When proof had been established against Fir`awn, clearly and rationally, he resorted to using force against Musa, thinking that after this there would no further room for discussion. So he said:
(If you choose a god other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.) To this, Musa responded:
(Even if I bring you something manifest) meaning, clear and definitive proof.
(Fir`awn said: "Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!'' So he threw his stick, and behold, it was a serpent, manifest.) meaning, it was very clear and obvious, with a huge body and a big mouth, terrifying in appearance.
(And he drew out his hand,) meaning, from his sleeve,
(and behold, it was white to all beholders!) It was shining like a piece of the moon. Since Fir`awn was already doomed, he hastened to stubborn denial, and said to the chiefs around him:
(Verily, this is indeed a well-versed sorcerer.) One who knows a great deal of magic or witchcraft. Fir`awn was trying to convince them that this was sorcery, not a miracle. Then he provoked them against Musa, trying to make them oppose him and disbelieve in him, and said:
(He wants to drive you out of your land by his sorcery...) meaning, `he wants to capture the people's hearts and win them over by doing this, so that they will support him, and help him and follow him, and he will defeat you in your own land and take the land from you. So advise me, what should I do with him'
(They said: "Put him off and his brother, and send callers to the cities; to bring up to you every well-versed sorcerer.'') meaning, `delay him and his brother until you gather together all the sorcerers from every city and region of your kingdom so that they may confront him and produce something like he produces, then you will defeat him and have the victory.' So Fir`awn did as they suggested, which is what Allah decreed would happen to them, so that all the people would gather in one place and the signs and proof of Allah would be made manifest before them all in one day.
(38. So, the sorcerers were assembled at a fixed time on a day appointed.) (39. And it was said to the people: "Are you (too) going to assemble'') (40. "That we may follow the sorcerers if they are the winners.'') (41. So, when the sorcerers arrived, they said to Fir`awn: "Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners'') (42. He said: "Yes, and you shall then verily be of those brought near (to myself).'') (43. Musa said to them: "Throw what you are going to throw!'') (44. So, they threw their ropes and their sticks, and said: "By the might of Fir`awn, it is we who will certainly win!'') (45. Then Musa threw his stick, and behold, it swallowed up all that they falsely showed!) (46. And the sorcerers fell down prostrate.) (47. Saying: "We believe in the Lord of Al-`Alamin.'') (48. "The Lord of Musa and Harun.'')
The Egyptians wanted to extinguish the Light of Allah with their words, but Allah insisted that His Light should prevail even though the disbelievers disliked that. This is the issue of disbelief and faith; they never confront one another but faith always prevails:
(Nay, We fling the truth against the falsehood, so it destroys it, and behold, it disappears. And woe to you for that which you ascribe.) (21:18)
(And say: "Truth has come and falsehood has vanished.'') (17:81) The sorcerers of Egypt were the most skilled in the art of illusion, but when a huge group of them gathered from all corners of the land, and the people came together on that day whose exact numbers are known to Allah Alone, one of them said:
(That we may follow the sorcerers if they are the winners.) They did not say: `we will follow the truth, whether it rests with the sorcerers or with Musa;' the people were followers of the religion of their king.
(So, when the sorcerers arrived,) means, when they reached the court of Fir`awn, and a pavilion had been erected for him. There he gathered his servants, followers, administrators, and provincial leaders, and the soldiers of his kingdom. The sorcerers stood before Fir`awn, asking him to treat them well and bring them closer to him if they prevailed in this matter which he had brought them together for. They said:
("Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners'' He said: "Yes, and you shall then verily be of those brought near.'') meaning, `and you will be given more than what you are asking for; I will make you among those who are close to me, those who sit with me.' So they went back to their places:
(They said: "O Musa! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw'' (Musa) said: "Nay, throw you (first)!'') (20:65-66). Here the incident is described more briefly. Musa said to them:
("Throw what you are going to throw!'' So, they threw their ropes and their sticks, and said: "By the might of Fir`awn, it is we who will certainly win!'') This is what the ignorant masses say when they do something: `this is by the virtue of So-and-so!' In Surat Al-A`raf Allah mentioned that they:
(They bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed a great magic) (7:116). And in Surah Ta Ha He said:
(Then behold! their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.) until Allah saying:
(and the magician will never be successful, whatever the amount (of skill) he may attain) (20:69). And here Allah says:
(Then Musa threw his stick, and behold, it swallowed up all that they falsely showed!) by snatching up and catching them from every corner and swallowing them up, and it did not leave any of them untouched. Allah says:
(Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.) until
(The Lord of Musa and Harun.) (7:118-122) This was a very serious matter, furnishing decisive proof leaving no room for any excuse. Fir`awn's supporters, who sought and hoped that they would prevail over Musa, were themselves defeated. At that moment they believed in Musa and prostrated to Allah, the Lord of Al-`Alamin Who sent Musa and Harun with the truth and an obvious miracle. Fir`awn was defeated in a manner the likes of which the world had never seen, but he remained arrogant and stubborn despite the clear evidence, may the curse of Allah and the angels and all of mankind be upon him. He resorted to arrogance and stubbornness and propagating falsehood. He began to issue threats against them, saying:
(Verily, he is your chief who has taught you magic) (20:71).
(Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city) (7:123).
(49. He said: "You have believed in him before I give you leave. Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic! So verily, you shall come to know. Verily, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.'') (50. They said: "No harm! Surely, to our Lord we are to return.'') (51. "Verily, we really hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, as we are the first of the believers.'')
His threats against them resulted only in an increase in their faith and submission to Allah, for the veil of disbelief had been lifted from their hearts and the truth became clear to them because they knew something that their people did not: that what Musa had done could not have been done by any human being unless Allah helped him, making it proof and an evidence of the truth of what he had brought from his Lord. Then Fir`awn said to them:
(You have believed in him before I give you leave.) meaning, `you should have asked my permission for what you did, and you did not consult with me; if I had given you permission you could have done it, and if I did not allow you, you should not have done it, for I am the ruler and the one to be obeyed.'
(Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic!) This is stubborn talk, and anyone can see that it is nonsense, for they had never met Musa before that day, so how could he have been their chief who taught them how to do magic No rational person would say this. Then Fir`awn threatened to cut off their hands and feet, and crucify them. They said:
(No harm!) meaning, `no problem, that will not harm us and we do not care.'
(Surely, to our Lord we are to return.) means, `the return of us all is to Allah, may He be glorified, and He will never allow the reward of anyone who has done good to be lost. What you have done to us is not hidden from Him, and He will reward us in full for that.' So they said:
(Verily, we really hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins,) `the sins we have committed and the magic you forced us to do.'
(as we are the first of the believers,) means, because we are the first of our people, the Egyptians, to believe. So he killed them all.
(52. And We revealed to Musa, saying: "Depart by night with My servants, verily, you will be pursued.'') (53. Then Fir`awn sent callers to (all) the cities.) (54. (Saying): "Verily, these indeed are but a small band.'') (55. "And verily, they have done what has enraged us.'') (56. "But we are a host all assembled, amply forewarned.'') (57. So, We expelled them from gardens and springs,) (58. Treasures, and every kind of honorable place.) (59. Thus and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them.)
After Musa stayed in Egypt for a long time, and the proof of Allah was established against Fir`awn and his chiefs, yet they were still arrogant and stubborn, then there was nothing left for them but punishment and vengeance. So Allah commanded Musa (peace be upon him) to take the Children of Israel out of Egypt by night, and take them wherever he would be commanded. So Musa (peace be upon him) did as he was commanded by his Lord, may He be glorified, and he led them forth after they had borrowed an abundance of jewelry from the people of Fir`awn. As more than one of the scholars of Tafsir have said, they left when the moon was rising, and Mujahid, may Allah have mercy on him, said that the moon was eclipsed that night. And Allah knows best. Musa asked about the grave of Yusuf (Prophet Joseph) (peace be upon him) and an old woman from among the Children of Israel showed him where it was, so he took the remains with them, and it was said that they were among the things that were carried by Musa himself, may peace be upon them both. It was also said that Yusuf (peace be upon him) had left instructions in his will that if the Children of Israel ever left Egypt, they should take his remains with them. The following morning, when there was nobody to be found in the Israelite quarters, Fir`awn became angry and his anger intensified since Allah had decreed that he was to be destroyed. So he quickly sent his callers to all his cities, i.e., to mobilize his troops and bring them together, and he called out to them:
(Verily, these) meaning, the Children of Israel,
(indeed are but a small band. ) meaning, a small group.
(And verily, they have done what has enraged us.) means, `every time we have heard anything about them, it has upset us and made us angry.'
(But we are a host all assembled, amply forewarned.) means, `we are constantly taking precautions lest they betray us.' Some of the Salaf read this with the meaning, "we are constantly forewarned and forearmed. And I want to destroy them to the last man, and destroy all their lands and property.'' So he and his troops were punished with the very things he sought to inflict upon the Children of Israel. Allah says:
(So, We expelled them from gardens and springs, treasures, and every kind of honorable place.) meaning, they were thrown out of those blessings and into Hell, and they left behind the honorable places, gardens and rivers, wealth, provision, position and power in this world:
(Thus and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them.) This is like the Ayat:
(And We made the people who were considered weak to inherit the eastern parts of the land and the western parts thereof which We have blessed) (7: 137).
(And We wished to do a favor to those who were weak in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors) The two Ayat thereafter: (28:5-6).
(60. So, they pursued them at sunrise.) (61. And when the two hosts saw each other, the companions of Musa said: "We are sure to be overtaken.'') (62. (Musa) said: "Nay, verily with me is my Lord. He will guide me.'') (63. Then We revealed to Musa (saying): "Strike the sea with your stick.'' And it parted, and each separate part became like huge mountain.) (64. Then We brought near the others to that place.) (65. And We saved Musa and all those with him.) (66. Then We drowned the others.) (67. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (68. And verily your Lord, He is truly the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.)