Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 72 & 73
Chapter 2, Verses 72 & 73
Remember when you killed a man and blamed each other for the deed, God brought to light what you concealed. (Chapter 2: Verse 72)
There was a very wealthy man from among the Children of Israel who was not blessed with any children. This meant that his relatives would inherit him when he dies. His nephew wanted the inheritance, but did not want to wait. He put together a plan, and one night, he killed his uncle and moved the body to the backyard of a house in the neighboring village. The next morning, the villagers found the body, and naturally, the family of the victim accused the man who had the body on his property. The nephew cried out for revenge…..the blame game started, and matters escalated between the two villages. Each party tried to strongly disassociate themselves from the crime while accusing the other; but there was no clear evidence supporting either side.
At that time, the law stated that if a person was murdered and the murderer was unknown, the family of the victim would ask the accused party to select fifty eminent members from amongst them to swear by God that they did not commit the murder, nor had they any knowledge of the killers. If the prominent members were less than fifty, then the oaths had to be repeated until the number reached fifty. If they swore by God that they did not commit murder, or knew the killer, then the public treasury takes the responsibility of paying the blood money to the victim’s family.
But God intended to use this incident to show the people of the two villages that resurrection and the day of judgment are true. He wanted the dead to arise before them and speak of his killer. He said ' God brought to light what you concealed.' This miracle meant to serve two purposes: first, it would strengthen the faith of the Israelites as they were starting to waiver regarding God's teachings and ignore the consequences of the hereafter; and second it would show that God has perfect knowledge of all our actions. He was about to expose a matter that was very carefully planned and perfectly concealed. After all, the nephew acted alone under the cover of darkness, and took all precautions to conceal his crime. No one had seen him commit this crime, and he went the extra mile to frame an innocent person. In his view, he had committed the perfect crime.
Allah wants you and I to have no doubt of His knowledge. He revealed the crime in a manner that left absolutely no room for arguments as the next verse illustrates:
We said, ‘Strike the body with a part of the cow’: thus God brings the dead to life and shows His signs so that you may understand. (Chapter 2: Verse 73)
When the dispute flared up, the villagers resorted to Moses and asked his help in tracing the killer. Moses instructed them to slaughter a cow, but as we saw from the previous verses, they stalled and delayed even in a matter that was urgent to them and threatened to destroy their community. Thus, they had to find one specific cow and slaughter it. When they did, they were asked to take a part of its limb and strike the dead man's body with it.
Miraculously, the victim came to life. Keep in mind that a few days had passed since the murder, so the Israelites had no doubt that the victim was dead, and his corpse had started to decay. They were also the ones who slaughtered the cow with their own hands. They based so many things on materialism, so Allah made sure that the material aspect was very clear to them. Upon striking part of a dead cow on the victim’s dead body, he awoke and named his killer then died again. God says:
He brings forth the living from the dead, and brings forth the dead from the living, and revives the earth after its death. Likewise you shall be raised. (30:19)
This was meant to show the Israelites how God gives life after death. Life has certain rules, but above all, it is subjected to the will of the Creator. He says: 'thus God brings the dead to life and shows His signs so that you may understand.'