Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let me freely speak.—Better, it is lawful for me to speak with freedom. Those to whom the Apostle spoke could not for a moment dream of asserting that the words quoted had been literally and completely fulfilled in him, and it was therefore natural to look for their fulfilment elsewhere.
Of the patriarch David.—The word is used in its primary sense, as meaning the founder of a family or dynasty. In the New Testament it is applied also to Abraham (Hebrews 7:4) and the twelve sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8). In the Greek version of the Old Testament it is used only of the comparatively subordinate “chief of the fathers” in 1Chronicles 9:9; 1Chronicles 24:31, et al.
His sepulchre is with us unto this day.—The king was buried in the city which bore his name (1Kings 2:10). Josephus relates that vast treasures were buried with him (Ant. vii. 15, § 4), and that John Hyrcanus opened one of the chambers of the tomb, and took out three thousand talents to pay the tribute demanded by Antiochus the Pious (Ant. xiii. 8, § 4). Herod the Great also opened it and found no money, but gold and silver vessels in abundance. The tradition was that he sought to penetrate into the inner vault, in which the bodies of David and Solomon were resting, and was deterred by a flame that issued from the recess (Ant. xvi. 7, § 1). It is difficult to understand how such a treasure could have escaped the plunderer in all the sieges and sacks to which Jerusalem had been exposed; but it is possible that its fame as a holy place may have made it, like the temples at Delphi and Ephesus, a kind of bank of deposit, in which large treasures in coin or plate were left for safety, and many of these, in the common course of things, were never claimed, and gradually accumulated. The monuments now known as the “tombs of the kings” on the north side of the city, though identified by De Sauley with the sepulchres of the house of David, are of the Roman period, and are outside the walls. David and his successors were probably buried in a vault on the eastern hill, in the city of David (1Kings 2:10), within the range of the enclosure now known as the Haram Area.Acts 2:29-31. Men and brethren — Thus he addresses himself to them, with a title of respect; let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David — Let it be no offence to you, if I tell you that David cannot be understood here as speaking of himself, but of the Messiah to come. David is here called a patriarch, a more honourable title than king, because he was the father of the royal family, and a man of great note and eminence in his generation; that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us — And as no one ever pretended that he had risen, therefore he could not say of himself, that he should not see, or suffer corruption; it being evident he did suffer it. St. Paul urges this same argument, chap. Acts 13:35-37. Therefore, being a prophet, &c. — He therefore spoke it as a prophet, with an eye to the Messiah, to whose sufferings the prophets bore testimony beforehand, as also to the glory that should follow; knowing that God had sworn with an oath — In a special revelation from heaven; that of the fruit of his loins — Or, out of his descendants; he would raise up Christ — That is, the promised Messiah; to sit on his throne — That is, promised him a son; the throne of whose kingdom should be established for ever, 2 Samuel 7:12. He seeing this before — With a firm reliance on the faithfulness of God, spake of the resurrection of Christ in the words just now repeated; not meaning them of himself, or intending they should be taken in any lower sense. But how does that promise of a kingdom imply Christ’s resurrection? Because he did not receive it before he died, and because his kingdom was to endure for ever, 2 Samuel 7:13.
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.Men and brethren; St. Peter bespeaks this attention and favour, intimating he was one of the same nation with themselves, than which nothing could more recommend him. David was had in great veneration, and his memory very precious amongst this people, as was Abraham’s, Isaac’s, and Jacob’s; who were the chief of their fathers.
He is both dead and buried; as in 1 Kings 2:10, and elsewhere, is recorded of him, which they firmly believed.
His sepulchre, or monument, is with us; either not wholly spoiled by the barbarous enemies, who had destroyed Jerusalem; or rather repaired after the captivity, to keep up the memory of so great and good a man. But by this it appeared, that David did not speak these things concerning himself, who must needs have seen corruption, (themselves being witnesses), for on that account they respected his tomb, as being the repository of his ashes.
of the patriarch David; who was a "head of the fathers", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; a prince of the tribes of Israel; one of the greatest kings the tribes of Israel ever had; and therefore this name well becomes him; though it is more commonly given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the heads of the twelve tribes:
that he is both dead, and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day; it is a plain case, and a certain matter of fact, which nobody disputes or denies, that David really died, and was laid in the grave, and that his monument, or tomb, was still extant, so that he was not risen from the dead; and therefore the above citation could not respect him, but another, even the Messiah, and had been literally fulfilled in Jesus. The Jews say (z), that David died on the day of Pentecost; which was the very day on which Peter was now preaching; he was buried in Jerusalem, and his sepulchral monument was in being when Peter said these words. And Josephus relates (a), that the sepulchre of David was opened by Hyrcanus, who took out of it three thousand talents; and that it was afterwards opened by Herod (b): which, if true, may serve to render credible what Peter says concerning its continuance to that day. Though it may be questioned whether any such treasure was ever in it, or taken out of it; and still less credible is the account which R. Benjamin (c) gives of two men in his time, who, under the wall of Zion, found a cave, which led them to a large palace built on pillars of marble, and covered with gold and silver; and within it was a table, and a golden sceptre, and a crown of gold; and this, says the author, was the sepulchre of David, king of Israel,Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 2:29. Μετὰ παῤῥησίας] frankly and freely, without reserve; for the main object was to show off a passage honouring David, that it had received fulfilment in a higher and prophetical sense in another. Bengel well remarks: “Est igitur hoc loco προθεραπεία, praevia sermonis mitigatio.”
David is called ὁ πατριάρχης as the celebrated ancestor of the kingly family, from which the nation expected their Messiah.
ὅτι] that (not for). Peter wishes to say of David what is notorious, and what it is allowable for him to say on account of this very notoriety; therefore with ἐξόν there is not to be supplied, as is usually done, ἔστω, but ἐστί (ἔξεστι).
ἐν ἡμῖν] David was buried at Jerusalem. Nehemiah 3:16; Joseph. Antt. vii. 15. 3, xiii. 8. 4, Bell. Jud. i. 2. 5. In τὸ μνῆμα αὐτοῦ, his sepulcher, there is involved, according to the context, as self-evident: “cum ipso Davidis corpore corrupto; molliter loquitur,” Bengel.
Acts 2:29-31. Proof that David in this passage of his Psalm has prophetically made known the resurrection of Christ.Acts 2:29. ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί: an affectionate form of address as compared with Acts 2:14; Acts 2:22 (cf. Acts 7:2, Acts 22:1), but still much more formal than Acts 3:17, where we have ἀδελφοί alone in St. Peter’s pity for those who crucifying the Saviour knew not what they did.—ἐξὸν, sc., ἐστι (with infinitive), cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4, only in N.T. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 200 (1893), cf. LXX Esther 4:2; 4Ma 5:18; not “may I speak unto you,” but “I may say unto you,” R.V., not = ἔστω, but ἐστί (ἔξεστι), Wendt, in loco.—μετὰ παρρησίας: on the phrase, see below, Acts 4:13, and its repeated use by St. Luke; cf. Hebrews 4:16; Lat., cum fiducia, Westcott, Hebrews, p. 108. In the LXX the phrase is found, Leviticus 26:13, Esther 8:12, 1Ma 4:18, 3Ma 4:1; 3Ma 7:12. St. Peter will first of all state facts which cannot be denied, before he proceeds to show how the words used of David are fulfilled in “great David’s greater Son”. He speaks of David in terms which indicate his respect for his name and memory, and as Bengel well says, “est igitur hoc loco προθεραπεία, prævia sermonis mitigatio” (“est hæc προθερ. ut aiunt rhetores,” Blass, in loco).—τοῦ πατριάρχου, the name is emphatically used in the N.T. of Abraham; cf. Hebrews 7:4 (properly the ἄρχων (auctor), πατριᾶς), and of the sons of Jacob, Acts 7:8-9, and cf. 4Ma 7:19, used of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the LXX it is used of the “heads of the fathers’ houses,” 1 Chronicles 9:9; 1 Chronicles 24:31, in a comparatively lower sense. Here used, as a term of high honour, of David, regarded as the ancestor of the kingly race. See on the word and its formation, Kennedy, Sources of New Testament Greek, p. 114.—ὅτι καὶ ἐτελεύτησε καὶ ἐτάφη: “that he both died and was buried,” R.V. St. Peter states notorious facts, and refers to them in a way which could not wound the susceptibilities of his hearers, whilst he shows them that David’s words were not exhausted in his own case. The argument is practically the same as that of St. Paul in Acts 13:36 from the same Psalm.—καὶ τὸ μνῆμα αὐτοῦ ἐστιν ἐν ἡμῖν, i.e., in Jerusalem, the mention of the tomb emphasises the fact and certainty of the death of David, and implies that his body had seen corruption. That David’s tomb was shown in the time of Nehemiah we know from Nehemiah 3:16. From Jos., Ant., vii., 15, 3; xiii., 8, 4; B. J., i., 2, 5, we learn that Solomon had buried a large treasure in the tomb, and that on that account one of its chambers had been broken open by Hyrcanus, and another by Herod the Great. According to Jos., Ant., xvi., 7, 1, Herod, not content with rifling the tomb, desired to penetrate further, even as far as the bodies of David and Solomon, but a flame burst forth and slew two of his guards, and the king fled. To this attempt the Jewish historian attributed the growing troubles in Herod’s family. In the time of Hadrian the tomb is said to have fallen into ruins. Whatever its exact site, it must have been within the walls, and therefore could not correspond with the so called “tombs of the kings” which De Saulcy identified with it. Those tombs are outside the walls, and are of the Roman period (Schürer, Jewish People, div. i., vol. i., p. 276, E.T., “David,” B.D.2). Wetstein, in loco, quotes the testimony of Maundrell as to the sepulchres of David and his family being the only sepulchres within the walls. St. Jerome, Epist., xlvi., writing to Marcella, expresses a hope that they might pray together in the mausoleum of David; so that at the end of the fourth century tradition must still have claimed to mark the spot.29. Here the Apostle begins his argument from the words of David, and at the outset speaks to his hearers as brethren.
Men and brethren] See on Acts 1:16.
let me freely speak] Better (with the margin), I may freely say unto you of the patriarch David that he both died and was burled, i.e. none of you will contradict such a statement. As St Paul using the same argument (Acts 13:36), “David after he had served his own generation fell on sleep and was laid unto his fathers.”
and his sepulchre is with us] thus shewing that after death he did not rise again. The sepulchre of the House of David was a famous object in the Holy City. Among the marvels of Jerusalem mentioned in the Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan (c. 35), we are told, “There are no graves made in Jerusalem except the tombs of the house of David and of Huldah the Prophetess, which have been there from the days of the first prophets.”
On the burial of David in Zion, cp. 1 Kings 2:10 with 2 Samuel 5:7.Acts 2:29. Ἐξὸν) viz. ἔστω, let it be allowed to me. The neuter is frequently without a verb. The ellipsis in this place is expressive of ἦθος.—μετὰ παῤῥησίας, freely) The Jews held David in high estimation: and it was of him that he had to say something not altogether favourable, in order that thereby the glory of Christ might be the more enhanced. There is therefore in this passage a πσοθεραπεία [see Append.], or previous mitigation of what he is about to say.—ΠΑΤΡΙΆΡΧΟΥ, the patriarch) This name is one of greater dignity than the name, ‘king.’ This, too, produces the effect of προθεραπεία.—τὸ μνῆμα αὐτοῦ, his sepulchre) and that sepulchre containing the very body of David, which saw corruption. He speaks gently. ἐν ἡμῖν, among us) The monuments, places, institutions, manners, families, and adages of the Israelites, marvellously accorded with the Scripture of the Old Testament. So too the New Testament books accord with the state of events which followed subsequently.
 See Append. on “Moratus Sermo.” Here, the feeling of modesty and courtesy.—E. and T.Verse 29. - Brethren for men and brethren, A.V.; I may say unto you freely for let me freely speak unto you, A.V.; both died and was buried for is both dead and buried, A.V.; tomb for sepulcher, A.V. Brethren; literally, men who are my brethren. Observe how gentle and conciliatory the apostle's language is; how exactly in accordance with his own precept (1 Peter 3:8, 9), "Not rendering railing for railing," etc. In addressing them as brethren, he silently claims the good will and fairness due to one who was a brother in blood and in the faith of the God of Israel. The patriarch David. The term patriarch is elsewhere in Scripture applied only to Abraham and the twelve sons of Jacob (Hebrews 7:4; Acts 7:8, 9). It is a title of dignity, signifying the head of a house. It seems to be here applied to David, because he is spoken of as head of the family from which Christ sprang. Abraham was the head of the whole Hebrew race: "Abraham our father." The twelve patriarchs were the heads of their respective tribes. The LXX. use the word πατριάρχης as the rendering of רֹאושׁ הָאָבות "chief of the fathers' houses" (1 Chronicles 24:31; 2 Chronicles 19:8; 2 Chronicles 26:12); which they elsewhere render by ἄρχων, or ἀρχὴ πατριᾶς (Exodus 6:25, etc.). In common parlance, the term is also applied to those chief persons who lived before the time of Moses, and have their record in his books. His tomb is with us, etc. Josephus speaks of David's tomb (calling it, as St. Peter here does, his μνῆμα) as consisting of several chambers, and relates how one of these chambers was opened by the high priest Hyrcanus, who took from it three thousand talents of gold to give to Antiochus Pins, who was at that time laying siege to Jerusalem. He adds that another chamber was opened later by King Herod, who abstracted a great quantity of golden ornaments from it; but that neither of them penetrated to the vaults where the bodies of David and Solomon were deposited, because the entrance to them was so carefully concealed. He further mentions that Herod, having been terrified by the bursting out of flames, which stopped his further progress, built a most costly marble monument at the entrance of the tomb ('Jud. Ant.,' 7. 15:3; 13. 8:4; 16. 7:1). For the sense, supply "and therefore he could not be speaking of himself." The explanation follows that he was a prophet, etc.
Lit., it is permitted me. Rev., I may. It is allowable for him to speak, because the facts are notorious.
Freely (μετὰ παῤῥησίας)
Lit., with freedom. The latter word from πᾶν, all, and ῥῆσις, speech; speaking everything, and therefore without reserve.
The patriarch (πατριάρχου)
From ἄρχω, to begin, and πατριά, a pedigree. Applied to David as the father of the royal family from which the Messiah sprang. It is used in the New Testament of Abraham (Hebrews 7:4), and of the sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8).
He is dead and buried (ἐτελεύτησε καὶ ἐτάφη)
Aorists, denoting what occurred at a definite past time. Rev., rightly, he both died and was buried.
His sepulchre is with us
Or among us (ἐν ἡμῖν). On Mount Zion, where most of the Jewish kings were interred in the same tomb.
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