The Story of Musa and Fir`awn, and how the Children of Israel were saved

Allah tells us, `before these idolators, We tested the people of Fir`awn, the copts of Egypt.’

وَجَآءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ كَرِيمٌ

(when there came to them a noble Messenger.) means, Musa, peace be upon him, the one to whom Allah spoke.

أَنْ أَدُّواْ إِلَىَّ عِبَادَ اللَّهِ

(Deliver to me the servants of Allah.) This is like the Ayah:

فَأَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ وَلاَ تُعَذِّبْهُمْ قَدْ جِئْنَـكَ بِـَايَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَالسَّلَـمُ عَلَى مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الْهُدَى

(So let the Children of Israel go with us, and torment them not; indeed, we have come with a sign from your Lord! And peace will be upon him who follows the guidance!”) (20:47)

إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ

(Verily, I am to you a Messenger worthy of all trust.) means, `what I convey to you is trustworthy.’

وَأَن لاَّ تَعْلُواْ عَلَى اللَّهِ

(And exalt not yourselves against Allah.) means, `and do not be too arrogant to follow His signs. Accept His proof and believe in His evidence.’ This is like the Ayah:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِى سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَخِرِينَ

(Verily, those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!) (40:60)

إِنِّى ءَاتِيكُمْ بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

(Truly, I have come to you with a manifest authority.) means, with clear and obvious proof. This refers to the clear signs and definitive evidence with which Allah sent him.

وَإِنِّى عُذْتُ بِرَبِّى وَرَبِّكُمْ أَن تَرْجُمُونِ

(And truly, I seek refuge with my Lord and your Lord, lest you should stone me.) Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and Abu Salih said, “This refers to a verbal assault, which means insults.” Qatadah said, “Meaning `stoning’ in the literal sense, so that the meaning is: `I seek refuge with Allah, Who created me and you, from your making any harmful words or actions reach me.”‘

وَإِن لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُواْ لِى فَاعْتَزِلُونِ

(But if you believe me not, then keep away from me and leave me alone.) means, `then let us leave one another alone and live in peace until Allah judges between us.’ After Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, had stayed among them for a long time, and the proof of Allah had been established against them, and that only increased them in disbelief and stubbornness, he prayed to his Lord against them, a prayer which was answered. Allah says:

وَقَالَ مُوسَى رَبَّنَآ إِنَّكَ ءاتَيْتَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلاّهُ زِينَةً وَأَمْوَالاً فِى الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا رَبَّنَا لِيُضِلُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِكَ رَبَّنَا اطْمِسْ عَلَى أَمْوَلِهِمْ وَاشْدُدْ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُواْ حَتَّى يَرَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ الاٌّلِيمَ قَالَ قَدْ أُجِيبَتْ دَّعْوَتُكُمَا فَاسْتَقِيمَا

(And Musa said: “Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Fir`awn and his chiefs splendor and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.” Allah said: “Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted. So you both keep to the straight way.”) (10:88-89) And Allah says here:

فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنَّ هَـؤُلاَءِ قَوْمٌ مُّجْرِمُونَ

(So he (Musa) called upon his Lord (saying): “These are indeed the people who are criminals.”) Whereupon Allah commanded him to bring the Children of Israel out from among them, without the command, consent or permission of Fir`awn. Allah said:

فَأَسْرِ بِعِبَادِى لَيْلاً إِنَّكُم مُّتَّبَعُونَ

(Depart you with My servants by night. Surely, you will be pursued.) This is like the Ayah:

وَلَقَدْ أَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَى مُوسَى أَنْ أَسْرِ بِعِبَادِى فَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ طَرِيقاً فِى الْبَحْرِ يَبَساً لاَّ تَخَافُ دَرَكاً وَلاَ تَخْشَى

And indeed We revealed to Mu0sa0 (saying): Travel by night with My servants and strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken nor being afraid (of drowning in the sea). )20:77(

وَاتْرُكِ الْبَحْرَ رَهْواً إِنَّهُمْ جُندٌ مُّغْرَقُونَ

(And leave the sea as it is (quiet and divided). Verily, they are a host to be drowned.) When Musa and the Children of Israel has crossed the sea, Musa wanted to strike it with his staff so that it would go back as it had been, and it would form a barrier between then and Fir`awn and prevent him from reaching them. But Allah commanded him to leave it as it was, quiet and divided, and gave him the glad tidings that they were a host to be drowned, and that he should not fear either being overtaken by Fir`awn or drowning in the sea. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

وَاتْرُكِ الْبَحْرَ رَهْواً

(And leave the sea as it is (quiet and divided).) means, leave it as it is and keep moving. Mujahid said:


(as it is) means, a dry path, as it is. `Do not command it to go back; leave it until the last of them have entered it.’ This was also the view of `Ikrimah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd, Ka`b Al-Ahbar, Simak bin Harb and others.

كَمْ تَرَكُواْ مِن جَنَّـتٍ وَعُيُونٍ وَزُرُوعٍ

(How many of gardens and springs that they left behind. And green crops) this refers to rivers and wells.

وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ

and goodly places, means, fine dwellings and beautiful places. Muja0hid and Sa 0d bin Jubayr said:

وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ

(and goodly places,) means elevated places.

وَنَعْمَةٍ كَانُواْ فِيهَا فَـكِهِينَ

(And comforts of life wherein they used to take delight!) means, a life which they were enjoying, where they could eat whatever they wanted and wear what they liked, with wealth and glory and power in the land. Then all of that was taken away in a single morning, they departed from this world and went to Hell, what a terrible abode!

كَذَلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَـهَا قَوْماً ءَاخَرِينَ

(Thus (it was)! And We made other people inherit them.) namely the Children of Israel.

فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَآءُ وَالاٌّرْضُ

(And the heavens and the earth wept not for them, ) means, they had no righteous deeds which used to ascend through the gates of the heavens, which would weep for them when they died, and they had no places on earth where they used to worship Allah which would notice their loss. So they did not deserve to be given a respite, because of their disbelief, sin, transgression and stubbornness. Ibn Jarir recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said, “A man came to Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and said to him: `O Abu Al-`Abbas, Allah says,

فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَآءُ وَالاٌّرْضُ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُنظَرِينَ

(And the heavens and the earth wept not for them, nor were they given respite) — do the heavens and the earth weep for anybody’ He, may Allah be pleased with him, said, `Yes, there is no one who does not have a gate in the heavens through which his provision comes down and his good deeds ascend. When the believer dies, that gate is closed; it misses him and weeps for him, and the place of prayer on earth where he used to pray and remember Allah also weeps for him. But the people of Fir`awn left no trace of righteousness on the earth and they had no good deeds that ascended to Allah, so the heavens and the earth did not weep for them.”‘ Al-`Awfi reported something similar from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him.

وَلَقَدْ نَجَّيْنَا بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ – مِن فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَالِياً مِّنَ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

(And indeed We saved the Children of Israel from the humiliating torment from Fir`awn; verily, he was arrogant and was of the excessive. ) Here Allah reminds them of how He saved them from their humiliation and subjugation at the hands of Fir`awn, when they were forced to do menial tasks.

مِن فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَالِياً

(From Fir`awn; verily, he was arrogant) means, he was proud and stubborn. This is like the Ayah:

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلاَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ

(Verily, Fir`awn exalted himself in the land) (28:4).

فَاسْتَكْبَرُواْ وَكَانُواْ قَوْماً عَـلِينَ

(but they behaved insolently and they were people self-exalting) (23:46). He was one of the excessive and held a foolish opinion of himself.

وَلَقَدِ اخْتَرْنَـهُمْ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عَلَى الْعَـلَمِينَ

(And We chose them above the nations (Al-`Alamin) with knowledge,) Mujahid said, “This means that they were chosen above those among whom they lived.” Qatadah said, “They were chosen above the other people of their own time, and it was said that in every period there are people who are chosen above others.” This is like the Ayah:

قَالَ يَمُوسَى إِنْى اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ

((Allah) said: “O Musa I have chosen you above men.”) (7:144), which means, above the people of his time. This is also like the Ayah:

وَاصْطَفَـكِ عَلَى نِسَآءِ الْعَـلَمِينَ

(and (Allah has) chosen you (Maryam) above the women of the nations (Al-`Alamin).) (3:42), i.e., Maryam was chosen above the women of her time. For Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, is higher than her in status or is equal to her, as was Asiyah bint Muzahim, the wife of Fir`awn. And the superiority of `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, over all other women is like the superiority of Tharid over all other dishes.

وَءَاتَيْنَـهُم مِّنَ الاٌّيَـتِ

(And granted them signs) means clear proofs and extraordinary evidence.

مَا فِيهِ بَلَؤٌاْ مُّبِينٌ

(in which there was a plain trial.) means, an obvious test to show who would be guided by it.

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