This is evidenced by the ancient beliefs of the Jews, for their Bible is our Old Testament. Jews long believed that the righteous suffered to atone for the sins of the people.
Orthodox Jewish historian and Rabbi Berel Wein writes,
"…It was an old Jewish tradition dating back to Biblical times that the death of the righteous and innocent served as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world…the death of the righteous as an atonement for the sins of other men."
Wein then quotes a 17th century Jewish work titled Yeven Metzulah, "…For since the day the Holy Temple was destroyed, the righteous are seized by death for the iniquities of the generation…" (quoted from Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 2, p. 155).
Yet this misses the point of Psalm 49:7-8, "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough."
This is why God the Son had to become man to be the sacrificial lamb. Only God in the flesh could pay the sin debt.
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