Allah states that when the people of Fir`awn rebelled and transgressed, even though He inflicted them with consecutive signs, one after another, He took retribution from them by drowning them in the sea that Musa parted by Allah's power, and he and the Children of Israel passed through. In their pursuit, Fir`awn and his soldiers went in the sea chasing Musa and his people. When they all had gone inside the water, the sea closed in on them and they all drowned, because they belied the Ayat of Allah and were heedless of them. Allah said that He has granted the people who were considered weak, the Children of Israel, to inherit the eastern and western parts of the land. Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Qatadah commented that Allah's statement,
(...the eastern parts of the land and the western parts thereof which We have blessed.) refers to the Sham area (Greater Syria). Also, Mujahid and Ibn Jarir said that Allah's statement,
(And the fair Word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because of their endurance.) is explained by Allah's other statement,
(And We wished to do a favor to those who were weak (and oppressed) in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the land, and We let Fir`awn and Haman and their hosts receive from them that which they feared) (28:5-6). Further, Allah's statement,
(And We destroyed what Fir`awn and his people produced,) meaning, We destroyed what Fir`awn and his people produced, such as agriculture and buildings.
(and what they erected.) Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid said that
(they erected) means, they built.
(138. And We brought the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea, and they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship). They said: "O Musa! Make for us a god as they have gods.'' He said: "Verily, you are an ignorant people.'') (139. (Musa added:) "Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in (idols' worship). And all that they are doing is in vain.'')
Allah mentions the words that the ignorant ones among the Children of Israel uttered to Musa after they crossed the sea and witnessed Allah's Ayat and great power.
(And they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship).) Some scholars of Tafsir said that the people mentioned here were from Canaan, or from the tribe of Lakhm. Ibn Jarir commented, "They were worshipping idols that they made in the shape of cows, and this influenced the Children of Israel later when they worshipped the calf. They said here,
("O Musa! Make for us a god as they have gods.'' He said: "Verily, you are an ignorant people.'') Musa replied, you are ignorant of Allah's greatness and majesty and His purity from any partners or anything resembling Him.
("Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in) they will perish,
("and all that they are doing is in vain.'') Commenting on this Ayah, Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir reported from Abu Waqid Al-Laythi that they (the Companions) went out from Makkah with the Messenger of Allah for (the battle of) Hunayn. Abu Waqid said, "Some of the disbelievers had a lote tree whose vicinity they used to remain in, and upon which they would hang their weapons on. That tree was called `Dhat Al-Anwat'. So when we passed by a huge, green lote tree, we said, `O Messenger of Allah! Appoint for us a Dhat Al-Anwat as they have.' He said,
(by He in Whose Hand is my soul! You said just as what the people of Musa said to him:
( ("Make for us a god as they have gods.'' He said: "Verily, you are an ignorant people. Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in, and all that they are doing is in vain.''))''
(140. He said: "Shall I seek for you an ilah (a god) other than Allah, while He has given you superiority over the nations.'') (141. And (remember) when We rescued you from Fir`awn's people, who were afflicting you with the worst torment, killing your sons and letting your women live. And in that was a great trial from your Lord.)
Musa reminded the Children of Israel of Allah's blessings, such as saving them from Fir`awn, his tyranny and the humiliation and disgrace they suffered. He reminded them of the glory and revenge against their enemy, when they watched them suffering in disgrace, destroyed by drowning and meeting utter demise. We mentioned this subject in the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah.
(142. And We appointed for Musa thirty nights and added ten, and he completed the term, appointed by his Lord, of forty nights. And Musa said to his brother Harun: "Replace me among my people, act in the right way and follow not the way of the mischief-makers.'')
Allah reminds the Children of Israel of the guidance that He sent to them by speaking directly to Musa and revealing the Tawrah to him. In it, was their law and the details of their legislation. Allah stated here that He appointed thirty nights for Musa. The scholars of Tafsir said that Musa fasted this period, and when they ended, Musa cleaned his teeth with a twig. Allah commanded him to complete the term adding ten more days, making the total forty. When the appointed term finished, Musa was about to return to Mount Tur, as Allah said,
(O Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a covenant with you on the right side of the Mount) (20:80). Musa left his brother Harun with the Children of Israel and commanded him to use wisdom and refrain from mischief. This was only a reminder, for Harun was an honorable and noble Prophet who had grace and exalted standard with Allah, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him and the rest of the Prophets.
(143. And when Musa came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord (Allah) spoke to him; he said: "O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.'' Allah said: "You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain; if it stands still in its place then you shall see Me.'' So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust, and Musa fell down unconscious. Then when he recovered his senses he said: "Glory be to You, I turn to You in repentance and I am the first of the believers.'')