In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 247
“And their prophet said to them, ‘Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.’ They said, ‘How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?’ He said, ‘Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing (in favor) and Knowing.’” [al-Baqarah 2: 247]
When the Israelites asked their Prophet to appoint a king over them, he appointed Talut (Saul), who was then a soldier. But, Talut was not a descendant of the house of kings among them, which was exclusively in the offspring of Yahudha (Judah). This is why the people said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?”
They rejected Talut because of his low financial standing; he did not have the wealth that justified him being king. Some said that Talut used to bring water to the people, while others stated that his profession was dyeing skins. The Jews, thus, disputed with their Prophet while they were supposed to obey him and to say good words to him.
Their Prophet said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you,” meaning I did not choose Talut to be your king on my own, rather it is the decision of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Why was Talut chosen to be their leader? Because he was more knowledgeable and honorable than them, and stronger and more patient during combat, and had more knowledge of warfare. These are the traits that should be in a leader. He should be knowledgeable, be fair looking and have a strong soul and body.
“Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills,” meaning, Allah Alone is the Supreme Authority Who does what He wills and no one can ask Him about His actions, while they will be asked (about their actions by Him). This is because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has perfect knowledge, wisdom and kindness with His creation. He is All-Encompassing and knowing. He grants His mercy to whom He wills. He also knows those who deserve to be kings and those who do not deserve it.
Being a miser and narrow-minded are the traits of a superficial person. Such a person bases his decisions on what is apparent and does not delve deeper into the reality of things. In the case of Saul, people rejected him because of his poverty; however, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had chosen him because of his knowledge and leadership abilities.
If you want to become successful in life – open up your heart. Cleanse your heart from any kind of constriction. Think good of others. Do not demean people because they have a darker skin tone than you or are poor.
From the description of Saul we learn that in order to lead others one must be both physically and intellectually capable. One should have the physical strength to lead people and knowledge to lead them to the right path. There are many leaders around us each trying to impress the public by means of their wealth and stature, but where are they calling us? We should not blindly follow people. We should see what they are calling us toward is also permissible by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala or not.
We also learn that knowledge should be put to action. One cannot do a Qur’an course and hang their certificate on the wall and then not act on what one has learned. Qur’an makes you strong and confident, live by its commands and don’t worry about the people.
The people rejected him on the basis of his low financial standing but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made him succeed because he was knowledgeable and righteous. It teaches us that when a person relies on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and treads on the right path, he is especially favored by Him. Such a person comes under the care of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and his task is made easier for him. So what should be done? Seek religious knowledge and live solely for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Ayah 248 – the more One Increase in Emaan, the more He understands Allah’s Decisions
“And their prophet said to them, ‘Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the chest will come to you in which is assurance from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Musa and the family of Haroon had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.’” [al-Baqarah 2: 248]
Bani Israel had the legacy of a wooden chest (also identified as the Ark of the Covenant). Musa ‘alayhi salaam and other prophets of Bani Israel kept this chest in the frontline of the battlefield. Its barakah [blessings] used to give them victory. When Jalut [Goliath] overcame Bani Israel, he took this chest away with him.
Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala played His plot and took the chest back from him. It is said that the place where the chest was carried was struck by an epidemic or calamity. Cities were turned desolate. Nonplussed, they loaded the chest on two bullocks and drove them off. Then, the angels took control of the bullocks and made the chest reach Talut’s doorsteps.
This is the sign that their Prophet had given them, “Indeed a sign of his kingship is that the chest will come to you,” meaning Tabut – the wooden chest will be returned to you. He said in it is sakeenah meaning peace and reassurance. It is similar to holding the Qur’an in your hand when you are fearful and being without the Qur’an. When you are afraid what do you do? You turn to the Book of Allah for calmness. Likewise, Tabut was a mean of assurance for the Bani Israel. It contained the remnants of what Musa and Haroon ‘alayhim salaam had left behind such as Prophet Musa’s staff and the traces of the Tablets.
Explaining, “…carried by the angels ” Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The angels came down while carrying the Tabut between the sky and the earth, until they placed it before Talut while the people were watching.” As-Suddi said, “The Tabut was brought to Talut’s house, so the people believed in the prophethood of Sham’oon (Simeon) and obeyed Talut.”
Their Prophet then said, “Indeed in that is a sign for you,” meaning testifying to my truth in what I was sent with, my prophethood, and my command to you to obey Talut. It was added, “if you are indeed believers.” It means the more one grows in emaan [faith] the more he is able to comprehend the plans of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Earlier the same people rejected Talut on the basis of his low status, but later they accepted him because they had witnessed the signs. It teaches us to trust Allah’s plans. Before complaining or reacting, we should first understand the situation. And if you are unable to understand a trial in your life then ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to help you understand.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 247 – 248