Date :Friday, December 18th, 2020 | Time : 12:16 |ID: 187425 | Print

David and Goliath Part-1: Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:246) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:246)

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

David and Goliath Part-1

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٢٤٦

2:246 Have you not known the chiefs of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah (SWT) “? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah (SWT) when we have been driven out from our homes and our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah (SWT) is aware of the wrongdoers.

Commentary: After the demise of Prophet Musa (AS), the Children of Israel’s leadership was passed down to Yusha-ibn-Nun (Joshua). He was a descendant of Prophet Yusuf (AS), a loyal disciple and close confidant of Prophet Musa (AS). During the journey of Prophet Musa (AS) with Khizr (AS), as mentioned in chapter 12 of the Quran, Yusha-ib-Nun was Prophet Musa’s (AS) sole companion; see commentary on verse 2:44 for more details. Yusha ibn Nun provided divine guidance for 27 years, and He died at the age of 110 [Bahral-Anwaar, Vol. 13, P. 375].

After Yusha ibn Nun, disputes and hostility created disarray amongst the Children of Israel. Consequently, the neighboring tribes became bold and began to raid the Children of Israel’s lands. In particular, a tyrant named Jalut (Goliath) had subjugated them and treated them so poorly so that they lost all traces of joy in life. The Children of Israel cried out for help and asked Prophet Samuel to pray to Allah (SWT) to send them a king to fight wholeheartedly under his command.

Prophet Samuel (AS), who was well acquainted with their shortcomings, replied: “I am afraid that when the order of jihad arrives, you will disobey the order of your king and refrain from confronting and fighting the enemy.” They said: “How can we disobey the command of the king and refuse to do our duty, while the enemy has occupied our lands, and taken our children captive?” Prophet Samuel (AS) prayed to Allah (SWT), and Talut (Saul) was appointed as their king. However, the verse attests that the majority of them were not steadfast in their covenant. Let us now explore verse 2:246 more closely.

The verse addresses the Prophet (SAWA) and says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۖ … ﴿٢٤٦

2:246 Have you not known the chiefs of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Musa when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah (SWT)”? …

The word (الْمَلَإِ) means a large population with a single thought, opinions, and views. It also implies chiefs and elders of a nation since they represent the mindset of their people. The meaning of (أَلَمْ تَرَ) means “have not you seen,” but it implies “have not you known.” In Arabic literature, whenever they want to visualize a story to an audience fully, they address it with the phrase (أَلَمْ تَرَ) [Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol.2, P.219]. The Children of Israel in the past had disobeyed their prophet and broken the divine covenant many times. Hence, Prophet Samuel (AS) asked them, “Would you, by any chance, refrain from Jihad once it is ordained for you?”

… قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ … ﴿٢٤٦

2: He said: “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?”

They promptly said:

… قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ …﴿٢٤٦

2:246 They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah (SWT) when we have been driven out from our homes and our children?” Being driven out from their homes and children implies that their children were enslaved and that they had lost sovereignty over their homes [Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol.2, P.219]. In this way, they declared their allegiance to their covenant. Later on, most of them broke their promises despite their children’s enslavement and lost sovereignty to their land. The verse continues to say:

…فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٢٤٦

2:246 …But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah (SWT) is aware of the wrongdoers.

Some commentators state that only 313 remained truthful to their allegiance, which is the same number of loyal soldiers in the Battle of Badr [TafseereNamoona, Vol.2, P.236].

Word-for-Word Translation:

2:246 [أَلَمْ] did not [تَرَ] you see [إِلَى] towards [الْمَلَإِ] the chiefs [مِن] of [بَنِي] the children [إِسْرَائِيلَ] of Israel [مِن] from [بَعْدِ] after [مُوسَىٰ] Musa, [إِذْ] when [قَالُوا] they said [لِنَبِيٍّ] to a prophet [لَّهُمُ] of theirs, [ابْعَثْ] Appoint [لَنَا] for us [مَلِكًا] a king, [نُّقَاتِلْ] we may fight [فِي] in [سَبِيلِ] the way [اللَّـهِ ] of Allah. [قَالَ] He said, [هَلْ] Would [عَسَيْتُمْ] you perhaps [إِن] if [كُتِبَ] prescribed [عَلَيْكُمُ] upon you [الْقِتَالُ] the fighting [أَلَّا] that not [تُقَاتِلُوا] you fight. [قَالُوا] They said [وَمَا] and what [لَنَا] for us [أَلَّا] that not [نُقَاتِلَ] we fight [فِي] in [سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ] the way of Allah, [وَقَدْ] While surely [أُخْرِجْنَا] we have been driven [مِن] from [دِيَارِنَا] our homes [وَأَبْنَائِنَا] and our children. [فَلَمَّا] Yet, when [كُتِبَ] we prescribed [عَلَيْهِمُ] upon them [الْقِتَالُ] the fighting [تَوَلَّوْا] they turned away, [إِلَّا] except [قَلِيلًا] a few [مِّنْهُمْ] among them.  [وَاللَّـهُ] And Allah [عَلِيمٌ] is All-knowing [بِالظَّالِمِينَ] of the wrongdoers.

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