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Ponderings on the Quranic Phrase "Pharaoh Exalted himself as Superior on Earth, and Divided its People into Factions. He Persecuted a Group of Them..." (28:4), PARTS I, II and III

 

Ponderings on the Quranic Phrase "Pharaoh Exalted himself as Superior on Earth, and Divided its People into Factions. He Persecuted a Group of Them..." (28:4), PARTS I, II and III

 

Published in February 21, 22, and 23, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

 

PART I:

 

Introduction:

 The Quran contains clear verses which are easy to understand, and at the same time, it has deeper levels for those who wish to delve into Quranic topics to discover new meanings by linking ideas together. This is exemplified in pondering a part of this verse: "Pharaoh exalted himself as superior on earth, and divided its people into factions. He persecuted a group of them, slaughtering their sons, while sparing their daughters. He was truly a corrupter." (28:4). The literal meaning of this verse is clear enough; yet, deeper ponderings and reflections on the first half of the verse 28:4 will show more information about Egypt; e.g., how the Egyptian population looked like, the nature and composition of the people of Pharaoh, who were the people of Moses, and who were the oppressed ones among the Egyptians during Moses' lifetime. 

 

Firstly: divisions imposed on the dwellers of Egypt during the lifetime of Moses:

1- The dwellers of Egypt were of two types: the people of Moses' Pharaoh on the one hand, and the Egyptian population on the other hand. The self-deified Pharaoh deemed himself as superior above all Egyptians and he divided them into factions/groups; he deliberately weakened the Israelites who were the people of Moses.

2- Hence, we have here the people of Pharaoh (the affluent class members who have authority), the weakened, oppressed people of Moses, and the rest of the Egyptians who were oppressed but in a lesser extent in comparison to the severe persecution and harm inflicted on the Israelites. Those three types of the dwellers of Egypt at the time will be tackled in the points below.

3- Let us quote this verse again: "Pharaoh exalted himself as superior on earth, and divided its people into factions. He persecuted a group of them, slaughtering their sons, while sparing their daughters. He was truly a corrupter." (28:4). Pharaoh did not assume this superiority by himself but using his people who included his family members, courtiers, retinue members, viziers, statesmen, and soldiers/troops who were the source of his might, power, and authority. Thus, Pharaoh used his might to divide the dwellers of Egypt into factions and he purposefully weakened, oppressed, and persecuted severely one faction/group; namely, the Israelites; his soldiers slaughtered their sons (or male babies). 

 

Secondly: the people of Pharaoh are his family members, soldiers, courtiers, viziers, statesmen, retinue members, and cronies:

1- It is assumed that Moses' Pharaoh was among the Ramses dynasty; as per many historians, pharaohs of this dynasty were the heads of the Egyptian State and the military leaders of armies/troops in all battles; they also headed all military councils. The Pharaonic troops/soldiers controlled the Egyptian economy: agriculture, irrigation, manufacture, mining, architecture (building everything), etc., whereas the oppressed people of the Egyptian nation were forced into corvée. Egyptian stretches of land were divided into feudalist units and distributed among soldiers and the Pharaonic deep-state men. The Egyptian State were owned by the ruling pharaoh; investments were done only by the people of this or that pharaoh: soldiers, courtiers, retinue members, viziers, statesmen, and family members. All of them believed in this (and in all views expressed by any enthroned pharaohs) and obeyed the commands and decrees issued by enthroned pharaohs/rulers; this applies also to Moses' Pharaoh and his people; their polytheism, arrogance, and aggression led to their destruction and people are to heed this lesson and never to follow the footsteps of the unjust ones. 

2- The Lord God said the following in the Quran: "Pharaoh proclaimed among his people, saying, "O my people, do I not own the Kingdom of Egypt, and these rivers flow beneath me? Do you not see?" (43:51); "Thus he despised his people, and they obeyed him. They were wicked people. And when they provoked Our wrath, We took retribution from them, and We drowned them all. Thus We made them a precedent and an example for the others." (43:54-56).

 

Thirdly: more about the people of Moses' Pharaoh:

1- The above points show clearly that both Moses' Pharaoh and his people formed a sort of organic unity; they mirrored each other; the people of Moses' Pharaoh were the source of his might; they were his family members, statesmen, viziers, courtiers, retinue members, soldiers/troops, etc. within a military regime controlling everything in Egypt: from the Pharaonic palace to the smallest city and smallest village.

2- The people of Moses' Pharaoh (i.e., his family) took the baby Moses from the River Nile to their palace: "Pharaoh's family picked him up, to be an opponent and a sorrow for them..." (28:8).

3- The people of Moses' Pharaoh (i.e., his soldiers) slaughtered sons and male babies of the Israelites.

3/1: "And recall that We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh. They inflicted on you terrible persecution, killing your sons and sparing your women..." (2:49).

3/2: "Moses said to his people, "Remember God's blessings upon you, as He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh, who inflicted on you terrible suffering, slaughtering your sons while sparing your daughters..." (14:6).

3/3: "Remember how We saved you from Pharaoh's people, who subjected you to the worst of sufferings-killing your sons and sparing your women..." (7:141).

4- Hence, slaughtering sons of the Israelites is ascribed to Pharaoh himself in one context and to his people in other contexts. This indicates the fact that Moses' Pharaoh and his people formed a sort of organic unity. Of course, Pharaoh's people included agents who spied on all houses of the Israelites to see the sex of the babies delivered by pregnant women on labor so that they would slaughter males and spare females.

5- Moses was the messenger sent to Pharaoh and to Pharaoh's people as well; because they were too arrogant to believe with Moses after seeing the miracles/signs, the Lord God punished them by drowning.

5/1: "The warnings also came to the people of Pharaoh. They rejected Our signs, all of them, so We seized them - the seizure of the Almighty Omnipotent Lord." (54:41-42).

5/2: "And recall that We parted the sea for you, so We saved you, and We drowned the people of Pharaoh as you looked on." (2:50).

5/3: "Like the behavior of Pharaoh's people and those before them. They rejected Our signs, so God seized them for their sins. God is Strict in retribution." (3:11).

5/4: "Like the behavior of the people of Pharaoh, and those before them. They rejected the signs of God, so God seized them for their sins. God is Powerful, Severe in punishment." (8:52).

5/5: "Such was the case with the people of Pharaoh, and those before them. They denied the signs of their Lord, so We annihilated them for their wrongs, and We drowned the people of Pharaoh - they were all unjust ones." (8:54).

6- Before drowning, the people of Moses' Pharaoh were punished by the Lord God within several afflictions.

6/1: "And We afflicted the people of Pharaoh with barren years, and with shortage of crops, that they may take heed." (7:130).

6/2: The people of Pharaoh were stubborn and arrogant; once each affliction was removed, they would return to their evil ways; they rejected the signs/miracles of the Lord God; He caused the destruction of Pharaoh and his people by drowning: "So We took vengeance on them, and drowned them in the sea - because they rejected Our signs, and paid no heed to them." (7:136).

7- There was one believing man/prince from Pharaoh's family who concealed his monotheistic belief; he preached his Pharaonic family when they conspired to put Moses to death.  

7/1: "A believing man from Pharaoh's family, who had concealed his faith, said, "Are you going to kill a man for saying, `My Lord is God,' and he has brought you clear proofs from your Lord? If he is a liar, his lying will rebound upon him; but if he is truthful, then some of what he promises you will befall you. God does not guide the transgressing imposter." (40:28).

7/2: The people of Pharaoh conspired against this believing prince: "So God protected him from the evils of their scheming..." (40:45).

7/3: We read the following about the torment of Pharaoh and his people inside a Barsakh level and on the Last Day: "So God protected him from the evils of their scheming, while a terrible torment besieged Pharaoh's people. The Fire. They will be exposed to it morning and evening. And on the Day the Hour takes place: "Admit the people of Pharaoh to the most intense torment."" (40:45-46).

 

The people of Pharaoh are also his soldiers/troops:

1- Within this Pharaonic military rule, the people of Pharaoh were also his soldiers and military troops; the mention of Pharaoh in the Quran is linked to his soldiers more often than not: "Has there come to you the story of the troops? Of Pharaoh and Thamood?" (85:17-18).

2- The military leaders of these troops were also the leaders and courtiers inside the palace of Pharaoh and the notables among the people of Pharaoh; for instance, we see here that Haman was the second military leader of the troops after Pharaoh himself: "And to establish them on earth; and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops, the very thing they feared...Pharaoh's family picked him up, to be an opponent and a sorrow for them. Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops were sinners." (28:6-8).

3- Some military men of Pharaoh carried arms, and some others supervised building of citadels, palaces, etc. like Haman. The arrogant, oppressive, unjust tyrants were punished and became imams/leaders of all disbelievers who followed their footsteps: "Pharaoh said, "O nobles, I know of no god for you other than me. So fire-up the bricks for me O Haman, and build me a tower, that I may ascend to the God of Moses, though I think he is a liar." He and his troops acted arrogantly on earth, with no justification. They thought they would not be returned to Us. So We seized him, and his troops, and We threw them into the sea. Observe, therefore, what was the end of the unjust ones. And We made them leaders calling to the Fire. And on Resurrection Day, they will not be saved. And We pursued them in this world with a curse. And on Resurrection Day, they will be among the despised." (28:38-42).

4- This means that Pharaoh, along with all his family members, soldiers, courtiers, etc., chased Moses and the Israelites; this is why all of them drowned in the Red Sea: "And We delivered the Israelites across the sea. Pharaoh and his troops pursued them, defiantly and aggressively. Until, when he was about to drown, he said, "I believe that there is no god except the One the Israelites believe in, and I am of those who submit."" (10:90).

5- We read the following verses about the drowning of the soldiers/troops of Pharaoh.

5/1: "So We seized him and his troops, and threw them into the sea, and he was to blame." (51:40).

5/2: "And cross the sea quickly; they are troops to be drowned." (44:24).

 

The people of Pharaoh include Pharaoh's soldiers, courtiers, retinue members, viziers, and family members:

1- We find the following within the Quranic Chapter 44.

1/1: "Before them We tested the people of Pharaoh; a noble messenger came to them. Saying, "Hand over God's servants to me. I am an honest messenger to you."" (44:17-18).

1/2: Pharaoh exalted himself as a superior on earth and deified himself and so did his people; i.e., they considered themselves as superiors on earth; this is why Moses said the following to them: "And, "Do not exalt yourselves above God. I come to you with clear authority." (44:19).

1/3: This is about the end of the people of Pharaoh: "And cross the sea quickly; they are an army to be drowned."" (44:24).

1/4: They left Egypt and its land of the plenty: "How many gardens and fountains did they leave behind? And plantations, and splendid buildings. And comforts they used to enjoy. So it was; and We passed it on to another people. Neither heaven nor earth wept over them, nor were they reprieved." (44:25-29).

2- The people of Pharaoh are mentioned here as well: "Your Lord called to Moses, "Go to the tyrannical people.The people of Pharaoh. Will they not fear?"" (26:10-11).

3- This is about the drowning of the people of Pharaoh: "Pharaoh pursued them with his troops, but the sea overwhelmed them, and completely engulfed them. Pharaoh misled his people, and did not guide them." (20:78-79).

4- The Pharaonic retinue members are mentioned here in this context as well as the expression (the people of Pharaoh): "And We sent Moses with Our signs and a clear authority. To Pharaoh and his retinue members, but they followed the command of Pharaoh, and the command of Pharaoh was not wise. He will precede his people on the Day of Resurrection, and will lead them into the Fire. Miserable is the place he placed them in. They were followed by a curse in this, and on the Day of Resurrection. Miserable is the path they followed." (11:96-99).

5- We read the following about Moses being sent to the retinue members of Pharaoh.

5/1: "We sent Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his notables. He said, "I am the messenger of the Lord of the Worlds." But when he showed them Our signs, they started laughing at them." (43:46-47).

5/2: "Then, after them, We sent Moses and Aaron with Our signs to Pharaoh and his dignitaries. But they acted arrogantly. They were sinful people." (10:75).

5/3: "Then, after them, We sent Moses with Our miracles to Pharaoh and his retinue members, but they denounced them. So consider the end of the corrupters." (7:103).

6- Because the arrogant, self-deified people of Pharaoh exalted themselves as superiors on earth, they assumed themselves to be the gods worshipped (by force) by the Israelites: "Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron, with Our signs and a clear authority. To Pharaoh and his retinue members, but they turned arrogant. They were transgressing people. They said, "Are we to believe with two mortals like us, and their people are worshiping us?"" (23:45-47). The same description is mentioned here about Pharaoh himself: "From Pharaoh; he was a transgressing tyrant. " (44:31); the people of Pharaoh said the following before facing Moses: "So settle your scheme, and come as one front. Today, whoever is superior will succeed."" (20:64). 

7- This means that the people of Pharaoh include Pharaoh's soldiers, courtiers, retinue members, viziers, and family members. They have the same features which distinguished them from the people of Moses, the Israelites, and from the oppressed Egyptian nation at the time.

 

N.B.: the coming PART II will be about the level/degrees of the Pharaonic retinue members and their relation with the oppressed Egyptian nation at the time.

 

 

 

PART II:

 

Introduction:

1- We have explained previously how the people of Pharaoh are his soldiers/troops, family members, retinue members, viziers, statesmen, courtiers, etc. and they were the source of the might of the self-deified Pharaoh who assumed himself superior in the land of Egypt he fully controlled; he controlled its dwellers as well and practiced on them the policy of "divide and rule" (or in Latin: divide et impera). This means that Pharaoh divided the dwellers of Egypt into groups and oppressed them; he stressed on weakening and persecuting severely (using his troops, retinue members, etc.) one once-powerful faction of the dwellers of Egypt: the Israelites who were the people of Moses.

2- The Pharaonic retinue members differ a great deal from any other dominant, affluent retinue members destroyed and smitten by the Lord God as per the Quranic stories of other prophets. This difference is due to the nature of the Egyptian deep state whose features of tyranny continues for millennia; i.e., in all eras including the Mameluke era, the rule of the king M. Ali Pacha, and until the present time since 1952. The ruling, enthroned pharaohs were tyrants who owned Egypt and its dwellers; they divide its land into feudal estates managed by the military troops and other deep-state men in all villages, cities, cantons, and even the capital. Hence, this means that a ruling pharaoh and his affluent people or retinue members were separated from the rest of the Egyptian nation they controlled; the rest of the Egyptians suffered corvée and feared torment; they obeyed absolutist rulers blindly as submissive subjects. The case of Moses' Pharaoh (and his people) and the rest of the Egyptian nation was no exception to this rule.

3- There were two degrees/levels of the Pharaonic retinue members: leaders/consultants and soldiers who execute orders.

 

Firstly: the leaders/consultants among the retinue members inside the palace of Pharaoh:

1- They were headed by the vizier/leader Haman, as we infer from this verse: "Pharaoh said, "O nobles, I know of no god for you other than me. So fire-up the bricks for me O Haman, and build me a tower, that I may ascend to the God of Moses, though I think he is a liar."" (28:38).

2- Among them was Quaroon who was the Israelite affluent man who helped Pharaoh in oppressing, weakening, and spying on the Israelites; this is why Moses was sent to Pharaoh and his retinue members including Quaroon: "We sent Moses with Our signs, and a clear authority. To Pharaoh, Haman, and Quaroon. But they said, "A lying sorcerer."" (28:23-24). Quaroon was among the retinue members and courters of the palace who suggested the idea of putting Israeli male babies/children to death: "Then, when he came to them with the truth from Us, they said, "Kill the sons of those who have believed with him, and spare their daughters."..." (40:25).  

3- In fact, Quaroon was among the Israelites but he oppressed them as he obeyed the unjust Pharaoh to gain stature and wealth by joining he Pharaonic retinue members; yet, Quaroon did NOT join Pharaoh and the rest of the retinue members in chasing the Israelites; we surmise that Pharaoh kept him in the capital; once Pharaoh and the Pharaonic statesmen, troops, etc. drowned in the Red Sea, Quaroon confiscated all their treasures and he had the keys for such immense wealth; the Lord God punished Quaroon by causing the ground to cave in on him along with his treasures and mansion: "Quaroon belonged to the people of Moses, but he oppressed them. We had given him treasures, the keys of which would weigh down a group of strong men..." (28:76); "So We caused the earth to cave in on him and his mansion. He had no company to save him from God, and he could not defend himself." (28:81).  

4- We read this about the fate of Pharaoh, Haman, Quaroon, and their likes: "And Quaroon, and Pharaoh, and Haman - Moses went to them with clear signs, but they acted arrogantly on earth. And they could not get ahead. Each We seized by his sin. Against some We sent a sandstorm. Some were struck by the Blast. Some We caused the ground to cave in beneath them. And some We drowned. It was not God who wronged them, but it was they who wronged their own selves." (29:39-40).

5- Of course, the retinue members were consultants of Pharaoh who told him what pleased him. The Lord God ascribed the words alternatingly to Pharaoh, to the retinue members, and to all of them (i.e., Pharaoh + the retinue members); this asserts the organic unity between the tyrannical Pharaoh and his retinue members; in fact, they mirrored each other. We provide some examples in the points below.

5/1: Bringing magicians from all over Egypt is ascribed to Pharaoh in one context and to the retinue members in other contexts: "Pharaoh said, "Bring me every experienced sorcerer."" (10:79); "They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the major cities. To bring you every experienced magician."" (26:36-37); "They said, "Put him off, and his brother, and send heralds to the major cities." "And let them bring you every skillful magician."" (7:111-112).

5/2: Persecuting the Israelites severely is ascribed to Pharaoh in one context and to the retinue members in another context: "The notables of Pharaoh's people said, "Will you let Moses and his people cause trouble in the land, and forsake you and your gods?" He said, "We will kill their sons, and spare their women. We have absolute power over them."" (7:127); "Then, when he came to them with the truth from Us, they said, "Kill the sons of those who have believed with him, and spare their daughters."..." (40:25).

 

Secondly: the soldiers who execute orders were Pharaonic retinue members all over Egyptian villages and cities:

1- They are mentioned explicitly and directly in the following contexts.

1/1: "But none believed with Moses except some children of his people, for fear that Pharaoh and his chiefs would persecute them..." (10:83); we infer that the Pharaonic retinue members who served Pharaoh, outside his palace, in all Egyptian cities and villages are his soldiers and agents who penetrated and spied on the Israelite community.

1/2: "And a man came from the farthest part of the city running. He said, "O Moses, the retinue members agreed to kill you..." (28:20); this is regarding the local retinue members of a certain city who held a council and decided to put Moses to death once they received news of what happened when the Egyptian man talked to Moses: "As he was about to strike the one who was their enemy, he said, "O Moses, do you intend to kill me, as you killed someone yesterday? You only want to be a bully in the land, and do not want to be a  reformer"" (28:19).

2- They are mentioned implicitly and indirectly regarding the Pharaonic secret service (which was like a central intelligence apparatus).

2/1: The Pharaonic secret service agents served Pharaoh by spying on houses of the pregnant Israelite women to kill the male babies and spare the female ones once the women delivered their babies.

2/2: "She said to his sister, "Trail him." So she watched him from afar, and they were unaware." (28:11); the sister of Moses was afraid and avoided the low-level retinue members who watched the streets and the River Nile in their patrols.

2/3: "So he left, fearful and vigilant. He said, "My Lord, deliver me from the unjust people."" (28:21); Moses fled from the city as he expected that the low-level retinue members who roamed the streets of the city would arrest him and put him to death.

2/4: "And We inspired Moses and his brother, "Settle your people in Egypt, and make your homes places of worship, and perform the prayer, and give good news to the believers."" (10:87); praying inside secret houses, in secret, was intended as a means to avoid spies and the low-level retinue members who spread inside the milieu of the Israelites as they managed to penetrate the Israelite community.

2/5: "And We inspired Moses: "Travel with My servants by night. You will be followed."" (26:52); spies of the low-level retinue members watched closely all movements of the Israelites even in secret houses where they prayed; they knew when and where the exodus would begin and sent news of if to leaders among the high-level retinue members inside the palace of Pharaoh.

 

Thirdly: the geography and demography of Egypt during the lifetime of Moses:

 Several levels and strata of the Pharaonic retinue members specialized in different types of mission and spread all over Egyptian soil; there are Quranic indications about the vastness of Egyptian densely populated cities which spread in many locations near the River Nile valley and away from it as well. Let us exemplify this in the points below.

1- "And We made the oppressed people inherit the eastern and western parts of earth, which We had blessed. Thus the fair promise of your Lord to the Israelites was fulfilled, because of their endurance. And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built, and what they had harvested." (7:137); the Lord God here describes Egypt of that epoch as a vast, blessed land with so many buildings, towers, factories, etc. and this shows that very big cities existed with thousands of dwellers living inside them.

2- The Quranic term (major cities) is never used in the Quranic text except to describe Egypt; this means they were densely populated megacities.

2/1: "Pharaoh sent heralds to the major cities." (26:53). We infer that Pharaoh sent his letters swiftly to all levels of the retinue members who worked in such major cities or megacities.

2/2: "They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the major cities. To bring you every experienced magician."" (26:36-37); "They said, "Put him off, and his brother, and send heralds to the major cities." "And let them bring you every skillful magician."" (7:111-112). Of course, these major cities were megacities filled with magicians/sorcerers; the most skilled ones were chosen from among them and mobilized to participate in the challenge against Moses inside the palace of the self-deified Pharaoh. We infer then that there were thousands of Egyptian people who dwelled in such megacities. 

3- "And a man came from the farthest part of the city running..." (28:20). This aspect of this unnamed city refers to the fact that it is a very large megacity with a center overlooking the River Nile (where the palaces of the affluent retinue members and Pharaoh were located) and suburbs at its peripheries where the poor possibly lived in what looked like slums.

4- "Pharaoh proclaimed among his people, saying, "O my people, do I not own the Kingdom of Egypt, and these rivers flow beneath me? Do you not see?" (43:51). This means he bragged of owning and controlling Egypt; the term (rivers) indicate the fact that the River Nile had several branches (not just two branches like nowadays) which reached to the Eastern Desert and Sinai and also the Western Desert; green, fertile areas, farms, and orchards stretched between Libya and Sinai; when the Abbasid caliph Al-Motawakil stopped recruiting desert-Arabs/Bedouins as soldiers in his military troops, they formed gangs of highwaymen in Egypt (and elsewhere); thus, the so many branches of the River Nile disappeared because of sabotage. Of course, those branches of the past caused thousands of people to live in so many megacities, because agriculture is the basis of civilization. 

5- "And We delivered the Israelites across the sea. And when they came upon a people who were devoted to some statues of theirs, they said, "O Moses, make for us a god, as they have gods." He said, "You are truly an ignorant people."" (7:138). When the Lord God made them miraculously cross the Red Sea (or rather its part known now as the Suez Gulf), the Israelites found settled Egyptian people who populated Sinai and had their own temple; this means that there were dense Egyptian population even in Sinai, as the River Nile branches reached there in the past.

6- "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59). This indicates the fact that green, fertile areas, farms, and orchards existed everywhere inside Egypt on both banks of the River Nile and in the deserts filled with water-wells; hence, millions of oppressed Egyptian people worked there; after the drowning of Pharaoh and his deep-state men, retinue members, soldiers, etc. the Israelites inherited Egypt and its population for a while before their exodus to the Promised Land. The Pharaonic existence is indicated by traces, monuments, and discoveries made in the Western Desert and in the north of Sudan; this means there were thousands of Egyptians who settled there under the Pharaonic political control.    

 

Fourthly: within these vast stretches of land, the Egyptians at the time were fully controlled by the Pharaonic retinue members:

1- The poor, ordinary Egyptians were oppressed by (fear of) torment; they witnessed the severe persecution occurring to the Israelites; let us be reminded that Pharaoh chopped off the limbs of the Egyptian magicians and crucified them to terrorize all Egyptians so that they would never disobey or challenge the Pharaonic authority.

2- The ordinary Egyptians remained silent and passive regarding the severe persecution occurring to the Israelites; this is indicated in the Quranic text as they are not mentioned directly in the story of Moses and Pharaoh; they are mentioned few times indirectly and implicitly; the only Egyptian man mentioned directly is the unnamed man who warned Moses: "And a man came from the farthest part of the city running. He said, "O Moses, the retinue members agreed to kill you..." (28:20) 

3- The few indirect references to ordinary Egyptians (as the people of Egypt) are exemplified here: " Pharaoh exalted himself as superior on earth, and divided its people into factions. He persecuted a group of them..." (28:4); " Once he entered the city, unnoticed by its people..." (28:15) "...This is surely a conspiracy you schemed in the city, in order to expel its people from it..." (7:123).

 

Fifthly: the Pharaonic retinue members had efficient communication methods, fast transportation, and superb organization:

  There were millions of people who formed the Egyptian nation during the lifetime of Moses; they formed the field/domain in which the Pharaonic retinue members move within intricate, complex, and organized network fully controlled by the enthroned Pharaoh. This is what we infer from the words of Pharaoh in the following verses.

1- The Egyptians were totally submissive to the Pharaonic retinue members who mobilized them easily and swiftly to attend the challenge between Moses and the magicians: "He said, "Your appointment is the day of the festival, so let the people be gathered together at mid-morning."" (20:59).

2- Pharaoh issued his commands/decrees and swift obedience and execution of them at once was naturally expected: "Pharaoh turned away, put together his plan, and then came back." (20:60).

3- When Moses' Pharaoh sent letters into all major Egyptian cities to gather all skilled sorcerers/magicians on time, the retinue members who specialized in mobilization undertook this mission: "They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the major cities. To bring you every experienced magician." So the magicians were gathered for the appointment on a specified day." (26:36-38).

4- One type of the retinue members specialized in spreading rumor to influence people; we infer this from this context: "And it was said to the people, "Are you all gathered? That we may follow the magicians, if they are the winners."" (26:39-40).

5- Once Pharaoh knew from his spies that the Israelites were about to leave Egypt without his permission, he knew his authority was challenged and threatened; he sent messages to all retinue members in all Egyptian cities to mobilize them to chase the people of Moses: "And We inspired Moses: "Travel with My servants by night. You will be followed." Pharaoh sent heralds to the major cities. "These are a small gang. And they are enraging us. But we are a vigilant multitude."" (26:52-56).

6- The hobby of Pharaoh was to hold public conferences all the time and his retinue members mobilized people to attend them; this means that all of the Egyptian people were totally submissive to the Pharaonic powerful, affluent retinue members: "And gathered and proclaimed. He said, "I am your Lord, the most high."" (79:23-24).

 

 

 

PART III:

 

Firstly: Pharaoh oppressed and deliberately weakened the Israelites who were the people of Moses:

1- Moses killed inadvertently an aggressor who attacked an oppressed, wronged Israelite man; Moses deemed this as a devilish deed and made a solemn oath to the Lord God that he will never ally himself to sinners/criminals: "Once he entered the city, unnoticed by its people. He found in it two men fighting-one of his own sect, and one from his enemies. The one of his sect solicited his assistance against the one from his enemies; so Moses punched him, and put an end to him. He said, "This is of Satan's doing; he is an enemy that openly misleads." He said, "My Lord, I have wronged myself, so forgive me." So He forgave him. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful. He said, "My Lord, in as much as you have favored me, I will never be a supporter of the criminals." The next morning, he went about in the city, fearful and vigilant, when the man who had sought his assistance the day before was shouting out to him. Moses said to him, "You are clearly a troublemaker." As he was about to strike the one who was their enemy, he said, "O Moses, do you intend to kill me, as you killed someone yesterday? You only want to be a bully on earth, and do not want to be a reformer."" (28:15-19).

2- We infer the following from the abovementioned Quranic verses.

2/1: An affluent, powerful man who belonged to the Pharaonic retinue members oppressed an Israelite man within the Pharaonic scheme/policy of weakening all the once-powerful Israelites who enjoyed stature once the days of Joseph. This Israelite man was of stature and some strength, and not among the oppressed, poor ordinary Egyptians; otherwise, he would not have defended himself and sought the help of Moses in this combat against the Egyptian man who attacked him. The Israelite man was delivered because Moses inadvertently killed he Egyptian man; the Pharaonic policy of weakening powerful Israelites went on; the same Israelite man was attacked by another powerful, affluent man of the Pharaonic retinue members; Moses passed by them while he lived in fear of retaliation because he killed a man the day before. The Israelite man sought the help of Moses for the second time; Moses was about to defend him but the Egyptian man reminded him of the murder committed the day before; this means there were witnesses who saw Moses killing the Egyptian man; the news of this incident reached the retinue members swiftly who decided to put Moses to death, but he escaped by fleeing from Egypt and settling in Madian.          

2/2: We conclude that both Egyptian men in the context of 28:15-19 belonged to the Pharaonic retinue members because they are described as (enemies) to the Israelites; this means that both Egyptian men were not among ordinary, oppressed Egyptians. 

2/3: This means that the demography of the people of Egypt (i.e., without Pharaoh and his people) consisted of factions/groups as per the geographic locations which exists until now (i.e., Sinai, Lower Egypt, Upper Egypt, the Eastern Desert, and the Western Desert). There was also a diversity in terms of specialization: peasants, workers, builders, craftsmen, overseers, and magicians. Moses' Pharaoh had erected massive edifices, monuments, palaces, temples, and other buildings: "And Pharaoh of the Stakes." (89:10); all of these edifices were destroyed by Israelites who confiscated everything once Pharaoh and his retinue members, courtiers, soldiers, etc. drowned in the Red Sea: "... And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built, and what they had harvested." (7:137).   

 

Secondly: the reason why Pharaoh deliberately weakened Israelites:

1- The endeavors of Pharaoh to weaken the Israelites by all means meant they were too powerful in the previous era (i.e., before Moses' Pharaoh was enthroned); of course, among the means to weaken them was to slaughter their sons; let us be reminded by these verses: "Pharaoh exalted himself as superior on earth, and divided its people into factions. He persecuted a group of them, slaughtering their sons, while sparing their daughters. He was truly a corrupter.  But We desired to favor those who were weakened on earth, and to make them leaders, and to make them the inheritors." (28:4-5); "And We made the weakened people inherit the eastern and western parts of the land, which We had blessed. Thus the fair promise of your Lord to the Israelites was fulfilled, because of their endurance..." (7:137). During the absence of Moses in Mount Al-Tur in Sinai, the Israelites had the means to weaken and threaten Aaron (they threatened to kill him!) as we infer from the words of Aaron to Moses here: "...Son of my mother, the people have overpowered me, and were about to kill me..." (7:150). 

2- Joseph, a the Potiphar or grand vizier of Egypt, received his father Jacob/Israel, his mother, and his brothers who came from the Bedouin area: "And he elevated his parents on the throne, and they fell prostrate before him. He said, "Father, this is the fulfillment of my vision of long ago. My Lord has made it come true. He has blessed me, when he released me from prison, and brought you out of the Bedouin areas..." (12:100). This means that Joseph lived in Egypt when it was occupied and ruled by the Hyksos who came from the East and who were originally Bedouins and shepherds; they differ from the ordinary Egyptians controlled by the deep-state to be used in all types of work (may be within corvée). The Israelites enjoyed stature, power, and wealth during the reign of the Hyksos and were set apart from the rest of the dwellers of Egypt because of Joseph who was the Potiphar of Egypt; once the Pharaohs regained control of Egypt and defeated the Hyksos, they persecuted the 12 tribes of the Israelites during the lifetime of Moses and decided to lessen their number by massacring male babies/children and sparing and enslaving female ones. This devilish scheme would have annihilated them if it had not been for the deliverance by the Lord God who interfered to save them by punishing Pharaoh and his State using the sources of Pharaoh's power, might, strength. 

 

Thirdly: the mentality of the Pharaonic tyrant:

1- The Israelite tribes were distinguished and set apart from the rest of the people of Egypt; the Pharaonic retinue members saw that and decided to persecute, weaken, and oppress the Israelites so that they submit to them like the rest of oppressed Egyptians; this is inferred from these Quranic verses: "The notables of Pharaoh's people said, "Will you let Moses and his people cause trouble in the land, and forsake you and your gods?" He said, "We will kill their sons, and spare their women. We have absolute power over them."" (7:127); "They said, "Are we to believe with two mortals like us, and their people are worshiping us??"" (23:47).

2- This is the zero equation with no compromises, medial position, happy medium, or piecemeal solutions; i.e., it is either the tyrant and his people or those who oppose tyranny which will control everything. This is why Pharaoh and the Pharaonic retinue members felt that the existence of Moses was a harbinger of driving them away from their stretches of land and possessions under their control and management: "He said, "Did you come to us to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Moses?" (20:57); "They said, "These two are magicians who want to drive you out of your land with their magic, and to abolish your exemplary way of life." (20:63). Thus, Pharaoh and the class of retinue members mirrored the views of each other.  

3- This state of affairs made things upside down; tyranny was deemed by Pharaoh as guidance: "...Pharaoh said, "I do not show you except what I see, and I do not guide you except to the path of guidance."" (40:29); lack of tyranny was deemed by Pharaoh as chaos and corruption: "Pharaoh said, "Leave me to kill Moses, and let him appeal to his Lord. I fear he may change your religion, or spread corruption on earth"" (40:26).

4- This means that when tyranny and arrogance control souls, facts are reversed and things are made upside down; Moses' Pharaoh the corrupt self-deified tyrant assumed he guided his family and affluent once while he deemed Moses as a source of corruption; the retinue members assumed that their being superior ones in control would grant them success: "...Today, whoever is superior will succeed."" (20:64).

5- Hence, the tyrant has his unilateral vision and embraces the zero equation of (either...or...); such a tyrant would deem any opposition or criticism of his regime as a scheme to overthrow him and to change the existing ruling regime; this causes fear, anxiety, and fury inside the soul of any tyrant: "Pharaoh sent heralds to the major cities. "These are a small gang. And they are enraging us. But we are a vigilant multitude."" (26:53-56). This is why when Pharaoh saw that the Israelites challenged his authority by leaving Egypt without his permission, he chased them until he was punished by being drowned in the Red Sea.

6- This means that any tyrant's soul has contradictory features; despite his absolutism and tyranny, he is haunted by anxiety and deep fear (and hallucinations); this is why Pharaoh (with his might) could never kill Moses as he wished; he felt very much afraid. Yet, Pharaoh was so enraged (and he never thought wisely) that he decided to annihilate the Israelites and Moses during their exodus as he chased them with all his people (soldiers, courtiers, statesmen, retinue members, viziers, etc.) despite the fact that he knew that the Israelites were weakened, unarmed tribes who never sought to fight him.   

 

Lastly: the people of Moses were all Israelites except Quaroon:

1- At the beginning, Moses called Pharaoh to let go of the Israelites so that they leave Egypt: "...I have come to you with clear evidence from your Lord, so let the Israelites go with me." (7:105); "Go to Pharaoh, and say, 'We are the messengers of the Lord of the Worlds. Let the Israelites go with us." (26:16-17).

2- By the end, the Israelites (i.e., the people of Moses) were delivered by the Lord God: "And We delivered the Israelites across the sea..." (7:138).

3- Between the beginning and the end, the people of Moses (i.e., the Israelites) were weakened and oppressed inside Egypt: "Moses said to his people, "Seek help in God, and be patient. The earth belongs to God. He gives it in inheritance to whomever He wills of His servants, and the future belongs to the pious ones." They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors on earth; then He will see how you behave."" (7:128-129); "But none believed in Moses except some children of his people, for fear that Pharaoh and his chiefs would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty on earth. He was a tyrant. Moses said, "O my people, if you have believed in God, then put your trust in Him, if you have submitted."" (10:83-84); "And We inspired Moses and his brother, "Settle your people in Egypt, and make your homes places of worship, and perform the prayer, and give good news to the believers."" (10:87).

4- After the drowning of Pharaoh and his retinue members, statesmen, courtiers, viziers, soldiers, etc., we read the following verses (to quote but few ones) about the Israelites who were the people of Moses.

4/1: "And We appointed to Moses thirty nights, and completed them with ten; and thus the time appointed by his Lord was forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron: "Take my place among my people, and be upright, and do not follow the way of the corrupters."" (7:142); "In his absence, the people of Moses adopted a calf made from their ornaments-a body which lowed. Did they not see that it could not speak to them, nor guide them in any way? They took it for worship. They were unjust ones." (7:148); "And recall that Moses said to his people, "O my people, you have done wrong to yourselves by worshiping the calf. So repent to your Maker, and kill your egos. That would be better for you with your Maker." So He turned to you in repentance. He is the Accepter of Repentance, the Merciful." (2:54); "And Moses chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment..." (7:155).

4/2: "And recall when Moses prayed for water for his people. We said, "Strike the rock with your staff." Thereupon twelve springs gushed out from it, and each tribe recognized its drinking-place..." (2:60).

4/3: "Those to whom We have given the Book recognize it as they recognize their own children; but those who have lost their souls do not believe. Who does greater wrong than someone who fabricates lies against God, or denies His Verses? The unjust one will not succeed." (5:20-21).

4/4: Among the Israelites, who were the people of Moses, good believers and also bad disbelievers who insulted him: "Among the people of Moses is a community that guides by truth, and thereby does justice." (7:159); "When Moses said to his people, "O my people, why do you hurt me, although you know that I am God's Messenger to you?" And when they swerved, God swerved their hearts. God does not guide the sinful people." (61:5); "O you who believe! Do not be like those who abused Moses; but God cleared him of what they said. He was distinguished with God." (33:69).

5- We read this about the Israelites after the death of Moses: "Have you not considered the notables of the Israelites after Moses? When they said to a prophet of theirs, "Appoint a king for us, and we will fight in the cause of God." He said, "Is it possible that, if fighting was ordained for you, you would not fight?" They said, "Why would we not fight in the cause of God, when we were driven out of our homes, along with our children?" But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. But God is aware of the unjust ones." (2:246).


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