Praise be to Allaah.
Allaah tells us in His Holy Book the story of the smiting of
the Children of Israel, then how He brought them back to life after death,
in two places. It is mentioned in the context of speaking of the Children of
Israel and the blessings that Allaah bestowed upon them, and how they
responded to those blessings with ingratitude, denial and forgetfulness.
Allaah, may He be exalted, says: (interpretation of the
“And (remember) when you said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)! We shall
never believe in you until we see Allaah plainly.’ But you were seized with
a thunderbolt (lightning) while you were looking.
56. Then We raised you up after your death, so that you
might be grateful”
And He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The people of the Scripture (Jews) ask you to cause a
book to descend upon them from heaven. Indeed, they asked Moosa (Moses) for
even greater than that, when they said: “Show us Allaah in public,” but they
were struck with thunderclap and lightning for their wickedness. Then they
worshipped the calf even after clear proofs, evidences, and signs had come
to them. (Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Moosa (Moses) a clear proof
The thunderbolt was a punishment for them for their
transgressions against Allaah and their persisting in stubbornly asking
questions and their arrogance despite all the signs and proof that Allaah
showed to them. And despite that they asked Allaah to let them see Him
plainly in this world, and they made their faith conditional upon this sign,
although Allaah is far above weak eyes seeing Him in this world; rather they
will see Him in Paradise. So He punished them with death by thunderbolt
which seized them mightily, but because of His forbearance, forgiveness and
tolerance towards His slaves, He resurrected them after death to this world,
so that they might know how great Allaah's blessing to them was and give
thanks to Him for giving them a respite and allowing them the opportunity
once again to repent and turn back to Him. So the thunderbolt was a
punishment for them and the resurrection after death was a sign and a
blessing from Him so that they might learn a lesson and be reminded by it,
and then give true and sincere thanks for the blessing of Allaah. Hence the
verse in Soorat al-Baqarah ends with the words “so that you might be
Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) says:
Remember My blessing to you, when I brought you back to life
after the thunderbolt, when you asked to see Me plainly, which you and those
like you cannot do – as Ibn Jurayj said.
Ibn ‘Abbaas said concerning this verse, “And (remember)
when you said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)! We shall never believe in you until we see
Allaah plainly in’”: (it means) clearly. End quote.
Tafseer al-Qur’aan il-‘Azeem
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
The words “And (remember) when you said: ‘O Moosa (Moses)!”
mean: remember also, O Children of Israel, when you said... This is
addressed to those who were alive at the time of the Messenger (blessings
and peace of Allaah be upon him), but His blessings to the first of the
nation are also blessings to the last of them, so it is valid to address it
to the latter ones, even though this blessing came to those who went before
them. And His words “ ‘We shall never believe in you’” mean: we will
never follow you, and we will never believe, and we will never acknowledge
that which you have brought.
His words “you were seized with a thunderbolt (lightning)”
mean: death which was sent upon them.
And His words: “Then We raised you up after your death”:
this is a great blessing to them, that Allaah seized them with its
punishment, then He raised them again so that they might be deterred and it
might be an expiation for them. Hence He said: “so that you might be
grateful”, i.e. that you might give thanks to Allaah. This is explaining
the reason. End quote.
Tafseer Soorat al-Baqarah 1/191
Al-Taahir ibn ‘Ashoor (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This was an alert and a rebuke to them, hence He said: “for
their wickedness.” The wickedness in question is what is narrated in
Soorat al-Baqarah, when they refused to believe Moosa until they saw Allaah
plainly. Their wickedness was not in merely asking to see Him, because Moosa
had made a similar request on another occasion, of which Allaah tells us in
the verse where He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And when Moosa (Moses) came at the time and place
appointed by Us, and his Lord (Allaah) spoke to him; he said: ‘O my Lord!
Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.’ Allaah said: ‘You cannot see
Me, but look upon the mountain; if it stands still in its place then you
shall see Me.’ So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it
collapse to dust, and Moosa (Moses) fell down unconscious. Then when he
recovered his senses he said: ‘Glory be to You, I turn to You in repentance
and I am the first of the believers’”
Al-Tahreer wa’l-Tanweer (4/301)
And Allaah knows best.