s a punishment for having worshipped the golden calf, Allah Ta’ala had commanded the mass slaughter of those among Bani Israaeel who had indulged in this despicable act of idolatry. Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) had ordered a contingent of 12,000 executioners under the command of Nabi Haaroon (alayhis salaam) to fulfil this divinely imposed sentence.
The guilty were all assembled in a vast field and the task of execution commenced. From Fajr until midday, rivers of blood flowed. Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) was immensely grieved, but the command of Allah Ta’ala had to be executed. Shedding tears in abundance, he mounted a hill, removed his amaamah (turban) and fell into Sajdah. He remained crying and supplicating in Sajdah. His lament and grief moved even the Malaaikah who joined him in supplicating to Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala opened up the Doors of all the Heavens to enable the Malaaikah to witness the supreme sacrifice which the sinners had voluntarily chosen to offer to cleanse them from the filth of idolatry to ensure their salvation in the Aakhirah.
After 70,000 persons were executed, Allah Ta’ala granted a reprieve for tens of thousands of others who had also indulged in the calf-worshipping.
The originator of the calf-worshipper, namely, Saamiri, still had to be dealt with. He was summoned to appear before Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) who had resolved to cut this evil person into bits. However, before Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) could execute Saamiri, Hadhrat Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) appeared and conveyed Allah’s command that Saamiri was not to be executed. His actual punishment will be in the Hereafter. Meanwhile, the worldly punishment for Saamiri was banishment and the affliction of a strange disease. He was expelled from the community and told that he will be forever afflicted with a malady. Any person who touched him would be smitten by a severe fever. Saamiri was banished to the wilderness. He roamed the wilderness like a wild animal, fleeing from human beings. Whenever he would see a human being, he would exclaim: ‘Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!’. People would flee from him on sight. This ends the episode of the calf-worship and Saamiri.
A FEARFUL EPOSODE
Referring to this fearful episode, the Qur’aan Majeed says: “Musa chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment. When the earthquake struck them (and destroyed them all), he (Musa) said: ‘O my Rabb, if You had wished, You could have destroyed them and me before (this destruction)’.”
Allah Ta’ala ordered Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) to select seventy men from his people and proceed to Mount Toor where they would be provided with further admonition for the evil of cow-worship which Bani Israaeel had practised. Musa (alayhis salaam) selected seventy of the best men and proceeded with them to Mount Toor. Although they were the intelligentsia, they too were guilty of creating doubts. They had spread the rumour that perhaps Allah Ta’ala did not speak to Musa (alayhis salaam) as he claimed.
When they reached the mountain, there appeared a wondrous cloud of noor (celestial light) which took up a position right in front of Musa (alayhis salaam). After a short while, Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) miraculously disappeared into the cloud. Beholding this miraculous event, all seventy men fell into Sajdah. Whilst in prostration they heard the Divine Voice speaking with Musa (alayhis salaam). They could clearly hear the numerous advices and admonition which were being imparted to Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam). In the state of prostration all seventy were deriving immense spiritual delight from the Divine Conversation.
After they raised their heads from Sajdah, they saw Musa (alayhis salaam) nearby. The glittering cloud had vanished. Musa (alayhis salaam) addressing them said: “O chiefs of my people! Have you seen and heard the Talk of My Rabb?” In response these obstinate and misguided intellectuals said: “Yes, we heard the talk, but did not see the speaker. We shall be convinced only if you show us the Speaker.” They had just completed this rebellious utterance when a violent earthquake erupted. One thunderbolt destroyed the seventy, transforming them into burnt charcoal. All had perished.
Observing what had happened, Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) loudly wailed and supplicated frantically to Allah Ta’ala. He was overwhelmed with the anticipated reaction of Bani Israaeel. What would they say? They would accuse him of having plotted the destruction of those whom they had regarded as the best among them. How will he face his people if he returned alone to them? After prolonged crying and supplicating, Allah Ta’ala accepted his dua and restored the seventy to life. All of them stood up reciting the Kalimah.
THE COMMAND TO WAGE JIHAAD
After returning with the seventy men, Allah Ta’ala ordered Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) to deliver the Message of Tauheed to the A’maalikah nation. If they rejected the Kalimah, he was to wage Jihad against them. These people lived in the Baitul Maqdis. They were a very powerful nation of oppressors. The Qur’aan describes them as Jabbaareen. Allah Ta’ala assured Musa (alayhis salaam) of victory.
Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) immediately made arrangements to confront the A’maalikah. He set off with a very large force of many thousands. He took the pledge of obedience from the army before setting out. He had divided his army into twelve divisions, each division with a separate commander. When the army entered the territory of the A’maalikah, Musa (alayhis salaam) selected twelve men – one from each division – and sent them ahead on a reconnoitring mission. The entire army was ordered to halt and wait for the return of the group of 12.
Immediately on their return to the army, they spread the story of the Amaalikah’s might and power. The entire army of Bani Israaeel was overcome with terror. They flatly refused to advance when Musa (alayhis salaam) ordered them. Referring to their cowardice and disobedience, the Qur’aan states: “O Musa! Never shall we enter that city as long as they (the A’maalikah) are there. Therefore, go, you (i.e. Nabi Musa) and your Rabb and fight. Verily, we shall sit (and wait) just here (where we are).”
Dejected and full of grief when he heard these statements of kufr of his people, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) supplicated: “O my Rabb! Verily, I have no control over anyone except myself and my brother. Therefore, separate us from a nation of transgressors.” The Divine Voice came in response to Musa’s supplication. Every member of Bani Israaeel heard the Divine proclamation. “O Bani Israael! How long will you continue with your disobedience and deny Our bounties? You fear not that in a moment I can destroy you all, and substitute you with a better nation to obey Musa.”
When Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) heard the Divine Reprimand, he hastily again supplicated, imploring Allah Ta’ala to forgive his people. Allah Ta’ala responded: “O Musa! We shall forgive them. But since you have in your dua branded them faasiq, they shall wonder aimlessly in the wilderness. We shall exempt four persons from this punishment: Yourself, Haaroon, Yusha’ and Qaalib Inb Qayyah. With the exception of these four, the punishment for the entire nation is mentioned in the following aayat of the Qur’aan Majeed: “Verily, the Holy Land is forbidden for them for forty years. They will wonder aimlessly in the land. Therefore, do not grieve for a nation of faasiqeen.”
Besides the saved four, the entire army set off in the direction of Egypt. They would wander aimlessly in that direction from morning until evening. In the evening they would find themselves at the very site where they had been in the morning. They had not progressed an inch despite struggling through the wilderness in great difficulty and hardship the entire day. They suffered in the wilderness wandering aimlessly for forty years.
At this juncture the historical narratives are extremely vague and there is no continuity in the story. Authentic narrators such as Ibn Kathir, are silent regarding certain important episodes following Bani Israaeel’s entrapment in the Valley of Teeh where they wandered aimlessly for forty years according to the Qur’aan. According to Ibn Kathir, the entire nation perished within the forty year period and only Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhas salaam) and Hadhrat Kaalib (alayhIs salaam) emerged safely. There is no mention of Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) and Hadhrat Haaroon (alayhis salaam), whether they too were wandering with their flock in the Valley of Teeh nor is it explained why Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhis salaam) and Hadhrat Kaalib (alayhis salaam) were also banished and imprisoned in the Valley despite the Qur’aan speaking glowingly of them and confirming their uprighteousness. In fact these two had tried their best to motivate Bani Israaeel to submit to Musa’s command and enter the city of the A’maalikah. Nevertheless, it is confirmed that Jerusalem was finally conquered by Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhis salaam) who had lived for 27 years after the demise of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam).
“And We shaded you (O Bani Israaeel!) with the cloud and We sent down for you Mann and Salwa.” (Baqarah, Aayat 57)