Christian soteriology works on the assumption that Jesus’ death was a unique saving event. The only real antecedent considered is the suffering of Isaiah’s servant, upon whom the Lord has laid “the iniquity of us all”, understood not as referring to a historical figure or community in Isaiah’s world but as a prophecy about Jesus. But the easy presumption of uniqueness is maintained only by suppressing the historical context. Broadly, Jesus’ death can be located in a tradition of righteous suffering under pagan oppression. In particular, Jews at the time—presumably including Jesus himself—would have been familiar with the stories of the Maccabean martyrs.
In 2 Maccabees, which is generally dated to the late second century BC, we are given the story of the gruesome torture and killing of the old man Eleazar, seven brothers, and their mother by the tyrant Antiochus, for refusing to perform an “unlawful sacrifice” and eat the meat of a pig. This is happening because Israel has been unfaithful to the covenant and is being punished by God—sooner rather than later, “in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward, when our sins have reached their height” (2 Macc. 6:15).