Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And verily We had empowered them with) We gave them of wealth, power and works (that where with We have not empowered you) that which We did not give you, O People of Mecca, (and had assigned them ears) with which to hear (and eyes) with which to see (and hearts) with which to perceive; (but their ears and eyes and hearts availed them naught) from Allah's chastisement (since they denied the revelations of Allah) since they denied Hud and Allah's Scripture; (and what they used to mock befell them) the chastisement which they used to mock befell them.
And verily We had empowered them in ways in which We have not (in is either for negation or extra) empowered you, O people of Mecca, in the way of strength and means, and We had vested them with ears and eyes and hearts. But their ears and their eyes and their hearts did not avail them in any way (min shay’in: min is extra) since (idh, is operated by aghnā, ‘avail’, and imbued with the sense of [a particle introducing a] reason) they used to deny the signs of God, His clear proofs, and they were besieged by, there befell them, what they used to deride, of chastisement.
(We also gave them hearing, vision, and hearts. But their hearing, vision, and hearts availed them nothing when they used to deny Allah's signs, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to ridicule!) meaning, they were encircled by the torment and exemplary punishment that they denied and whose occurrence they doubted. This means, you listeners must beware of being like them lest a punishment similar to theirs strikes you in this life and the Hereafter. Allah then says,
(And indeed We have destroyed towns round about you, ) This is addressed to the people of Makkah. Allah destroyed the nations who disbelieved in the Messengers who lived around Makkah, such as `Ad who were at Al-Ahqaf in Hadramawt near Yemen, Thamud whose dwellings were between Makkah and Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), Saba' who were in Yemen, the people of Madyan who were on the route and passage to Ghazzah (Western Palestine), and the people of Lut who dwelt by the lake (the Dead Sea) which they used to pass by (on the way to Jordan) as well. Allah then says,
(and We have shown (them) the signs in various ways) meaning, `We explained and clarified them.'
(so that perhaps they might return. As for those whom they had taken for gods besides Allah, as the means of approach to Him, why then did they not aid them) meaning, did they help them when they were in the greatest need for them
بَلْ ضَلُّواْ عَنْهُمْ
(but they vanished completely from them.) Rather, they completely left them alone when they needed them the most.
(And that was their falsehood, ) meaning, their lie.
وَمَا كَانُواْ يَفْتَرُونَ
(and what they were fabricating.) which means that they fabricated lies by taking them as gods, and they lost and failed in their worship of them and their reliance upon them -- and Allah knows best.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Here, there is no indication as to who gave them this answer. However, the style shows explicitly that this was the answer they were given by the existing conditions. They thought it was a cloud which was coming to give rain to their valleys, but in reality it was a windstorm that was coming on to completely exterminate them.
For the details of the story of 'Ad, see AI-A'raf: 65-72, Hud: 50-60, AI-Mu'minun: 31-41. Ash-Shu'ara: 123-140, AI-'Ankabut: 40, Iii-Mim AsSajdah: 15-16 and the corresponding E.N.'s.
That is, "You are no match for them as far as wealth, power, authority and other things are concerned: your sphere of authority is restricted to the bounds of the city of Makkah, but they had dominated a large part of the earth. "
An important truth has been stated in this brief sentence. It is only the Revelations of Allah which give the right knowledge and understanding of the truth and reality to man. If man has this understanding and knowledge he sees the right thing with his eyes, hears the right thing with his ears, thinks the right thing with his mind and intellect and takes the right decisions. But when he refuses to believe in the Revelations of Allah, he fails to see the truth in spite of the eyes, becomes deaf to every word of admonition in spite of the ears, and misuses the blessings of the mind and intellect that God has granted him, and goes on drawing wrong conclusions one after the other; so much so that he starts using all his capabilities for his own destruction.