Surah al-A`raf (The Elevated Places) 7 : 160

وَقَطَّعْنَٰهُمُ ٱثْنَتَىْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ إِذِ ٱسْتَسْقَىٰهُ قَوْمُهُۥٓ أَنِ ٱضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ ٱلْحَجَرَ ۖ فَٱنۢبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ ٱثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا ۖ قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَّشْرَبَهُمْ ۚ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْغَمَٰمَ وَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْمَنَّ وَٱلسَّلْوَىٰ ۖ كُلُوا۟ مِن طَيِّبَٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنَٰكُمْ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَٰكِن كَانُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And We divided them into twelve descendant tribes [as distinct] nations. And We inspired to Moses when his people implored him for water, "Strike with your staff the stone," and there gushed forth from it twelve springs. Every people [i.e., tribe] knew its watering place. And We shaded them with clouds and sent down upon them manna and quails, [saying], "Eat from the good things with which We have provided you." And they wronged Us not, but they were [only] wronging themselves.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The sūrah then resumes its account of the historical events: “We divided them into twelve tribes, each a community. And when his people asked Moses for water to drink, We inspired him: ‘Strike the rock with your staff’ Twelve springs gushed forth from it, and each tribe knew its drinking-place. We caused the clouds to draw their shadow over them and sent down for them manna and quails, [saying]: ‘Eat of the good things We have given you as sustenance.’ Yet they could do Us no wrong, but they certainly wronged themselves.” (Verse 160)
 
These are aspects of God’s care which continued to be extended to Moses and his people, even after they strayed away and worshipped the calf, then atoned for their error as God told them and He accepted their repentance. This also comes after they demanded to see God Himself and were stunned by the trembling, before God brought them back to life in answer to Moses’s prayers. God’s care is demonstrated here in organizing them into twelve communities, according to their ancestry. Each community traced their ancestry to one of the children of the Prophet Jacob, who was also known as Israel. They confirmed their allegiance on tribal lines: “We divided them into twelve tribes, each a community.” (Verse 160)
 
God’s care is also manifest in assigning a spring to each community so that none of them would try to take what belonged to others: “When his people asked Moses for water to drink, We inspired him: ‘Strike the rock with your staff’. Twelve springs gushed forth from it, and each tribe knew its drinking place.” (Verse 160)
 
Another aspect of God’s care was to send clouds to give them shade from the burning desert sun, and to bestow on them from on high manna, a kind of wild honey, and quails to provide them with food after their drink had been guaranteed: “We caused the clouds to draw their shadow over them and sent down for them manna and quails.” (Verse 160) A further aspect of God’s care was the fact that all these good things were made lawful to them, as nothing had been forbidden them yet in punishment for their disobedience: “Eat of the good things We have given you as sustenance.” (Verse 160)
 
God’s care is manifest in all that, but the Israelite nature continued to be rebellious, unwilling to keep to the path of guidance, as clearly appears from the final comment of this verse which mentions all these blessings that gave them water out of the rock, shade in the burning desert sun and wholesome, delicious food: “Yet they could do Us no wrong, but they certainly wronged themselves.” (Verse 160) Disobedience to God and straying away from His path were the manifestations of their wronging themselves. Such disobedience could cause God no harm, because God has no need of the Israelites or anyone else. Indeed, His kingdom is not affected at all even if they and all creatures were to unite in total disobedience to Him. Nor is His kingdom increased in any way, if all creatures were to continue to obey Him without fail. People simply wrong themselves by disobedience to God and straying away from His path.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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  • فَانبَجَسَتْ - only use of the word in the Qur'an


Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


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4. Miscellaneous Information

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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A study of its contents clearly shows that the period of its revelation is about the same as that of Surah 6: al-An’am (The Grazing Livestock), i.e. the last year of the Prophet's life at Makkah, but it cannot be asserted with certainty which of these two were sent down earlier. The manner of its admonition clearly indicates that it belongs to the same period. [Ref: Mawdudi]

It is considered the longest surah revealed during the Makkan period. Some consider this surah to have been revealed after Surah 38: Sad. [Ref: Tafsir al-Maudheei, Dr. Mustafah Muslim, vol. 3, p. 2]

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