20 - Ta-Ha

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 20.77

Al-Jalalayn

And verily We revealed to Moses, [saying], ‘Lead My servants on a journey by night (read as an asri, ‘that: lead on a journey by night’, from [fourth form] asrā, ‘he travelled by night’; or read as an’isri, from [first form] sarā, ‘he travelled by night’, both being alternative forms), in other words, travel with them by night from the land of Egypt, and strike for them, make for them, by striking your staff, a dry path in the sea. So he fulfilled what he had been commanded, and God made the ground dry so that they were able to pass through it. Do not fear to be overtaken, that is, [fearing] that Pharaoh might catch you, and do not be afraid’, of drowning.

Ibn Al Kathir

The Children of Israel leave Egypt

Allah, the Exalted, informs that He commanded Musa to journey at night with the Children of Israel, when Fir`awn refused to release them and send them with Musa. He was to take them away from Fir`awn's captivity. Allah expounds upon this in Surahs other than this noble Surah. Musa left with the Children of Israel, and when the people of Egypt awoke in the morning they found that not a single one of them remained in Egypt. Fir`awn became extremely furious. He sent callers into all of the cities to gather together his army from all of his lands and provinces. He said to them,

إِنَّ هَـؤُلاءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلُونَ - وَإِنَّهُمْ لَنَا لَغَآئِظُونَ

(Verily, these indeed are but a small band. And verily, they have done what has enraged us.) 26:54-55Then when he gathered his army and organized his troops, he set out after them and they followed them at dawn when the sun began to rise.

فَلَمَّا تَرَآءَا الْجَمْعَانِ

(And when the two hosts saw each other) 26:61This means that each person of the two parties was looking at the other party.

فَلَمَّا تَرَآءَا الْجَمْعَانِ قَالَ أَصْحَـبُ مُوسَى إِنَّا لَمُدْرَكُونَ - قَالَ كَلاَّ إِنَّ مَعِىَ رَبِّى سَيَهْدِينِ

(The companions of Musa said: "We are sure to be overtaken.'' (Musa) said: "Nay, verily, with me is my Lord. He will guide me.'') 26:61-62Musa stopped with the Children of Israel and the sea was in front of them and Fir`awn was behind them. Then, at that moment, Allah revealed to Musa,

فَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ طَرِيقاً فِى الْبَحْرِ يَبَساً

(And strike a dry path for them in the sea.) So Musa struck the sea with his stick and he said, "Split for me, by the leave of Allah.'' Thus, it split, and each separate part of the water became like a huge mountain. Then, Allah sent a wind to the land of the sea and it burned the soil until it became dry like the ground that is on land. For this reason Allah said,

فَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ طَرِيقاً فِى الْبَحْرِ يَبَساً لاَّ تَخَافُ دَرَكاً

(and strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken...) This means being caught by Fir`awn.

وَلاَ تَخْشَى

(nor being afraid.) meaning, "Do not be afraid of the sea drowning your people.'' Then, Allah, the Exalted, said,

فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ بِجُنُودِهِ فَغَشِيَهُمْ مِّنَ الْيَمِّ

(Then Fir`awn pursued them with his hosts, but the sea Al-Yammcompletely overwhelmed them) Al-Yamm means the sea.

مَا غَشِيَهُمْ

(and covered them up. ) meaning, covered them up with a thing that was well-familiar to them in such a situa- tion, as Allah states;

وَالْمُؤْتَفِكَةَ أَهْوَى - فَغَشَّـهَا مَا غَشَّى

(And He destroyed the overthrown cities. So there covered them that which did cover.) 53:53-54As Fir`awn pursued them into the sea, misled his people and did not lead them to the path of correct guidance, likewise, he will go ahead of his people on the Day of Resurrection, and will lead them in to the Hellfire. And evil indeed is the place to which they are led.

يبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ قَدْ أَنجَيْنَـكُمْ مِّنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ وَوَاعَدْنَـكُمْ جَانِبَ الطُّورِ الاٌّيْمَنَ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَى

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Here the details of the events which happened during the long period of Prophet Moses' stay in Egypt have been omitted. For these please see VII: 130-147, X: 83-92, XL: 23-50 and XLIII: 46-56.

This happened when God at last appointed a night for the exodus of the Israelites and the other Muslims from Egypt. They were asked to gather at a fixed place and set forth as a caravan. Just at the time when they reached the coast of the Red Sea Prom where they had to cross to the Sinai Peninsula, Pharaoh arrived there with a large army in their pursuit. We learn from XXVI: 61 -63 that when they were literally between the devil and the deep sea, Allah commanded Moses to smite the sea with his staff and according to this verse the sea tore asunder and stood like two high walls on both sides, leaving a dry path between them for the caravan to pass. Thus, it is quite clear and plain that it was a miracle, and not the result of a wind storm or tide, for when the water rises in this way it does not remain standing like two high walls, leaving a dry path between them. ( For details see E.N. 47 of Chapter XXVI).

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(And verily We inspired Moses, saying: Take away) lead (My slaves by night) at the beginning of the night (and strike for them) show them (a dry path in the sea, fearing not to be overtaken) by Pharaoh, (neither being afraid (of the sea)) neither being afraid of drowning.