74 Hell will be the reward of those who return to their Lord as evildoers: there they will stay, neither living nor dying. 75 But those who return to their Lord as believers with righteous deeds will be rewarded with the highest of ranks, 76 Gardens of lasting bliss graced with flowing streams, and there they will stay. Such is the reward of those who purify themselves.
77 We revealed to Moses, ‘Go out at night with My servants and strike a dry path for them across the sea. [a] Have no fear of being overtaken and do not be dismayed.’ 78 Pharaoh pursued them with his armies and was overwhelmed by the sea. 79 Pharaoh truly led his people astray; he did not guide them.
80 Children of Israel, We rescued you from your enemies. We made a pledge with you on the right-hand side of the mountain. We sent down manna and quails for you, 81 ‘Eat from the good things We have provided for you, but do not overstep the bounds, or My wrath will descend on you. Anyone on whom My wrath descends has truly fallen. 82 Yet I am most forgiving towards those who repent, believe, do righteous deeds, and stay on the right path.’
83 [God said], ‘Moses, what has made you come ahead of your people in such haste?’ [b] 84 and he said, ‘They are following in my footsteps. I rushed to You, Lord, to please You,’ 85 but God said, ‘We have tested your people in your absence: the Samiri [c] has led them astray.’ 86 Moses returned to his people, angry and aggrieved. He said, ‘My people, did your Lord not make you a gracious promise? Was my absence too long for you? Did you want anger to fall on you from your Lord and so broke your word to me?’ 87 They said, ‘We did not break our word to you deliberately. We were burdened with the weight of people’s jewelry, so we threw it [into the fire], and the Samiri did the same,’ 88 but he [used the molten jewelry to] produce an image of a calf which made a lowing sound, and they said, ‘This is your god and Moses’ god, but he has forgotten.’ 89 Did they not see that [the calf] gave them no answer, that it had no power to harm or benefit them? 90 Aaron did say to them, ‘My people, this calf is a test for you. Your true Lord is the Lord of Mercy, so follow me and obey my orders,’ 91 but they replied, ‘We shall not give up our devotion to it until Moses returns to us.’
92 Moses said, ‘When you realized they had gone astray, what prevented you, Aaron, 93 from coming after me? How could you disobey my orders?’ 94 He said, ‘Son of my mother– let go of my beard and my hair!– I was afraid you would say, “You have caused division among the children of Israel and have not heeded what I said.”’ 95 Moses said, ‘And what was the matter with you, Samiri?’ 96 He replied, ‘I saw something they did not; I took in some of the teachings of the Messenger but tossed them aside: [d] my soul prompted me to do what I did.’ 97 Moses said, ‘Get away from here! Your lot in this life is to say, “Do not touch me,” [e] but you have an appointment from which there is no escape. Look at your god which you have kept on worshipping– we shall grind it down [f] and scatter it into the sea. 98 [People], your true god is the One God– there is no god but Him– whose knowledge embraces everything.’
99 In this way We relate to you [Prophet] stories of what happened before. We have given you a Qur'an from Us.
a. Bahr, ‘sea’, means any expanse of water, fresh or salty. Cf. 35: 12.
b. Moses had left his people in the charge of Aaron to contemplate on Mount Sinai. See 7: 142 ff.
c. Razi suggests various unsubstantiated identities for the Samiri.
d. Literally ‘I took a handful from the trail of the messenger and flung it . . .’.
e. Another interpretation is that the Samiri will become a social outcast.
f. Harraqa in classical usage has the meaning ‘grind’, as used here, rather than ‘burn’.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.