The word used in the LXX for the sum of money to secure the liberation of a slave (Lev. 25: 47–55). This is the background for the phrase about Jesus in Mark 10: 45b: ‘the Son of Man came to give his life a ransom for many’. Here the thought extends the preceding sentence (45a) that the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. The sufferings of this one man are used by God to bring benefit to others: ‘many’ means ‘all’.
In 4 Macc. 17: 2 ff. the Jewish martyrs are said to have become a ransom for the nation's sins: they suffered on behalf of others—but as representatives, not substitutes. The martyrs represented Israel. There is also a recollection in Mark 10: 45 of Dan. 7, where a Son of Man is vindicated and pronounced the victor. But Mark 10: 45b is to be understood in the light of 45a; victory is achieved only after suffering and service.