on Acts 2 :29
Let me speak freely - of the patriarch David - In Midris Tillin, it is said, in a paraphrase on the words, my flesh shall rest in hope, "Neither worm nor insect had power over David." It is possible that this opinion prevailed in the time of St. Peter, and, if so, his words are the more pointed and forcible; and therefore thus applied by Dr. Lightfoot: "That this passage, Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, etc., is not to be applied to David himself appears in that I may confidently aver concerning him, that he was dead and buried, and never rose again; but his soul was left εις ᾁδου, in the state of the dead, and He saw corruption; for his sepulchre is with us to this day, under that very notion, that it is the sepulchre of David, who died and was there buried; nor is there one syllable mentioned any where of the resurrection of his body, or the return of his soul εξ ᾁδου from the state of the dead." To this the same author adds the following remarkable note: I cannot slip over that passage, Hieros. Chagig. fol. 78: Rab. Jose saith, David died at pentecost, and all Israel bewailed him, and offered their sacrifices the day following. This is a remarkable coincidence; and may be easily applied to him of whom David was a type.
on Acts 2 :29
Men and brethren - This passage of the Psalms Peter now proves could not relate to David, but must have reference to the Messiah. He begins his argument in a respectful manner, addressing them as his brethren, though they had just charged him and the others with intoxication. Christians should use the usual respectful forms of salutation, whatever contempt and reproaches they may meet with from opposers.
Let me freely speak - That is, "It is lawful or proper to speak with boldness, or openly, respecting David." Though he was eminently a pious man, though venerated by us all as a king, yet it is proper to say of him that he is dead, and has returned to corruption. This was a delicate way of expressing high respect for the monarch whom they all honored, and yet evinced boldness in examining a passage of Scripture which probably many supposed to have reference solely to him.
Of the patriarch David - The word "patriarch" properly means "the head or ruler of a family"; and then "the founder of a family, or an illustrious ancestor." It was commonly applied to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by way of eminence, the illustrious founders of the Jewish nation, Hebrews 7:4; Acts 7:8-9. It was also applied to the heads of the families, or the chief men of the tribes of Israel, 1 Chronicles 24:31; 2 Chronicles 19:8, etc. It was thus a title of honor, denoting "high respect." Applied to David, it means that he was the illustrious head or founder of the royal family, and the word is expressive of Peter's intention not to say anything disrespectful of such a king, at the same time that he freely canvassed a passage of Scripture which had been supposed to refer to him.
Dead and buried - The record of that fact they had in the O d Testament. There had been no pretence that he had risen, and therefore the Psalm could not apply to him.
His sepulchre is with us - Is in the city of Jerusalem., Sepulchres wore commonly situated without the walls of cities and the limits of villages. The custom of burying in towns was not commonly practiced. This was true of other ancient nations as well as the Hebrews, and is still in Eastern countries, except in the case of kings and very distinguished men, whose ashes are permitted to rest within the walls of a city: 1 Samuel 28:3, "Samuel was dead ...and Israel ...buried him in Ramah, in his own city"; 2 Kings 21:18, "Manasseh ...was buried in the garden of his own house"; 2 Chronicles 16:14, Asa was buried in the city of David; 2 Kings 14:20. David was buried in the city of David 1 Kings 2:10, with his fathers; that is, on Mount Zion, where he built a city called after his name, 2 Samuel 5:7. Of what form the tombs of the kings were is not certainly known. It is almost certain, however, that they would be constructed in a magnificent manner.
The tombs were commonly excavations from rocks, or natural caves; and sepulchres cut out of the solid rock, of vast extent, are Known to have existed. The following account of the tomb called "the sepulchre of the kings" is abridged from Maundrell: "The approach is through an entrance cut out of a solid rock, which admits you into an open court about 40 paces square, cut down into the rock. On the south side is a portico nine paces long and four broad, hewn likewise out of the solid rock. At the end of the portico is the descent to the sepulchres. The descent is into a room about 7 or 8 yards square, cut out of the natural rock. From this room there are passages into six more, all of the same fabric with the first. In every one of these rooms, except the first, were coffins placed in niches in the sides of the chamber," etc. (Maundrell's Travels). If the tombs of the kings were of this form, it is clear that they were works of great labor and expense.
Probably, also, there were, as there are now, costly and splendid monuments erected to the memory of the mighty dead. The following extract from "The Land and the Book," and cut on the next page (from Williams' Holy City), will illustrate the usual construction of tombs: "The entire system of rooms, niches, and passages may be comprehended at once by an inspection of the plan of the Tombs of the Judges near Jerusalem. The entrance faces the west, and has a vestibule (a) 13 feet by 9. Chamber (B), nearly 20 feet square, and 8 high. The north side is seen in elevation in Fig. 2, and shows two tiers of niches, one over the other, not often met with in tombs. There are seven in the lower tier, each 7 feet long, 20 inches wide, and nearly 3 feet high. The upper tier has three arched recesses, and each recess has two niches. From this room (B) doors lead out into chambers (C and D), which have their own special system of niches, or Ioculi, for the reception of the bodies, as appears on the plan. I have explored scores of sepulchres at Ladakiyeh closely resembling this at Jerusalem, and there are many in the plain and on the hillsides above us here at Sidon of the same general form chambers within chambers, and each with niches for the dead, variously arranged according to taste or necessity."
These tombs are about a mile northwest of Jerusalem. "The tombs which are commonly called the 'Tombs of the Kings' are in an olivegrove about half a mile north of the Damascus Gate, and a few rods east of the great road to Nablus. A court is sunk in the solid rock about 90 feet square and 20 deep. On the west side of this court is a sort of portico, 39 feet long, 17 deep, and 15 high. It was originally ornamented with grapes, garlands, and festoons, beautifully done on the cornice; and the columns in the center, and the pilasters at the corners, appear to have resembled the Corinthian order. A very low door in the south end of the portico opens into the ante-chamber - 19 feet square, and 7 or 8 high. From this three passages conduct into other rooms, two of them, to the south, having five or six crypts. A passage also leads from the west room down several steps into a large vault running north, where are crypts parallel to the sides. These rooms are all cut in rock intensely hard, and the entrances were originally closed with stone doors, made with panels and hung on stone hinges, which are now all broken. The whole series of tombs indicates the hand of royalty and the leisure of years, but by whom and for whom they were made is a mere matter of conjecture. I know no good reason for ascribing them to Helena of Adiabene. Most travelers and writers are inclined to make them the sepulchres of the Asmonean kings" (The Land and the Book, vol. 2, pp. 487, 488). The site of the tomb of David is no longer known.
Unto this day - That the sepulchre of David was well known and honored is clear from Josephus (Antiq., book 7, chapter 15, section 3): "He (David) was buried by his son Solomon in Jerusalem with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomps with which kings used to be buried. Moreover, he had immense wealth buried with him: for one thousand and three hundred years afterward Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, and was desirous of giving him money to raise the siege, opened one room of David's sepulchre and took out three thousand talents. Herod, many years afterward, opened another room, and took away a great deal of money," etc. See also Antiq., book 13, chapter 8, section 4. The tomb of a monarch like David would be well known and had in reverence. Peter might, then, confidently appeal to their own belief and knowledge that David had not been raised from the dead. No Jew believed or supposed it. All, by their care of his sepulchre, and by the honor with which they regarded his grave, believed that he had returned to corruption. The Psalm, therefore, could not apply to him.
on Acts 2 :29
2:29 The patriarch - A more honourable title than king.