Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 60..........Part 2
Chapter 2, Verse 60
Remember when Moses prayed for water for his people and We said to him, ‘Strike the rock with your staff.’ Twelve springs gushed out, and each group knew its drinking place. ‘Eat and drink the sustenance God has provided and do not cause corruption in the land.’(Chapter 2: Verse 60)
From the previous few verses, we came to learn that the Israelites often returned God’s favors with rejection and denial. Why would Allah grant them water after all they did? We answer that it was to honor the compassionate mercy of prophet Moses. Moses had unlimited faith in God's mercy, and he continuously supplicated for the benefit of his people.
When you read this verse, you may notice that it eliminates certain information and leaves it up to you to understand. For example, the beginning of the verse mentions Remember when Moses prayed for water for his people and We said to him, ‘Strike the rock with your staff.’ The verse does not mention the actual supplication of Moses ‘O Lord provide them with water,’ and it does not mention that God accepted and responded to his prayer because all that is understood form the context. The Quran often gives the reader the essential information, while leaving out the rest so it can be understood by the attentive mind. Let's look at an example from Chapter 27 'The Ants'. Allah narrates the story of the hoopoe; a bird who flew to the land of Sheba and saw the Queen and her people worshipping the sun. He returned and reported to Prophet Solomon. Solomon gave him a letter to deliver to the Queen inviting her to faith and to believe in God as the following verses illustrates:
Take this letter of mine and deliver it to them, then withdraw and see what answer they send back.’ She said, ‘Council! a noble letter has been delivered to me (27:28-29)
When you listen to the verses, you realize that some information has been omitted, but it is understood from the context. The verses did not mention that the hoopoe flew to Sheba after being commanded to deliver the letter. You understand that after receiving the letter, the Queen opened it, read it and called her cabinet to a meeting. Allah wants you to read the Quran with your intellect, and be mindful of its message. He does not want you to glance it over, or read while your mind is distracted. He says:
Why do they not study the Qur’an? If it was the words of other than God, they would have found many contradiction in it. (4:82)
God could have provided the Israelites with water simply through rain, but He wanted them to see another miracle. He commanded Moses to strike a rock with his staff after which water gushed out. Striking a rock with a wood staff usually breaks the staff, and won't even make a chip in the rock. It was through God's simple command "be" that the opposite took place and springs flowed from solid rock. Allah blessed the Children of Israel with double blessing -a miracle to witness and water to drink- so it may increase faith in their hearts.
Here we come across another example where materialism was the overriding manner in which the Children of Israel saw the world. They said to Moses ‘what if we get stuck in a place where there is no water, we really should take this rock along with us’. They overlooked the fact that the springs gushed by God’s command, not by something inherent in the rock itself.
The verse continues: ‘Twelve springs gushed out, and each group knew its drinking place.’ Why did they require twelve springs, you may ask? It was so the Israelites would avoid water disputes. They were divided into twelve tribes with separate, often quarrelling, leaders. Each spring would flow in the direction of one tribe. And once each tribe had quenched their thirst and fulfilled their needs, Moses would strike the rock to stop the water flow.
It is interesting to pause here and think about our human behavior. The verse that states ‘and each group knew its drinking place.' Being thirsty and in need, the Israelites listened and followed God's instruction. Similarly, when any one of us is in desperate position, he or she usually turns to God and adheres to His teachings. When, on the other hand, the distress is relieved, most people turn back to old habits. Thus, at the end of the verse God advises all of us with the following message: ‘Eat and drink the sustenance God has provided and do not cause corruption in the land.’ as a reminder not to turn our backs on God's teachings with ingratitude once his bounties are abundant. Let's look at an example form the Quran of people who received the same advise. God says:
There was also a sign for Saba in their dwelling place: two gardens – one to the right and one to the left. ‘Eat of your Lord’s provision and give thanks to Him: a bountiful land and a forgiving Lord.’ But they paid no heed, so We let loose on them a ?ood from the dam and replaced their two gardens with others that yielded bitter fruit, tamarisk bushes, and a few lote trees. (34:15-16)
Allah showered the people of Sheba with blessings, but they were arrogant and ungrateful. They took pride in a dam they built to gather and store water year-round. They were overconfident in their talents and forgot God was the one who blessed them with knowledge, ability, materials to build the dam, and fertile land. As they continued to transgress, God punished them by letting loose a devastating flood after heavy rains swept away the dam. You and I should always hold deep gratitude for God's gifts and remove any trace of arrogance from the heart. God says:
And when your Lord announced: “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”’ (14:7)