And he kneeled down
It seems as if he stood before while they were stoning him, and while he was commending his soul to Christ, but now he kneeled down; prayer may be performed either kneeling or standing:
and cried with a loud voice;
not only to show that he was in good spirits, and not afraid to die, but chiefly to express his vehement and affectionate desire to have the following petition granted:
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge:
do not impute it to them, or place it to their account; let it not rise and stand in judgment against them, or they be condemned for it; grant them forgiveness for it, and for every other sin: there is a great deal of likeness between Christ and this first martyr of his at their deaths; Christ committed his Spirit into the hands of his Father, and Stephen commits his into the hands of Christ; both prayed for forgiveness for their enemies; and both cried with a loud voice before they expired; for so it follows here,
and when he had said this, he fell asleep;
or died; for death, especially the death of the saints, or dying in Jesus, is expressed by sleep. This way of speaking is common with the Jews, who say F20, that Rabbi such an one (Kymd) , "slept"; i.e. "died"; and this they say is a pure and honourable way of speaking with respect to an holy body, whose death is no other than as it were a sleep: and elsewhere
F20 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 11. 1. T. Hieros. Sota, fol. 23. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 42. 3. & Horayot, fol. 483.
F21 Bereshit Rabba. sect. 91. fol. 79. 3. & Mattanot Cehuna in ib. T. Bab. Moed. Katon, fol. 28. 1.