2 - Al Baqara (The cow)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 2.122

Al-Jalalayn

O Children of Israel, remember My favour wherewith I favoured you, and that I have preferred you over all the worlds: a similar verse has already been mentioned.

Al-Qushairi

O children of Israel remember My favor wherewith I favored you and that I have preferred you over all the worlds. His سبحانه way sunna in His address to the people of Moses عليه السلام is to call them by their proper name saying “O children of Israel remember... ” that is “O children of Jacob.” But He addresses this community [of Muḥammad] honorifically saying “O you who believe...”

Ibn Al Kathir

We mentioned a similar Ayah at the beginning of this Surah, and it is mentioned here to emphisize the importance of following the Ummi Prophet and Messenger, who is described for the People of the Scriptures in their Books by his characteristics, name, the good news about him and the description of his Ummah. Allah warned them against concealing this information, which is among the favors that Allah granted them. Allah also commanded them to remember their daily life and their religious affairs and how He blessed them. They should not envy their cousins, the Arabs, for what Allah has given them, the Final Messenger of Allah being an Arab. Envy should not incite them to oppose or deny the Prophet or refrain from following him, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him until the Day of Judgment.

Kashani

O Children of Israel, remember My favour wherewith I favoured you, and that I have preferred you over all the worlds.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

From here begins a new discourse. In order to understand it, the following should be kept in mind

(1) After Noah, Abraham was the first Prophet who was appointed by Allah to spread the universal Message of Islam. He began his mission in his own country, 'Iraq, and invited the people to Islam (submission to Allah). Then he visited Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arabia with the same mission. Afterwards he appointed his deputies in different places. He deputed Lot, his nephew, to Trans-Jordan, Isaac, his son, to Syria and Palestine, and Ismail, the elder son, to Arabia. Then he was commanded by Allah to build at Makkah that house of worship which is called the Ka'bah and to make it the centre of his mission.

(2) From the two sons of the Prophet Abraham sprang two nations Isma`ilites and Israelites. The former were the descendants of Ishmael who settled in Arabia. The Quraish and some other Arab clans were his direct descendants but even those Arab clans which were not his descendants claimed to he Isma 'ilites because they were more or less influenced by his mission. The latter, the Israelites, were the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac. Jospeh, Moses, David, Solomon, John, Jesus (may Allah's peace be upon them all) and many other Prophets rose from among them. They were called Israelites after Israel, the second name of Jacob. Some other people who accepted their religion also merged into them. All the Prophets of Israel, including Jesus, preached Islam, submission to Allah, but when the Israelites became degenerate and lost their religion (Islam) they invented Judaism and later Christianity.

(3) Abraham was appointed to invite the world to surrender to Allah and to reform the people in accordance with Allah's Guidance. He himself surrendered and acted upon the knowledge he received from Allah and exerted his utmost to propagate that knowledge and to persuade all the people to submit to the Sovereign of the Universe. Therefore he was made the leader of the world. Afterwards this leadership, with all its responsibilities, was transferred to the Israelites, the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. This was the special favour which the Israelites were asked, over and over again, to remember. Accordingly, during the time of Solomon, the Holy Temple at Jerusalem became the centre and the qiblah (the place towards which face is to be turned for prayer) of all the worshippers of Allah, as long as the Israelites remaind the leaders of this mission.

(4) In the foregoing address (vv.40-121), Allah has charged the Israelites with their sins of omission and commission during their leadership. Therefore the Qur'an points out their moral condition and tells them plainly, "You have proved yourselves quite unworthy of the favour shown to you. You have not only neglected to perform the obligations of leadership but have also discarded the Guidance of Allah from your own lives. Now the things have come to such a pass that you havebecome a community utterly unfit for leadership."

(5) Now they are being told that leadership is not the privilege of the descendants of Abraham as such, for none has any exclusive claim to it by the mere accident of birth. It was bestowed only upon those who submitted to Allah and followed His Guidance like Abraham. As they have swerved from that Way, and proved utterly unworthy of leadership, they are deposed from it.

(6) It also implied that the non-Israelite followers of the Prophet Moses and Jesus, who were proud of their relationship with Abraham had also swerved from the way of Abraham. Similarly, the idolaters of Arabia, who were also proud of their relationship with Abraham and Ismail have been told that they too were utterly unworthy of leadership, for they, too, had swerved from the Way of Abraham and Ismail.

(7 ) Now that the Israelites had been deposed from leadership, the argument proceeds to show why Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was raised as a Prophet from among the descendants ofIsmail, in answer to the prayer of Abraham and Ismail. It is because he followed the same Way as was followed by Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets before him. He and his followers believed in all the Prophets sent by Allah, and invited the world to the same Way that was shown by the former Prophets. Therefore the followers of this Prophet alone were worthy of that leadership.

(8) With the transfer of leadership, it was essential to change its centre as well. As long as the Israelites were the leaders, the Holy Temple at Jerusalem was the centre and giblah of all the followers of the Truth. That was why the Holy Prophet and his followers also used to turn their faces at first towards it at prayer. But when the Israelites were deposed from leadership, the Holy Temple automatically ceased to be the giblah. It was therefore, declared that the Ka'bah at Makkah, where Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) started his mission, is to be the giblah in future. As it also was the centre of Abraham's mission, neither the Israelites nor the Arabs could object to it because both acknowledged Abraham as their Prophet and ancestor. Thus there was no reason left for them to raise any objection against making the Ka`bah the centre of the Divine mission. But the fact is that obdurate people will goon arguing against the Truth even after knowing it to be the Truth.

(9) After declaring the Muslims to be the leaders, with the Ka`bah as their centre, Allah gives instructions (vv. 153-286) for their guidance to enable them to carry out their obligations as leaders of the world.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

Allah then mentions His favour upon the Children of Israel, saying: (O Children of Israel!) O Children of Jacob (Remember) recollect (My favour wherewith I favoured you) favoured your forefathers by delivering them from Pharaoh and his people as well as by the blessings and bounties that I favoured them with (and how I preferred you) with Islam (to the worlds) the people of your time.