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Mark 15:7

ESV And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.
NIV A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.
NASB And the one named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the rebels who had committed murder in the revolt.
CSB There was one named Barabbas, who was in prison with rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion.
NLT One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising.
KJV And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.

What does Mark 15:7 mean?

Not much is known about Barabbas. "Bar" means son or son of. "Abbas" means the father. There is no extra-biblical record of him or what insurrection or murder he may have been involved in. Some scholars think he is an ancient-era version of Robin Hood: one who attacks the rich who destroy the poor Galileans with debt and take their land. Or, it may be that Pilate presents the crowd with Barabbas and Jesus because Barabbas is so vile he doesn't think they'll choose him. But it isn't the crowd that chooses Barabbas, it's the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:20). They convince the crowd to yell for Barabbas' release and Jesus' crucifixion.

Revolts have become a constant in Rome's relationship with the Jews. Since the Jews returned from Babylon, the Jews have had only a few years of independence. At first, the Medo-Persian Empire still ruled. In 333 BC, the Greeks took command, but only ten years later, the Egyptians moved in. In 204 BC, the Syrians took possession, sold the priesthood, and desecrated the Holy of Holies. The Maccabean revolt drove the Syrians out in 165 BC and the Jews continued fighting the Syrians until Rome started its rule in 63 BC. Around the time of Jesus' birth, Judas of Galilee led a resistance against Quirinius' census (Luke 2:1–2).

Shortly after Pilate became procurator or governor over Judea, he allowed Roman soldiers to bring images of Caesar into Jerusalem. In the ensuing confrontation, the Jews proved willing to die rather than give up their demands the images be removed. Pilate took down the standards. But, later he set up shields honoring Tiberius in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem; this was done primarily to irritate the Jews. Tiberius scolded him and told him to take the shields to Caesarea. At some point, Pilate also used temple funds to build an aqueduct. When the inevitable crowd gathered, threatening to riot, Pilate had disguised soldiers attack the Jews with knives and clubs, killing some.

As a result of these gaffes, some scholars believe Pilate was governing on something of a "last-chance agreement." His apparent concern for the mob's demands might have been out of a desire to avoid another riot, which might lead to the loss of his position. In this way, Pilate—like the Sanhedrin—is putting his own interests above those of truth and innocence (John 11:48).

Whatever insurrection Barabbas was a part of, it is just one in a long line that Pilate has endured, and possibly one of many he brought on himself. Pilate has a great deal of experience in knowing where trouble will come from. As such, he knows Jesus isn't one of those places.
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