E. M. (Elwood Morris) Wherry.

A comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) online

. (page 39 of 42)
Online LibraryE. M. (Elwood Morris) WherryA comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) → online text (page 39 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Mecca before his flight, is given as a direct and immediate revela-
tion from heaven, and appealed to as a proof of his divine mission,
though it contains incontrovertible proof of having been partially
borrowed from the Bible, and still more largely from Rabbinical
tradition. Here was no delusion, no Satanic inspiration, which
could have been mistaken for Divine revelation, but a wilful fraud
and a palpable deception." lsldm and Christianity, p. 75.

(4) Mis father, "who was Jacob, the son of Isaac, and the son of
Abraham." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Eleven stars. " The commentators give us the names of these
stars (which I think it needless to trouble the reader with), as
Muhammad repeated them, at the request of a Jew, who thought
to entrap him by the question." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin, dec.

(5) Tell not thy vision. A contradiction of the Bible. Comp.
Gen. xxxvii. 5, 10.

Some plot. " For they say, Jacob, judging that Joseph's dream
portended his advancement above the lest of the family, justly
apprehended his brethren's envy might tempt them to do him some
mischief." Sale.

This also contradicts the Bible story, which nowhere intimates that
Jacob suspected any evil design against Joseph.

(6) Interpretation of dark sayings. "That is, of dreams; or, as
others suppose, of the profound passages of Scripture, and all diffi-
culties respecting either religion or justice." Sale, Tafstr-i-Ravfi.

This is also contrary to the Bible account.

(7) The inquisitive. Rodwell translates this " Inquirers," which
corresponds with the Urdu translations. The persons referred to
were certain Quraish, who, at the suggestion of the Jews, had asked


one another, Joseph and his brother are dearer to our
father than we, who are the greater number: our father
certainly maketh a wrong judgment. (9) Wherefore slay-
Joseph, or drive him into some distant or desert part of the
earth, and the face of your father shall be cleared towards
you ; and ye shall afterwards be people of integrity. (10)
One of them spoke and said : Slay not Joseph, but throw
him to the bottom of the well ; and some travellers will
take him up, if ye do this. (11) They said unto Jacob, O
father, why dost thou not intrust Joseph with us, since
we are sincere well-wishers unto him ? (12) Send him
with us to-morrow into the field, that he may divert him-
self and sport, and we will be his guardians.

|| (13) Jacob answered, It grieveth me that ye take sum.
him away; and I fear lest the wolf devour him while "R %-.
ye are negligent of him. (14) They said, Surely if the
wolf devour him, when there are so many of us, we shall

Muhammad how Jacob's family happened to go into Egypt, and
that he would relate to them the story of Joseph, whereupon this
chapter was revealed.

(8) His brother, Benjamin.

(9) Cleared toicards you, i.e., " He will settle his love wholly upon
you, and ye will have no rival in his favour." Sale.

(10) One of them. " This person, as some say, was Judah, the most
prudent and noble-minded of them all ; or, according to others,
Reuben, whom the Muhammadan writers call Rubli. And both
these opinions are supported by the account of Moses, who tells us
that Reuben advised them not to kill Joseph, but to throw him into
a pit, privately intending to release him ; and that afterwards Judah,
in Reuben's absence, persuaded them not to let him die in a pit, but
to sell him to the Ishmaelites (Gen. xxxvii. 21, 22, 26, 27)." Sale.

Note that all this is here represented as having taken place before
Joseph was sent to them in the wilderness.

(12) And sport. " Some copies read, in the first person plural,
that ice may divert ourselves, &c. Sale.

The Bible tells us that Jacob sent Joseph of his own accord, and
that he sent him, not with his brothers, but to search for them in
She<-hem, and to bring him news of his sons and the flock. The
whole passage, here, presumes Joseph to have been but a mere child.

(13) I fear lest the wolf devour him. "The reason why Jacob feared
this beast in particular, as the commentators say, was either because
the land was full of wolves, or else because Jacob had dreamed he
saw Joseph devoured by one of these creatures." Sale, Baidhdwi,
Jaldluddin, Zamakhshari.


be weak indeed. (15) And when they had carried him
with them, and agreed to set him at the bottom of the
well, they executed their design : and we sent a revelation
unto him, saying, Thou shalt hereafter declare this their
action unto them ; and they shall not perceive thee to be
Joseph. (16) And they came to their father at even,
weeping, (17) and said, Father, we went and ran races
with one another, and we left Joseph with our baggage,
and the wolf hath devoured him; but thou wilt not
believe us although we speak the truth. (18) And they
produced his inner garment stained with false blood.

This, with what follows in vers. 14, 15, also contradicts the Bible.

(15) Theicell. *' This well, say some, was a certain well near Jeru-
salem, or not far from the river Jordan ; but others call it the well
of Egypt or Midian. The commentators tell us that, when the sons
of Jacob had gotten Joseph with them in the field, they began to
abuse and beat him so unmercifully, that they had killed him had
not Judah, on his crying out for help, insisted on the promise they
had made not to kill him, but to cast him into the well. Where-
upon they let him down a little way ; but, as he held by the sides
of the well, they bound him, and took off his inner garment, design-
ing to stain it with blood, to deceive their father. Joseph begged
hard to have his garment returned him, but to no purpose, nis
brothers telling him, with a sneer, that the eleven stars and the sun
and the moon might clothe him and keep him company. When they
had let him down half-way, they let him fall thence to the bottom,
and there being water in the well (though the Scripture says the
contrary), he was obliged to get upon a stone, on which, as he stood
weeping, the Angel Gabriel came to him with the revelation men-
tioned immediately." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldhuldln, and Zamakhshari.

The commentators have added many particulars to the account
given in the Quran, which they have learned from Jewish sources.

A revelation to him. " Joseph being then but seventeen years old,
al Baidhdwi observes that herein he resembled John the Baptist and
Jesus, who were also favoured with the Divine communication very
early. The commentators pretend that Gabriel also clothed him in
the well with a garment of silk of paradise. For they say that when
Abraham was thrown into the tire by Nimrod, he was stripped ; and
that Gabriel brought this garment and put it on him ; and that from
Abraham it descended to Jacob, who folded it up and put it into an
amulet, which he hung about Joseph's neck, whence Gabriel drew it
out." Sale, Baidhdwi, (be.

(17) Ran races. "These races they used by way of exercise ; and
the commentators generally understand here that kind of race wherein
they also showed their dexterity in throwing darts, which is still
used in the East" Sale.

sipara xii.] ( 375 ) [CHAP. XII.

Jacob answered, Nay, but ye yourselves have contrived
the thing for your own sakes : however patience is most
becoming, and God's assistance is to be implored to enable
me to support the misfortune which ye relate. (19) And
certain travellers came, and sent one to draw water for
them ; and he let down his bucket, and said, Good news !
this is a youth. And they concealed him, that they might
sell him as a piece of merchandise ; but God knew that
which they did. (20) And they sold him for a mean
price, for a few pence, and valued him lightly.

(18) Yourselves have contrived, &c. "This Jacob had reason to
suspect, because, when the garment was brought to him, he observed
that, though it was bloody, yet it was not torn." Sale, Baidhdwi.

According to the Bible, Jacob said, "Without doubt Joseph is
rent in pieces" (Gen. xxxvii. 33).

(19) Certain travellers, viz., "a caravan or company travelling from
Midian to Egypt, who rested near the well three days after Joseph
had been thrown into it." Sale.

To draw water. The Bible says the well was dry (Gen. xxxvii. 24)

He let down. " The commentators are so exact as to give us the
name of this man, who, as they pretend, was Malik Ibn Dhur, of the
tribe of Khudhaah." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Let down his bucket. " And Joseph, making use of the opportunity,
took hold of the cord, and was drawn up by the man." Sale.

Good news ! " The original words are Yd bushrd, the latter of which
some take for the proper name of the water-drawer's companion,
whom he called to his assistance ; and then they must be translated
O Bushra."- Sale.

Thei) concealed him. "The expositors are not agreed whether the

Eronoun 'they' relates to Malik and his companions or to Joseph's
rethren. They who espouse the former opinion say that those who
came to draw water concealed the manner of their coming by him
from the rest of the caravan, that they might keep him to them-
selves, pretending that some people of the place had given him to
them to sell for them in Ei, r ypt. And they who prefer the latter
opinion tell us that Judah carried victuals to Joseph every day while
he was in the well, but not finding him there on the fourth day, he
acquainted his brothers with it ; whereupon they all went to the
caravan and claimed Joseph as their slave, he not daring to discover
that he was their brother, lest something worse should befall him ;
and at length they agreed to sell him to them." Sale, Baidhdwi.

The only fair interpretation of this passage is that the travellers
hid him and sold him as a slave. The adverse opinion of the com-
mentators is due to their desire to make the account tally with the
story of Moses.

(20) A mean price. " Namely, twenty or twenty -two dirhems, and
those not of full weight neither ; for having weighed one ounce of
silver only, the remainder was paid by tale, which is the most un-


J* iV II (21) And the Egyptian who bought him said to his

wife, Use him honourably ; peradventure he may be ser-
viceable to us, or we may adopt him for our son. Thus
did we prepare an establishment for Joseph in the earth,
and we taught him the interpretation of dark sayings ; for
God is well able to effect his purpose, but the greater part
of men do not understand. (22) And when he had
attained his age of strength, we bestowed on him wisdom
and knowledge ; for thus do we recompense the righteous.
(23) And she in whose house he was desired him to lie
with her ; and she shut the doors and said, Come hither.
He answered, God forbid ! verily my lord hath made my
dwelling with him easy; and the ungrateful shall not
prosper. (24) But she resolved within herself to enjoy
him, and he would have resolved to enjoy her, had he not

fair way of payment." Sale, Baidhdwi. Compare with Gen. xxxvii.

(21) The Egyptian. " His name was Kitfir or Itfir (a corruption
of Potipher) ; and be was a man of great consideration, being super-
intendent of the royal treasury. The commentators say tbat Joseph
came into his service at seventeen, and lived with him thirteen years ;
and that he was made prime minister in the thirty-third year of
his age, and died at one hundred and twenty. They who suppose
Joseph was twice sold differ as to the price the Egyptian paid for
him, some saying it was twenty dinars of gold, a pair of shoes, and
two white garments ; and others, that it was a large quantity of silver
or of gold." Sale.

This person is usually called Aziz or Aziz-i-misr by the commen-
tators and Muslim writers in India.

His ivife. " Some call her Rail, but the name she is best known
by is that of Zulaikha." Sale.

We may adopt him. " Kitfir having no children. It is said that
Joseph gained his master's good opinion so suddenly by his counte-
nance, which Kitfir, who, they pretend, had great skill in physiog-
nomy, judged to indicate his prudence and other good qualities." Sale.

Dark sayings. See note on ver. 6.

(23) My lord, viz., " Kitfir. But others understand it to be spoken
of God." Sale.

(24) He would have resolved, dec This contradicts Gen. xxxix. 9 ;
but the story is founded on Jewish tradition, as given in the Baby-
lon Talmud, chap. Nashim, p. 36.

The evident demonstration, dbc. " That is, had he not seriously con-
sidered the filthiness of whoredom, and the great guilt thereof.
Some, however, suppose that the words mean some miraculous voice
or apparition, sent by God to divert Joseph from executing the

SIPARA XII.] ( 377 ) [CHAP. XII.

seen the evident demonstration of his Lord. So we
turned away evil and filthiness from him, because he was
one of our sincere servants. (25) And they ran to get one
before the other to the door, and she rent his inner garment
behind. And they met her lord at the door. She said,
What shall be the reward of him who seeketh to commit
evil in thy family but imprisonment and a painful punish-
ment ? (26) And Joseph said, She asked me to lie with
her. And a witness of her family bore witness, saying, If
his garment be rent before, she speaketh truth, and he is
a liar ;

|| (27) But if his garment be rent behind, she lieth, and K Ti*
he is a speaker of truth. (28) And when her husband
saw that his garment was torn behind, he said, This is a
cunning contrivance of your sex ; for surely your cunning
is great. (29) Joseph, take no further notice of this
affair : and thou, woman, ask pardon for thy crime, for

criminal thoughts which began to possess him. For they say that
he was so far tempted with his mistress's beauty and enticing beha-
viour, that he sat in her lap, and even began to undress himself,
when a voice called to him, and bid him beware of her ; but he
taking no notice of this admonition, though it was repeated three
times, at length the Angel Gabriel, or, as others will have it, the
figure of his master, appeared to him ; but the more general opinion
is that it was the apparition of his father Jacob, who bit his fingers'
ends, or, as some write, struck him on the breast, whereupon his
lubricity passed out at the ends of his fingers.

" For this fable, so injurious to the character of Joseph, the Mu-
hammadans are obtiged to their old friends the Jews, who imagine
that he had a design to lie with his mistress, from these words of
Moses : 'And it came to pass . . . that Joseph, went into the house
to do his business, &c." Sale, Baidhdivi, Jaldluddin, &c.

(25) They ran. " He flying from her, and she running after to
detain him." Sale.

She rent his garment behind. " Gen. xl. 1 5 reads, ' He left his
garment in her hand . . . and got him out.' The whole garment
was left, not torn. Her lord did not meet them at the door ; ver. 16
(of Gen.) says she laid up the garment by her till her lord came
home." Brinckman's Notes on Islam, p. 1 14.

(26) A witness of her family, viz., "a cousin of hers, who was then
a child in the cradle." Sale, Baidhdwi, d-c.

(28. 29) This is a cunning contrivance, &c. This decidedly contra-
dicts Gen. xxxix. 19 and 20, where it is said that Potipher believed
his wife's story, and in great wrath put Joseph in prison.

CHAP. XII.] ( 378 ) [SIPARA XII.

thou art a guilty person. (30) And certain women said
publicly in the city, The nobleman's wife asked her servant
to lie with her ; he hath inflamed her breast with his love ;
and we perceive her to be in manifest error. (31) And
when she heard of their subtle behaviour, she sent unto
them and prepared a banquet for them, and she gave to
each of them a knife; and she said unto Joseph, Come
forth unto them. And when they saw him they praised
him greatly, and they cut their own hands, and said,
God ! this is not a mortal ; he is no other than an angel,

(30) Certain women. u These women, whose tongues were so free
with Zulaikha's character on this occasion, were five in number, and
the wives of so many of the king's chief officers, viz., his chamberlain,
his butler, his baker, his jailer, and his herdsman." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(31) She sent unto them. " The number of all the women invited
was forty, and among them were the five ladies above mentioned."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

Savary says, " The Egyptian women frequently visit and give
entertainments to each other. Men are excluded. Only the slaves
necessary to wait on the company are admitted. The pleasures of
the table are succeeded by music and dancing. They are passion-
ately fond of both. The Alme", that is to say, the learned women,
are the delight of these entertainments. They sing verses in praise
of guests, and conclude with love-songs. They afterwards exhibit
voluptuous dances, the licentiousness of which is often carried to

They praised him (jreatly. "The old Latin translators have strangely
mistaken the sense of the original word akbarndho, which they render
menstruatce sunt; and then rebuke Muhammad for the indecency,
crying out demurely in the margin, Ofcedum et obscosnum prophetaml
Erpenius thinks that there is not the least trace of such a meaning
in the word ; but he is mistaken, for the verb kabara in the fourth
conjugation, which is here used, has that import, though the sub-
joining of the pronoun to it here (which possibly the Latin trans-
lators did not ooserve, absolutely overthrows that interpretation."

Cut their own hands. " Through extreme surprise at the wonder-
ful beauty of Joseph ; which surprise Zulaikha foreseeing, put knives
into their hands on purpose that this accident might happen. Some
writers observed, on occasion of this passage, that it is customary in
the East for lovers to testify the violence of their passion by cutting
themselves, as a sign that they would spend their blood in the service
of the person beloved ; which is true enough, but I do not find that
any of the commentators suppose these Egyptian ladies had any such

The Tafsir-i-RauJi says they were beside themselves, and went on
cutting their hands without feeling any pain.

sipara xii.] ( 379 ) [CHAP. XII.

deserving the highest respect. (32) And his mistress said,
This is he for whose sake ye blamed me ; I asked him to
lie with me, but he constantly refused. But if he do not
perform that which I command him, he shall surely be
cast into prison, and he shall be made one of the con-
temptible. (33) Joseph said, Lord, a prison is more
eligible unto me than the crime to which they invite me ;
but unless thou turn aside their snares from me, I shall
youthfully incline unto them, and I shall become one of
the foolish. (34) Wherefore his Lord heard him, and
turned aside their snare from him, for he both heareth and
knoweth. (35) And it seemed good unto them, even after
they had seen the signs of innocency, to imprison him for
a time.

|| (36) And there entered into the prison with him two R, ^
of the kings servants. One of them said, It seemed to me
in my dream that I pressed wine out of grapes. And the
other said, It seemed unto me in my dream that I carried
bread on my head, whereof the birds did eat. Declare
unto us the interpretation of onr dreams, for we perceive
that thou art a beneficent person. (37) Joseph answered,
No food wherewith ye may be nourished shall come

(32-34) The spirit of these verses is not only opposed to the
history of Joseph as given in the Bible, but is unworthy of a book
claiming to be inspired. The conduct attributed to Potipher is con-
trary to reason and common sense.

(35) It seemed good unto them, &c. "That is to Kitfir and his
friends. The occasion of Joseph's imprisonment is said to be, either
that they suspected him to be guilty notwithstanding the proofs which
had been given of his innocence ; or else that Zulaikha desired it,
feigning, to deceive her husband, that she wanted to have Joseph
removed from her sight till she could conquer her passion by time,
though her real design was to force him to compliance." Sale,
Baidhdwi, <&c.

This is evidently said to account for the imprisonment of Joseph.
The excellency of the style and matter of the Quran are hardly
perceptible here.

(36) Two of the king's servants, viz., " his chief butler and baker,
who were accused of a design to poison him." Sale.

One of them, viz., the butler.

(37) No food, dec. " The meaning of this passage seems to be.


unto you, but I will declare unto you the interpretation
thereof before it come uuto you. This knowledge is a
part of that which my Lord hath taught me ; for I
have left the religion of people who believe not in
God, and who deny the life to come, (38) and I follow
the religion of my fathers, Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob. It is not lawful for us to associate anything
with God. This knowledge of the divine unity hath
been given us of the bounty of God towards us and
towards mankind; but the greater part of men are not
thankful. (39) my fellow-prisoners,' are sundry lords
better or the only true and mighty God ? (40) Ye wor-
ship not, besides him other than the names which ye
have named, ye and your fathers, concerning which God
hath sent down no authoritative proof: yet judgment
bclongeth unto God alone, who hath commanded that ye
worship none besides him. This is the right religion ; but
the greater part of men know it not. (41) my fellow-
prisoners, verily the one of you shall serve wine unto his
lord as formerly ; but the other shall be crucified, and the
birds shall eat from off his head. The matter is decreed
concerning which ye seek to be informed. (42) And
Joseph said unto him whom he judged to be the person
who should escape of the two, Remember me in the pre-
sence of thy lord. But the devil caused him to forget

either that Joseph, to show he used no arts of divination or astrology,
promises to interpret their dreams to them immediately, even before
they should eat a single meal ; or else he here offers to prophesy to
them beforehand the quantity of the victuals which should be brought
them, as a test of his skill." Sale.

I liave left the religion, <kc. Muhammad here puts his own thoughts
and sayings into the mouth of Joseph.

(38) I follow tlie religion. It is noticeable the Quran here omits
the name of lshmael, showing how closely Muhammad followed the
tradition of the Jews.

(40) The names. See note on chap. vii. 72.

(i-2) The devil caused him to forget. i; According to the explication
of some, who take the pronoun him to relate to Joseph, this passage
may be rendered, ' But the devil caused him (i.e., Joseph) to forget
to make his application unto his Lord ; ' and to beg the good offices

SIPARA XII.] ( 381 ) [CHAP. XII.

to make mention of Joseph unto his lord, wherefore he
remained in the prison some years.

|| (43) And the king of Egypt said, Verily, I saw in my K Te'
dream seven fat kine, which seven lean kine devoured,
and seven green ears of corn, and other seven withered
ears. nobles, expound my vision unto me, if ye be able
to interpret a vision. (44) They answered, They are con-
fused dreams, neither are we skilled in the interpretation
of such kind of dreams. (45) And Joseph' s fellow-prisoner
who had been delivered, said (for he remembered Joseph
after a certain space of time), I will declare unto you the
interpretation thereof ; wherefore let me go unto the person
who will interpret it unto me. (46) And he went to the
prison, and said, Joseph, thou man of veracity, teach us
the interpretation of seven fat kine, which seven lean kine
devoured ; and of seven green ears of corn, and other seven
withered ears, which the king saw in his dream; that I .
may return unto the men who have sent me, that perad-
venture they may understand the same. (47) Joseph
answered, Ye shall sow seven years as usual; and the corn

of his fellow-prisoner for his deliverance, instead of relying on God
alone, as it became a prophet especially to have done." Sale.

Rodwell shows that the passage is derived from Jewish tradition.

Some years. " The original word signifying any number from
three to nine or ten, the common opinion is that Joseph remained
in prison seven years, though some say he was confined no less than
twelve years." Sale, Baidhawi, Jaldlucldln.

The period was two years. See Gen. xli. 1.

(43) The king of Egypt. " This prince, as the Oriental writers
generally agree, was Riyan, the son of al Walid, the Amalekite
(Prelim. Disc, p. 24), who was converted by Joseph to the worship
of the true God, and died in the lifetime of that prophet. But some
pretend that the Pharaoh of Joseph and of Moses were one and the

Online LibraryE. M. (Elwood Morris) WherryA comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) → online text (page 39 of 42)