This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.As we approach the end of our discussion of Moses, there are a few miscellaneous events recorded in the Koran that relate to Moses and the people of Israel. The Koran records that the people asked Moses to show them God clearly and fully.
"The People of the Book will ask thee to bring down upon them a Book from heaven; and they asked Moses for greater than that, for they said, 'Show us God openly.' And the thunderbolt took them for their evildoing." (Koran 4:152)Here, Muhammad is performing a peremptory strike against those who would ask of him to show them a sign of his authority and commissioning from God. He claims that, just as disaster struck those who asked of Moses to see God, so would such a disaster strike those who demanded a sign from Muhammad. However, in the actual account, the people of Israel did not ask to see God since they already saw God upon the mountain in the fire and smoke. They asked Moses that they might see God mo more and that God would reveal Himself to and through Moses and they, in turn, would obey Moses.
"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die?... Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.' (Deuteronomy 5:23-25, 27)The people were content that Moses should be their prophet; that he should be the one to see and hear God and that they would then obey everything God commanded them through Moses.
The Koran also says that the people asked Moses to make them idols to lead them like the all the other nations had.
"They said, 'Moses, make for us a god, as they have gods.' Said he, 'You are surely a people who are ignorant." (Koran 7:134)However, it was Aaron whom they asked to make for them an idol, not Moses.
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us a god who will go before us.'" (Exodus 32:1)The Koran also records the story where Moses asked God to show him His glory.
"he said, 'Oh my Lord, show me, that I may behold Thee!' Said He, 'Thou shalt not see Me; but behold the mountain -- if it stays fast in its place, then thou shalt see Me.' And when his Lord revealed Him to the mountain He made it crumble to dust; and Moses fell down swooning." (Koran 7:139)
However, the actual promise from God was that Moses would be able to see God, just not His face for no one can see His face and live. Also, as God passed by Moses there was no wind, fire or quake, just the gentle and calm presence of God and the voice of God proclaiming His glory.
"The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'" (Exodus 34:5-7)It seems, perhaps, that Muhammad confused the story of Moses with the story of Elijah.
"So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave." (1 Kings 19:11-13)The Koran also describes the feeding of Israel with water, manna, and quail.
"And We cut them up [divided] into twelve tribes, [as] nations. And We revealed to Moses, when his people asked him for water: 'Strike with thy staff the rock'; and there gushed forth from it twelve fountains all the people knew now their drinking-place. And We outspread the cloud to overshadow them, and We sent down manna and quails upon them: 'Eat of the good things wherewith We have supplied you.' And they worked no wrong upon Us, but themselves they wronged." (Koran 7:160)
The problem with this story is that the timing is all wrong. There was a place where they stopped and there was twelve springs, but it was not a miraculous spring gushing forth from a rock, but the spring at Elim. "Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters." (Exodus 15:27) It was then two months and fifteen days after their departure from Egypt that God first provided manna for them from heaven. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day.'" (Exodus 16:4) However, there is no mention of a cloud. They were fed with this manna up until the day they entered the promise land. "The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year." (Joshua 5:12) It was some time later, as the Israelites journeyed towards Mount Zion, that the people complained and God provided them water from a rock.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.' And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us, or not?'" (Exodus 17:5-7)
However, there is no mention of the number of streams that proceeded from the rock. Finally, it was still some time later, more than two years since they left Egypt, and after the Israelites had left Mount Zion, that the Lord sent quail upon the grumbling congregation.
"Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague." (Numbers 11:31-33)
He sent them quail with a curse. "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul." (Psalms 106:15 NKJV) It is also unclear, from the context of the story of the twelve streams and each tribe knowing where to drink, if Muhammad is referring to the dividing of Israel into the twelve nations and and giving them their inheritance in the Promised land. If so, then this would also be in error since Moses never made it into the promise land. "For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32:52) What makes matters even more confusing is that, in this same context in the Koran, we read the following story.
More to come...
"And question them concerning the township which was bordering the sea, when they transgressed the Sabbath, when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath, swimming shorewards, but on the day they kept not Sabbath, they came not unto them. Even so We were trying them for their ungodliness." (Koran 7:163)This verse is in the same context as the one where Moses split the rock and provided water for the twelve tribes. However, this verse could not have been during their time in the wilderness since they did not dwell in townships and did not live near the waters. However, if it speaks of their possessions in the Promise Land, then its inclusion in the same context as Moses is confusing. Either way, it must be stated, that there is no record of this story in the Jewish scriptures.
More to come...