The Quran

Commentaries for 2.49

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.49 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And (remember) when We did deliver you from Pharaoh's folk), from Pharaoh and his people, (who were afflicting you with dreadful torment), and here Allah mentions the torment He sent on them: (slaying your sons) in their tender years (and sparing), using (your women) who were of age: (That was a tremendous trial from your Lord), a tremendous calamity from your Lord; and it is also said this means: a tremendous blessing.
2.49 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And, remember, when We delivered you, your forefathers: the address here and henceforth directed to those living at the time of the our Prophet, is about how God blessed their forefathers, and is intended to remind them of God’s grace so that they might believe; from the folk of Pharaoh who were visiting you with, that is, making you taste, evil chastisement, of the worst kind (the sentence here is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the person of the pronoun [suffixed] in najjaynākum, ‘We delivered you’); slaughtering your, newly-born, sons: this is explaining what has just been said; and sparing, retaining, your women, [doing so] because of the saying of some of their priests that a child born among the Israelites shall bring about the end of your rule [Pharaoh]; and for you therein, chastisement or deliverance, was a tremendous trial, a test or a grace, from your Lord.
2.49 Kashani - Kashani
And when We delivered you from the folk of Pharaoh: its exoteric aspect and its explanation is as it appears, reminding [them] of the favours to incite love [on their part], while its esoteric aspect and interpretation [is]: And when We delivered you from the folk of Pharaoh, the [evil-]commanding soul (al-nafs al-ammāra) that is veiled by its own egoism thinks itself superior to the Master of Existence; Egypt is the city of the body which, together with its faculties of estimation, imagination, evacuation, wrath, passion and the spiritual powers, namely the sons of God's close friend, Jacob, have enslaved the spirit, the natural powers of the body in the form of the external senses, as well as the vegetative powers; who were visiting you with evil chastisement, charging you with difficult hardships, toil and heavy labour when you [attempt to] secure goods and and store them away eagerly and expectantly, and [when] you organise your sources of nourishment and clothing and other things for which the eager among the children of this world toil; enslaving you by making you think of and concern yourselves [only] with the supervision of such [matters], while they are concerned in securing their pleasures, which [in fact] is [their] chastisement, since these [pleasures] prevent you from your [own] pleasures, slaughtering your sons, namely, those spiritual powers, [severing them] from the speculative rational [faculties] and the practical rational [faculties], the two that constitute the two eyes of the heart, the speculative right one and the practical left one, as well [slaughtering your] understanding which is the hearing [faculty] of the heart, and the mystery that is the heart of the heart and reflection and remembrance; and sparing your women, the above-mentioned natural powers, by preventing the former group from acts specific to subjugation and seizure, veiling it from the life and support of the light of the spirit; and by enabling and giving stability to the second group over its acts; and therein, [in that] deliverance, for you was a tremendous trial, a tremendous favour, from your Lord, namely the grace of being able to inspect the attributes of His majesty and beauty; or [it means] in that chastisement there is for you a tremendous affliction, namely, the affliction of being veiled, of privation and removal, for a trial, which is a test, ensues from these. God, exalted be He, says: And We tried them with good things and evil things [Q. 7:168].
2.49-50 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Children of Israel were saved from Pharaoh and His Army Who drowned
Allah said to the Children of Israel, "Remember My favor on you
وَإِذْ نَجَّيْنَـكُم مِّنْ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ
(And (remember) when We delivered you from Fir`awn's (Pharaoh) people, who were afflicting you with a horrible torment,) meaning, `I - Allah - saved you from them and delivered you from their hands in the company of Musa, after they subjected you to horrible torture.' This favor came after the cursed Pharaoh had a dream in which he saw a fire emerge from Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), and then the fire entered the houses of the Coptics in Egypt, with the exception of the Children of Israel. Its purport was that his kingship would be toppled by a man among the Children of Israel. It was also said that some of Pharaoh's entourage said that the Children of Israel were expecting a man among them to arise who would establish a state for them. We will mention the Hadith on this subject when we explain Surat Ta Ha (20), Allah willing. After the dream, Pharaoh ordered that every newborn male among the Children of Israel be killed and that the girls be left alone. He also commanded that the Children of Israel be given tasks of hard labor and assigned the most humiliating jobs.
The torment here refers to killing the male infants. In Surat Ibrahim (14) this meaning is clearly mentioned,
يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ وَيُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ
(Who were afflicting you with horrible torment, and were slaughtering your sons and letting your women live.) (14:6).
We will explain this Ayah in the beginning of Surat Al-Qasas (28), Allah willing, and our reliance and trust are with Him.
The meaning of,
(who were afflicting you) is, "They humiliated you,'' as Abu `Ubaydah stated. It was also said that it means, "They used to exaggerate in tormenting you'' according to Al-Qurtubi. As for Allah saying,
يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ
(killing your sons and sparing your women) that explains His statement,
يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ
(who were afflicting you with horrible torment) then it explains the meaning of the favor He gave them, as mentioned in His statement,
اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِى أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ
(Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you). As for what Allah said in Surat Ibrahim,
وَذَكِّرْهُمْ بِأَيَّامِ اللَّهِ
(And remind them of the annals of Allah) (14:5) meaning, the favors and blessing He granted them, He then said,
يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ وَيُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمْ
(Who were afflicting you with horrible torment, and were slaughtering your sons and letting your women live.) (14:6)
So Allah mentioned saving their children from being slaughtered in order to remind them of the many favors that He granted them.
We should state here that `Pharaoh' (Fir`awn) is a title that was given to every disbelieving king who ruled Egypt, whether from the `Amaliq (Canaanites) or otherwise, just as Caesar (Qaysar) is the title of the disbelieving kings who ruled Rome and Damascus. Also, Khosrau (Kisra) is the title of the kings who ruled Persia, while Tubb`a is the title of the kings of Yemen, and the kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) were called Negus (An-Najashi).
Allah said,
وَفِى ذَلِكُمْ بَلاَءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ
(And therein was a mighty trial from your Lord.)
Ibn Jarir commented that this part of the Ayah means, "Our saving your fathers from the torment that they suffered by the hand of Pharaoh, is a great blessing from your Lord.'' We should mention that in the blessing there a is test, the same as with hardship, for Allah said,
وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً
(And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good) (21:35) and,
وَبَلَوْنَـهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَـتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
(And We tried them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn (to obey Allah.)) (7:168).
Allah's statement next,
وَإِذْ فَرَقْنَا بِكُمُ الْبَحْرَ فَأَنجَيْنَـكُمْ وَأَغْرَقْنَا ءَالَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
(And (remember) when We separated the sea for you and saved you and drowned Fir`awn's (Pharaoh) people while you were watching) means, `After We saved you from Fir`awn and you escaped with Musa; Fir`awn went out in your pursuit and We parted the sea for you.' Allah mentioned this story in detail, as we will come to know, Allah willing. One of the shortest references to this story is Allah's statement,
(And saved you) meaning, "We saved you from them, drowning them while you watched, bringing relief to your hearts and humiliation to your enemy.''
Fasting the Day of `Ashura
It was reported that the day the Children of Israel were saved from Fir`awn was called the day of `Ashura'. Imam Ahmad reported that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah came to Al-Madinah and found that the Jews were fasting the day of `Ashura'. He asked them, "What is this day that you fast'' They said, "This is a good day during which Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy, and Musa used to fast this day.'' The Messenger of Allah said,
«أَنَا أَحَقُّ بِمُوسَى مِنْكُم»
(I have more right to Musa than you have.)
So the Messenger of Allah fasted that day and ordered that it be fasted. This Hadith was collected by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.
2.49 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The events recalled here were well known to all and sundry among the Jews. Therefore, only brief references have been made to these historical events to show that they had remained ungrateful and had persisted in evil deeds in spite of the continuous favours showered upon them by Allah.
"AI-i-Fir' aunö includes both the people of Pharaoh's own family and the people belonging to the ruling class of Egypt.
It was a trial of their character. They were made to pass through the fire of the test to see whether they were pure gold or a base metal. Moreover, they were put to the test to see whether they would be grateful to Allah after their miraculous escape.
2.49 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And when We delivered you from the folk of Pharaoh who were visiting you with evil chastisement slaughtering your sons and sparing your women; and for you therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord. Whoever has patience in God with the affliction of His enemies aʿdāÌihi God will compensate him with the companionship of His friends awliyāÌihi and He will grant him His beautiful gift ʿaṬāÌihi. The children of Israel were patient in enduring injury from Pharaoh and his people so He appointed prophets from among them and made them kings. He gave them what He had not given anyone in all the worlds. And for you therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord: It is said that [it was] a great blessing niʿmatun ʿaẓīma and a severe trial miḥnatun shadīda. In truth what [came] from God was externally a trial miḥna but it was really for the one who recognized it a blessing niʿma and a kindness minna.