particular rising, nor of its leader, but such commotions were very common, and under the guise of political aims were utilized for purposes of robbery and assassination. Called Barabbas. The word means "Son of the father," which some explain "Son of a rabbi," which is improbable; and it is a question whether this was his real name, or one applied to him with reference to his pretensions to being "a political anti-Christ" - "a hideous caricature of the true Jesus, the Son of the eternal Father." It is a strange fact that in some (not very trustworthy) manuscripts the name is given as Jesus Barabbas, which affords a remarkable antithesis in Pilate's question in the following verse, "Wilt ye that I release Jesus Barabbas or Jesus called Christ?" There can be no reasonable doubt that the prefix is not genuine, but has crept into some texts inadvertently. Matthew 27:16
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