The twelve tribes of the people of Prophet Musa (Moses), peace be upon him

I take refuge with Allaah, the Exalted, from the accursed devil.

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Raheem: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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May the Peace and Blessings of Allah Azza wa Jal, our Lord Glorified and Praised be He, be upon our beloved  Prophet, his Family, and Companions.

The twelve tribes of the people of Prophet Musa (Moses), peace be upon him.

وَقَطَّعْنَـهُمُ اثْنَتَىْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا وَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَى مُوسَى إِذِ اسْتَسْقَـهُ قَوْمُهُ أَنِ اضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ فَانبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَّشْرَبَهُمْ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْغَمَـمَ وَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَى كُلُواْ مِن طَيِّبَـتِ مَا رَزَقْنَـكُمْ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَـكِن كَانُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

(160. And We divided them into twelve tribes (as distinct) nations. We revealed to Musa when his people asked him for water (saying): “Strike the stone with your stick,” and there gushed forth out of it twelve springs, each group knew its own place for water. We shaded them with the clouds and sent down upon them the manna and the quail (saying): “Eat of the good things with which We have provided you.” They harmed Us not but they used to harm themselves.)

وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمُ اسْكُنُواْ هَـذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُواْ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُواْ حِطَّةٌ وَادْخُلُواْ الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيئَـتِكُمْ سَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

(161. And (remember) when it was said to them: “Dwell in this town (Jerusalem) and eat therefrom wherever you wish, and say, `(O Allah) forgive our sins’; and enter the gate prostrating (bowing with humility). We shall forgive you your wrongdoings. We shall increase (the reward) for the good-doers.”)

فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ قَوْلاً غَيْرَ الَّذِى قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِجْزًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَظْلِمُونَ

(162. But those among them who did wrong, changed the word that had been told to them. So We sent on them a torment from the heaven in return for their wrongdoings.)

Surah 7 Al Araf Verse 160-162

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

We discussed these Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah, which was revealed in Al-Madinah, while these Ayat were revealed in Makkah. We also mentioned the difference between the two narrations, and thus we do not need to repeat it here, all thanks are due to Allah and all the favors are from Him.

وَسْئَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِى كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِى السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لاَ يَسْبِتُونَ لاَ تَأْتِيهِمْ كَذَلِكَ نَبْلُوهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ

(163. And ask them about the town that was by the sea; when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day, and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial for them, for they used to rebel against Allah’s command.)

Surah 7 Al Araf Verse 163

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

The Jews transgress the Sanctity of the Sabbath.

This Ayah explains Allah’s statement,

(And indeed you knew those among you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath..) (2:65) Allah says to His Prophet here,

(And ask them) ask the Jews who are with you, about the story of their fellow Jews who defied Allah’s command, so that His punishment overtook them all of a sudden for their evil actions, transgression and defiance by way of deceit. Also, warn the Jews (O Muhammad) against hiding your description that they find in their books, so that they do not suffer what their forefathers suffered. The village mentioned here is Aylah, on the shore of the Qulzum (Red) Sea. Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded from Dawud bin Al-Husayn from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah’s statement,

(And ask them about the town that was by the sea…) “A village called Aylah between Madyan and At-Tur (which is in Sinai). `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi said similarly. Allah’s statement,

(when they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath;) means, they transgressed in the Sabbath and defied Allah’s command to them to keep it sanctified,

(when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath day,) visible on top of the water, according to Ad-Dahhak who reported it from Ibn `Abbas. Ibn Jarir said, “Allah’s statement,

(and did not come to them on the day they had no Sabbath. Thus We made a trial of them,) means, this is how We tested them by making the fish swim close to the surface of the water , on the day which they were prohibited to fish. The fish would be hidden from them on the day when they were allowed to fish,

(Thus We made a trial for them,) so that We test them,

(for they used to rebel against Allah’s command) by defying His obedience and rebelling against it.” Therefore, these were a people who used a trick to violate Allah’s prohibitions, taking an action that seemed legal on the surface. However, in reality, this action was meant to transgress the prohibition. Imam and scholar Abu `Abdullah Ibn Battah reported that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

(Do not repeat what the Jews committed, and violate Allah’s prohibitions using deceitful tricks.) This Hadith has a reasonable chain.