(55) وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَى لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّى نَرَى اللَّهَ جَهْرَةً فَأَخَذَتْكُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
(56) ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
55. " And (remember) when you said: ' O' Moses! we will never believe in you until we see Allah manifestly', so the thunderbolt struck you while you looked on."
56. " Then We raised you up after your death in order that haply you might be thankful."
An Unjust Demand !
These two verses remind the Children of Israel about another bounty amongst the great bounties that Allah bestowed upon them. This illustrates how stubborn and obstinate those people were, and how the divine grievous torment encompassed them as a result of their unjust demand. But, thereafter, the Mercy of Allah blessed them again. It says:
" And (remember) when you said: ' O' Moses! we will never believe in you until we see Allah manifestly ', ..."
This kind of demand might originate from their ' ignorance ', because the minds of ignorant ones usually cannot understand beyond the impressions of their senses. Their minds are not able to conceive anything invisible. So, they demanded to see the Lord openly with their own eyes.
Or, it originated haply from their stubbornness and their habit of seeking pretext which was one of the characteristics of those people. At any rate, they frankly told Moses (a.s.) that they would never believe in him until they saw the Lord manifestly and with their very eyes.
Here, they insisted on seeing Him. This placed Moses (a.s.) in a
helpless predicament. So, they saw, instead, one of the creatures of Allah that they did not have the ability to look upon. This incident might have made them understand that the eyes of the head were not able to see even many of the creations of Allah, much less their ability to see His Pure Self, the Almighty. Then, a thunderbolt came down and struck the mountain. It issued an amazing light with a horrible sound and an awful earthquake so that everybody there, because of their intensive fear, fell down dead. So, the Qur'an, following the above sentence says: "...so the thunderbolt struck you while you looked on."
* * * *
Moses (a.s.) was very worried about that event. Seventy persons from amongst the great leaders of the Israelites had died in that occurrence. It was a very crucial event for the Children of Israel to endure and they would make life hard for Moses (a.s.) . Then he (a.s.) asked Allah to raise them up and let them live again. His supplication was accepted, as the Qur'an says:
" Then We raised you up after your death in order that haply you might be thankful."
This short explanation of the above two verses is also expounded more comprehensively in Sura Al-'A'raf, No. 7, verse 155 and Sura Nisa, No. 4, verse 153. Concerning seeing God, we have in Exod. 33: 20: " And He said: ' Thou canst see My face: for there shall no man see Me and live '."
See the Bible, Exodus 19: 16 and 17, too, which is as follows: 16. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
17. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
This story shows that while inviting the ignorant and stubborn people to the right path, the great prophets of Allah were involved in many complicated problems. Sometimes, the people asked for improvisatorial miracles from the prophets; and sometimes they went further and demanded of them to see the Lord openly with their
physical eyes. They said decisively that they would never believe in them unless their demand was actually performed. They insisted on their vain thoughts and put forth some new excuses even when they were faced with respective violent responses from the Lord. But, the Grace and Mercy of Allah assisted the prophets on their path, else it was impossible for them to resist and stand firm when receiving all those excuses.
This tendency of demanding extraordinary and silly manifestations as miracles had also been the habit of the opponents of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , (the Holy Qur'an 4: 153, and 17: 90-96) .
By the way, this verse is one of the verses that attests to the existence of the possibility of ' restoration of life ', in this world, because its occurrence in one respect is evidence of its possibility in other respects, too.