1. For comparison, see (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayats 47-59); (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 100-141); (Surah Yunus: Ayats 75-92); (Surah Hud: Ayats 96-109); (Surah Bani Israil: Ayats 101- 111); (Surah Maryam: Ayats 51-53); (Surah Ta-Ha: Ayats 1- 89); (Surah Al-Muminun: Ayats 45-49); (Surah Ash-Shuara: Ayats 10-68); (Surah An-Naml: Ayats 7-14); (Surah Al- Ankabut: Ayats 39-40); (Surah Al-Mumin: Ayats 23-50); (Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayats 46-56); (Surah Ad-Dukhan: Ayats 17-33); (Surah Adh-Dhariyat: Ayats 38-40); (Surah An- Naziyat: Ayats 15-26).
2. That is, “For the benefit of those who are not obstinate and stubborn, for it would be useless to address those who are not at all inclined to listen to you.”
3. The words ala fil-ard in the text are comprehensive and mean that he adopted a rebellious attitude in the land, assumed independence and godhead and superiority instead of behaving like a servant and a subordinate, and started oppressing his subjects like a tyrannical and haughty ruler.
4. That is, he did not rule his subjects with an even hand giving equal rights to all of them, but he had adopted the polity of dividing them into groups. He bestowed privileges and preferential rights on some to be made the ruling class and reduced others to serfs to be oppressed and exploited.
Here, nobody should think that an Islamic government also discriminates between its Muslim and dhimmi subjects, and does not allow them equal rights and privileges in every way. This doubt is misplaced because this distinction, contrary to Pharaonic discrimination, is not based on any distinction owing to race, color, language or class, but on the distinction of ideology and way of life. In the Islamic system there is absolutely no difference between the legal rights of the Muslims and the dhimmis. The only difference is in their political rights, for the simple reason that in an ideological state the ruling class can only be the one which believes in its basic ideology. Every person who accepts this ideology can enter that class, and anyone who rejects it quits it. Thus, there can be no element of resemblance between this discrimination and the Pharaonic discrimination according to which no member of the oppressed race can ever enter the ruling class, under which the people of the oppressed race do not even enjoy the basic human rights, not to speak of their political and economic rights. They are even deprived of their right to live and survive, and are denied security of any right whatever. All special privileges and benefits and offices and good things of life are reserved for the ruling class and for every such person who happens to have been born in it.
5. The Bible elucidates this as follows:
“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them: lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them task masters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. And the Egyptians trade the children of Israel to serve with rigor; And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor. And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives. And he said, when ye do the office of a midwife to Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.” (Exod. 1: 8-16).
This shows that after the passing away of the Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him), a nationalist revolution took place in Egypt, and when the Copts regained power, the new nationalist government employed every means to subdue the Israelites. They did not only humiliate and disgrace them and took mean services from them, but, over and above this, they adopted the policy of reducing their population, by killing their sons and allowing their daughters to live so that their women should gradually pass into the Copts’ hands and produce the Coptic instead of the Israelite race. The Talmud adds that this revolution had taken place a little over a hundred years after the death of the Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him). According to it, the new government, in the first instance, deprived the Israelites of their fertile lands and houses and possessions, and then removed them from the government jobs and offices. Even after this, whenever the Coptic rulers felt that the Israelites and their Egyptian coreligionists were becoming formidable they would disgrace them and employ them in rigorous jobs on little or no wages at all. This is the explanation of the Quranic verse: “He debased a section of the Egyptian population”, and of (verse 49 of Surah Al- Baqarah): “They had inflicted a dreadful torment on you.”
However, neither the Bible nor the Quran mentions that the Pharaoh was told by an astrologer that a boy would be born among the Israelites, who would become a cause of his deposition from power. And to meet this danger he had issued orders to kill the male children born in the Israelite homes. Or that Pharaoh himself had seen a dreadful dream and the explanation given was that a son would be born among the Israelites, who would cause his downfall. Our commentators have taken this legend from the Talmud and other Israelite traditions.
6. That is, “Make them leaders and guides of the people in the world.”
7. That is, “Bestow on them inheritance of the land so that they should be rulers over it.”
8. The Western orientalists have been very critical of this. They say that Haman was a courtier of the Persian King Xerxes, who reigned hundreds of years after the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), from 486 to 465 B.C., but the Quran has made him a minister of Pharaoh in Egypt. This is nothing but an instance of sheer prejudice. After all, what historical evidence do these orientalists have to prove that there never lived any other person called Haman before Xerxes' courtier Haman? If an orientalist has been able to discover, through authentic means, a complete list of all the ministers and chiefs and courtiers of the Pharaoh under discussion which does not contain the name of Haman, he should make it public, or publish a photocopy of it, because there could be no better or more effective instrument than this of the refutation of the Quran.
9. That a son was born in the same period to an Israelite parents who was later known by the name of Moses to the world, has been omitted. According to the Bible and the Talmud, the family descended from Levi, a son of the Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him), and the name of the Prophet Moses’ (peace be upon him) father was Amram, which has been pronounced as Imran by the Quran. They already had two children before Moses, the elder a daughter, named Miriam, and the younger her brother, Aaron. Probably the proclamation that every male child born in an Israelite home would be killed, had not yet been issued when the Prophet Aaron (peace be upon him) was born; therefore, he was saved. The third child was born when the proclamation was in full force.
10. That is, she was not commanded to cast the child into the river immediately after birth, but to suckle it till she felt a real danger for it. For instance, if she felt that the secret had been exposed and the enemies had come to know of the child’s birth through some means, or through some wretched informer from among the Israelites themselves, she should place the child in a box and cast it into the river, without any hesitation. According to the Bible, the Prophet Moses’ (peace be upon him) mother kept him hidden for three months after his birth. The Talmud adds that the Pharaoh’s government had appointed Egyptian women who carried infants into the Israelite homes, and would make these babies cry, so as to make any hidden Israelite infants also cry and be thus discovered. This new method of spying worried Moses’ mother and in order to save her child’s life, she cast him into the river three months after his birth. Up to this point the version given by these Books is the same as the Quran’s, and the event of casting the box into the river has also been described just as the Quran has described it. In Surah Ta-Ha it has been said: Put this child in a box and place the box in the river. (Ayat 39). The same has been said by the Bible and the Talmud. According to these, the Prophet Moses’ mother made a basket of reeds and covered it with slime (tar) and with pitch to make it watertight. Then she laid the child in it and placed it in the river Nile. But the most important thing, which the Quran mentions, has found no mention anywhere in the Israelite traditions, that is, that the Prophet Moses’ mother had done all this according to an inspiration from Allah, and Allah had already assured her that by following that device not only would her child remain safe and secure but the child would ultimately be restored to her, and that her child would become Allah’s Messenger in the future.
11. This was not their aim, but the ultimate destiny of their act. They picked up the child through whom they were to be destroyed in the end.
12. What one understands from this is briefly so: When the ark or the basket was carried by the river to the place where Pharaoh’s palaces were situated, the servants of Pharaoh picked it up and took it before the king and the queen. It is just possible that the king and the queen were at that time strolling along the river bank and might have noticed the basket and ordered it to be picked up. When they saw a child in it, they could easily guess that it belonged to an Israelite family. For it came from the quarters inhabited by the Israelites, whose sons were being put to death in those days. It was understood that somebody had hidden the child for some time but when it could not be hidden any longer, it was cast to the river in the hope that it might be picked up and rescued from death. With this in view, the most obedient servants submitted that the king order the child to be killed forthwith, for it might prove dangerous for him. But the Pharaoh’s wife was a woman and might even be childless. Then it was a lovely child, as Allah has reminded Moses in Surah Ta-Ha: Ayat 39, thus: “I had cast on you love from Myself.” That is “I had made you such a lovely child that the beholders could not help but love you.” Therefore, the woman could not keep their feelings for him, and said to the king, “Do not kill him, but let us adopt him. When he grows up in our house as our son, he will not know that he was an Israelite: he will rather think he is one of Pharaoh’s own kinsfolk, and he will be useful for us as against the Israelites.”
According to the Bible and the Talmud, the woman who had counseled adoption of Moses was Pharaoh’s daughter, but according to the Quran his wife (imraat-u-Firaun). Obviously, the direct word of Allah is more reliable than the verbal traditions which were compiled centuries afterwards. Therefore, it is absolutely needless to translate imraat-u-Firaun as a woman of Pharaoh’s family against the Arabic idiom and usage only for the sake of seeking conformity with the Israelite traditions.
13. That is, the girl walked along and watched the floating basket in such a manner that the enemies could not know that she had anything to do with the child in it. According to the Israelite traditions, this sister of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was 10 to 12 years old. She followed up her brother intelligently and cleverly and ascertained that he had been picked up by the Pharaoh’s household.
14. That is, “The child would not take to any nurse whom the queen would call for suckling him.”
15. This shows that the sister did not go and sit back at home when she found that her brother had reached Pharaoh’s palace, but cleverly hung about the palace to watch every new development. Then, when she found that the child was not taking to any nurse, and the queen was anxious to get a nurse who would suit it, the intelligent girl went straight into the palace, and said, “I can tell you the whereabouts of a nurse, who will bring him up with great affection.” Here it should be borne in mind that in old days the well-to-do and noble families of these countries generally used to entrust their children to nurses for bringing up. We know that in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) nurses from the suburbs also used to visit Makkah from time to time in order to get infants from the well-to-do families for suckling and nursing on rich wages. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself was brought up by Halimah Sadiyah in the desert. The same custom was prevalent in Egypt, that is why the Prophet Moses’ (peace be upon him) sister did not say that she would bring a suitable nurse, but said that she would tell them of a house whose people would take up the responsibility of bringing him up with care and affection.
16. According to the Bible and the Talmud, the child was named “Moses” in Pharaoh’s house. It is not a Hebrew but a Coptic word, which means, “I drew him out of the water”, for in Coptic mo meant water and oshe rescued.
17. Another good thing that resulted from this wise device by Allah was that the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) could not become a real prince in Pharaoh’s house, but grew up among his own people and became fully aware of his family and community traditions and his ancestral religion. Thus, instead of growing up as a member of Pharaoh’s class and people, he arose sentimentally and intellectually as a full-fledged Israelite.
In a Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “He who works to earn his livelihood and keeps in view Allah’s goodwill also, has a likeness with the Prophet Moses’ (peace be upon him) mother, who suckled her own son as well as received her wages for the service, too.” That is, although such a person works to earn a living for his children, since he works honestly with a view to pleasing God, and he is just and upright in his dealings with others, seeks lawful provisions for himself and his children in the spirit of God’s worship, he does deserve a reward from Allah even for earning his own livelihood.