(2:46) who realize that ultimately they will have to meet their Lord and that to Him they are destined to return.
61. This means that Prayer is an insufferable encumbrance and affliction for the man who tends not to want to obey God and to believe in the Afterlife. For the man who, of his own violation, has to stand before God after death, it is failure to perform the Prayer, rather than its performance, that becomes intolerable.
(2:47) Children of Israel! Recall My favors which I bestowed upon you, exalting you
above all nations.©
62. This refers to that period of human history when, of all nations, only the Children of Israel possessed that knowledge of Truth that comes from God alone. At that time they were entrusted with the task of directing the nations of the world to righteousness; they were expected to serve God and to invite the rest of the world to do the same.
(2:48) Fear the Day when no one shall avail another when no intercession will be
accepted when no one will be ransomed, and no criminal will receive any help.%
63. A major reason for the degeneration of the Israelites was the corruption of their beliefs about the After that since they were related to those venerable saints and pious men who had dedicated themselves entirely to the service of God in the past, they, would be forgiven by the grace of those great men. They believed that once they had bound themselves firmly to those men of God, it would become impossible for God to punish them. Such false reliance made them negligent of true religious piety and enmeshed them in a life of sin and wickedness. Hence, as well as reminding the Children of Israel of God’s favor upon them, it was necessary to refute all the false ideas which they cherished.
(2:49) And recall when We rescued you from the slavery of Pharaoh’s people who had afflicted you with dreadful suffering, slaying your males and sparing your females. That was a tremendous trial for you from your Lord.
64. From here on, through the several sections that follow, reference is made to the best
65. We have rendered ‘AI Fir’aown’ as ‘Pharaoh’s people. This includes the members of the Pharaonic family as well as the aristocracy of Egypt.
66. The test was whether they would emerge from the crucible of persecution as pure gold,
or as mere dross. The test also lay, in whether or not, after their miraculous deliverance from so great a calamity, they would become grateful servants of God.
(2:50) And recall when We split the sea, providing passage for you, and thus saved you and caused Pharaoh’s people to drown before your very eyes.
(2:51) And recall when We summoned Moses for a term of forty nights, and then you set up the calf as your god in his absence. You indeed committed a grave wrong.
67. When the Israelites reached the Sinai peninsula after their exodus from Egypt, God summoned Moses to the mountain for forty days and nights so that the nation which had now achieved independence could be taught law and morality. (See Exodus 24-31.)
68. The cult of cow-worship was widespread among Israel’s neighbors. It was particularly common in Egypt and Canaan. After the time of Joseph, when the Israelites fell prey to degeneracy and became the slaves of the Copts, they were contaminated by many of the corrupt practices prevalent among their rulers. Cow-worship was one of them. (There is a detailed account of the episode of calf-worship in Exodus 32.) 345
(2:52) Yet We pardoned you that you might be grateful.
(2:53) And recall (that while you were committing this wrong) We gave Moses the
Scripture® and the Criterion that you are guided to the Right Way.
69. ‘Criterion’ here means that understanding of religion which differentiates truth from falsehood, making each stand out distinctly.
(2:54) And recall when (on returning with this favor) Moses said to his people: “My people! You have wronged yourselves by taking the calf for an object of worship, so turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves.2This will be best for you in your Creator’s sight.” Thereupon He accepted your repentance. Indeed He is Much-Relenting, Most Compassionate.
70. That is, they should put to death those of their own number who made the calf an object of worship and actually worshipped it.
(2:55) And recall when you said: “O Moses, we will not believe in you until we clearly see Allah (speaking to you).” Thereupon a tremendous thunderbolt struck you before your very eyes.
(2:56) Then We revived you after your extinction, that you might be grateful.2
71. The incident referred to here is the following. When Moses went to the mountain he had been ordered to bring with him seventy elders of Israel. Later, when God bestowed upon Moses the Book and the Criterion, he presented them to the people. Some mischief-makers, according to the Qur’an, began to complain that they could not believe in something just because Moses claimed that God had spoken to him. This invited the wrath of God and they were punished. The Old Testament, however, has the following account:
‘And they saw the God of Israel and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank (Exodus 24: 10-11),Interestingly, it is stated later in the same book that when Moses requested God to show him His glory, God rejected the request and said: ‘You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live’. (See Exodus 33: 18-23)
(2:57) And We caused a cloud to comfort you with shade,2 and We sent down upon you manna and the quails,2(saying): “Eat of the good wherewithal that We have provided you as sustenance.” And by their sinning (your forefathers) did not wrong Us: it is they themselves whom they wronged.
72. That is, God provided them with shade from clouds in the Sinai peninsula where there was no shelter from the heat of the sun. It should be remembered that the Israelites had left Egypt in their hundreds of thousands. In Sinai, there were not even any tents in which they could shelter, never mind proper houses. But for the fact that God by His grace kept the sky, overcast for a considerable period, these people would have been scorched to death by the heat of the sun.
73. Man o Salwa (Manna and quails) constituted the natural food that was continually made available to them throughout the forty years of their wandering in the Sinai desert. Manna was like coriander seed. When the dew fell in the night, manna fell with it from above. By God’s grace, the quails were made available so plentifully that the entire nation was able to live on them alone and so escaped starvation. (For details regarding manna and quails see Exodus 16; Numbers 11: 7-9 and 31-2; Joshua 5: 12)
(2:58) And recall when We said: “Go into this town and eat abundantly of its food, but enter the gate prostrate, saying, “Repentance” .2We will forgive you your sins and shall bestow more favors on the doers of good.”
74. It has not yet been possible to arrive at any conclusion about the identity of the locality mentioned here. The series of events in the context of which God’s command to enter the city is mentioned belong to the period of the exodus of the Children of Israel in the Sinai peninsula. It is therefore probable that the place mentioned in this verse is some Sinaitic city.
Another plausible suggestion is that it is Shattim, which was located opposite Jericho on the
eastern bank of the river Jordan. According to the Bible, the Israelites conquered this town during the last years of the life of Moses. After the conquest, the Israelites became so decadent that God smote them with a plague from which twenty-four thousand died (Numbers 25: 1-9).
75. God’s command was to enter the city not with the arrogance of tyrannical conquerors, but with the humility of men of God (in the manner in which the Prophet would later enter Makka at the time of its conquest).
As for ‘hit ‘ tah’, it could either mean that when they entered the town they should seek God’s pardon for their sins or that instead of plundering and massacring people in the wake of their conquest, they should proclaim an amnesty.
(2:59) Then the wrong-doers substituted another saying for that which had been given
them; and so We sent down a scourge upon the wrong-doers from the heavens for their transgression.
(2:60) And recall when Moses prayed for water for his people and We replied: “Strike the rock with your staff.” And there gushed out from it twelve springs and each tribe knew its drinking-place. (Then you were directed): “Eat and drink of the sustenance provided by Allah, and do not go about acting wickedly on earth, spreading mischief.”
76. That rock can still be seen in the Sinai Peninsula with the twelve holes of the springs. Twelve springs were caused to flow for the Israelites in order to avoid water disputes among their twelve clans.