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

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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 40 of 42)
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same person, and that he lived (or rather reigned) four hundred

It can scarcely be disputed that the Quran teaches that the Pharaohs
of Joseph and of Moses are the same.

(47) The account here given of the interpretation of the king's
dreams is also contrary to the story of Moses. Here it is said the
butler asks Joseph the interpretation of the dreams, he yet being in
prison. The Bible says that Joseph explained the dream to Pharaoh
himself (Gen. xli. 15-37).

CHAP. XII.] ( 382 ) [SIPARA XII.

which ye shall reap do ye leave in its ear, except a little
whereof ye may eat (48) Then shall there come after
this seven grievous years of famine, which shall consume
what ye shall have laid up as a provision for the same,
except a little which ye shall have kept. (49) Then shall
there come after this a year wherein men shall have
plenty of rain, and wherein they shall press wine and oil.
R y || (50) And when the chief butler had reported this, the
king said, Bring him unto me. And when the messenger
came unto Joseph, he said, Return unto thy lord, and ask
of him what was the intent of the women who cut their
hands ; for my Loud well knoweth the snare which they
laid for me. (51) And tvhen the women were assembled
before the king, he said unto them, What was your design

Leave in its ear. Baidhawi says in order " to preserve it from the
weevil." Sale.

(49) Plenty of rain. " Notwithstanding what some ancient authors
write to the contrary (Plato in Timeeo, Pomp. Mela.), it often rains
in winter in the Lower Egypt, and even snow has heen observed
to fall at Alexandria, contrary to the express assertion of Seneca
(Nat. Qucest., 1. 4). In the Upper Egypt, indeed, towards the cata-
racts of the Nile, it rains very seldom (Greave's Dtscrip. of the
Pyramids, p. 74, &c.) Some, however, suppose that the rains here
mentioned are intended of those which should fall in Ethiopia and
occasion the swelling of the Nile, the great cause of the fertility of
Egypt ; or else of those which should fall in the neighbouring
countries, which were also afflicted with famine during the same
time." Sale.

The statement of the text is certainly a mistake, testifying to the
fallibility of the Prophet.

(50) Return unto thy lord, dec. This passage seems to say that
Puiipher, the lord of Joseph, was identical with the king of Egypt
Rod well's translation gives this meaning. See Rodwell, v. 51.

The women who cut their hands. "Joseph, it seems, cared not to

fet out of prison till his innocence was publicly known and declared,
t is observed by the commentators that Joseph does not bid the
messenger move the king to inform himself of the truth of the affair,
but bids him directly to ask the king, to incite him to make the

S roper inquiry with the greater earnestness. They also observe that
oseph takes care not to mention his mistress, out of respect and
gratitude for the favours he had received while in her house."

(51) What was your design. Note that the five women who came
to Zulaikha's feast are here charged with the same crime as she.
Sacred writ knows nothing of this.


when ye solicited Joseph to unlawful love? They
answered, God be praised ! we know not any ill of him.
The nobleman's wife said, Now is the truth become mani-
fest : I solicited him to lie with me ; and he is one of those
who speak truth. (52) And when Joseph was acquainted
therewith he said, This discovery hath been made that my
lord might know that I was not unfaithful unto him
in his absence, and that God directeth not the plot of
the deceivers.

|| (53) Neither do I absolutely justify myself : since gfp 1 ^ 1 *'
every soul is prone unto evil, except those on whom my
Lord shall show mercy ; for my Lord is gracious and
merciful. (54) And the king said, Bring him unto me :
I will take him into my own peculiar service. And when
Joseph was brought unto the king, and he had discoursed
with him, he said, Thou art this day firmly established

Now is the truth become manifest. There seems to be here a clear
contradiction of ver. 28 and onward. There Zulaikha's guilt was
manifested not only to her husband, whom I believe to be the king
or prince mentioned here, but was spread abroad throughout the
whole city. Here, however, she is made to confess the crime for the
first time, and Joseph is made to express satisfaction at a confession
which at last sets him in a right light before his lord.

(52) That my lord might know, dec. This verse also confirms the
view expressed above, ver. 50, that Joseph's lord and the Icing are
the same.

(53) Neither do I justify myself. " According to a tradition of Ibn
Abbas, Joseph had no sooner spoken the foregoing words asserting
his innocency, than Gabriel said to him, 'What ! not when thou
wast deliberating to lie with her ? ' Upon which Joseph confessed
his frailty." Sale, Eaidhawi.

See also note on ver. 24.

(54) Bring him unto me, dec. Joseph is here said to have been
released from prison after the interpretation of the dreams. Gen.
xli. 14 says he was released before.

Tlwu art this day, dec. " The commentators say that Joseph being
taken out of prison, after he had washed and changed his clothes,
was introduced to the king, whom he saluted in the Hebrew tongue,
and on the king's asking what language that was, he answered that
it was the language of his fathers. This prince, they say, understood
no less than seventy languages, in every one of which he discoursed
with Joseph, who answered him in the same ; at which the king,
greatly marvelling, desired him to relate his dream, which he did,
describing the most minute circumstances : whereupon the king
placed Joseph by him on his throne, and made him his Wazir or


with us, and shult be intrusted vritk our affairs. (55)
Joseph answered, Set me over the storehouses of the land ;
for I will be a skilful keeper thereof. (56) Thus did we
establish Joseph in the land, that he might provide him-
self a dwelling therein where he pleased. We bestow our
mercy on whom we please, and we suffer not the reward
of the righteous to perish ; (57) and certainly the reward
of the next life is better for those who believe and fear
R $ II (58) Moreover, Joseph's brethren came, and went in
unto him ; and he knew them, but they knew not him.

chief minister. Some say that his master Kitfir dying about this
time, he not only succeeded him in his place, but, by the king's
command, married the widow, his late mistress, whom he found to
be a virgin, and who bare him Ephraiin and Manasses. So that,
according to this tradition, she was the same woman who is called
Asenath by Moses. This supposed marriage, which authorised their
amours, probably encouraged the Muhammadan divines to make use
of the loves of Joseph and Zulaikha as an allegorical emblem of the
spiritual love between the Creator and the creature, God and the
soul, just as the Christians apply the Song of Solomon to the same
mystical purpose." Vide D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., art. Jousouf.
Sale, Baidhdwi.

This is the popular Muhammadan view, crystallised in the cele-
brated poem " Yusuf and Zulaikha." The mystical use of the story
alludedto by Sale is only prevalent among the Sufi sect of Muslims,
who, being Pantheists, apply it very differently from the way
Christians interpret and apply the Song of Solomon.

(55) Joseph's reputation for modesty suffers sadly at the hands of
the Quran. His character stands out in a very different light in

(58) Joseph's brethren came. "Joseph, being made Warfr, governed
with great wisdom ; for he not only caused justice to be impartially
administered, and encouraged the people to industry and the im-
provement of agriculture during the seven years of plenty, but began
and perfected several works of great benefit ; tlie natives at this day
ascribing to the patriarch Joseph almost all the ancient works of
public utility throughout the kingdom, as particularly the rendering
the province of al Faiyum from a standing pool or marsh the most
fertile and best-cultivated land in all Egypt. When the years of
famine came, the effects of which were felt not only in Egypt, but in
Syria and the neighlxniring countries, the inhabitants were obliged
to apply to Joseph for corn, whicli he sold to them first for their
money, jewels, and ornaments, then for their cattle and lands, and
at length for their persons ; so that all the Egyptians in general be-


(59) And when he had furnished them with their pro-
visions, he said, Bring unto me your brother, the son of
your father; do ye not see that I give full measure, and that
I am the most hospitable receiver of guests ? (60) But if
ye bring him not unto me, there shall be no corn measured
unto you from me, neither shall ye approach my presence.
(61) They answered, We will endeavour to obtain him of
his father, and we will certainly perform what thou re-
quirest. And (62) Joseph said to his servants, Put their
money which they have paid for their corn into their sacks,
that they may perceive it when they shall be returned to

came slaves to the king, though Joseph, by his consent, soon released
them, and returned them their substance. The dearth being felt in
the land of Canaan, Jacob sent all his sons, except only Benjamin,
into Egypt for corn. On their arrival, Joseph (who well knew them)
asked them who they were, saying he suspected them to be spies ;
but they told him they came only to buy provisions, and that they
were all the sons of an ancient man, named Jacob, who was also a
prophet. Joseph then asked how many brothers there were of
them ; they answered, Twelve ; but that one of them had been lost
in a desert. Upon which he inquired for the eleventh brother,
there being no more than ten of them present. They said he was a
lad, and with their father, whose fondness for him would not suffer
him to accompany them in their journey. At length Joseph asked
them who they had to vouch for their veracity ; but they told him
they knew no man who could vouch for them in Egypt. Then,
replied he, one of you shall stay behind with me as a pledge, and
the others may return home with their provisions ; and when ye
come again, ye shall bring your younger brother with you, that I
may know ye have told me the truth. Whereupon, it being in vain
to dispute the matter, they cast lots who should stay behind, and
the lot fell upon Simeon. When they departed, Joseph gave each
of them a camel, and another for their brother." Sale, Baidhdwi.

This comment shows how the commentators have supplemented
the Quran by reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. A strong
argument against the Quran may be drawn from this very use of the
Old Testament Scriptures by Muslim commentators, thus attesting
the credibility of the book, which is contradicted by the very Quran
they would illustrate by reference to it.

(62) Their money. " The original word signifying not only money,
but also goods bartered or given in exchange for other merchandise,
some commentators tell us that they paid for their corn, not in
money, but in shoes and dressed skins." Sale, Baidhdwi.

There can be no doubt about the word meaning money here, for
how could shoes and skins be put into the grain bags so as not to be
discovered until their return ]

VOL. II. 2 B


their family, peradventure they will come back unto us.
(63) And when they were returned unto their father
they said, father, it is forbidden to measure out corn
unto us any more unless we carry our brother Benjamin
with us: wherefore send our brother with us and we
shall have corn measured unto us ; and we will certainly
guard him from any mischance. (64) Jacob answered,
Shall I trust him with you with any better success than I
trusted your brother Joseph with you heretofore? Bat
God is the best guardian, and he is the most merciful
of those that show mercy. (65) And when they opened
their provision, they found their money had been returned
unto them ; and they said, father, what do we desire
further ? this our money hath been returned unto us ; we
will therefore return, and provide corn for our family ; we
will take care of our brother ; and we shall receive a camel's
burden more than wc did the last time. This is a small
quantity. (66) Jacob said, I will by no means send him
with you, until ye give me a solemn promise, and swear
by God that ye will certainly bring him back unto me,
unless ye be encompassed by some inevitable impediment.
And when they had given him their solemn promise, he
said, God is witness of what we say. (67) And he said,
My sons, enter not into the city by one and the same gate,

(65) father, <fee. Gen. xlii. 25-35 represents this matter very
differently. 1. The discovery of a portion of the returned money
occurred on the journey. 2. A similar discovery as to the rest
of the purchase-money occurred on the opening of the sacks at
Jacob's dwelling. 3. Instead of joy, all were filled with fear.

This is a small quantity. "The meaning may be, either that the
corn they now brought was not sufficient for the support of their
families, so that it was necessary for them to take another journey,
or else that a camel's load more or less was but a trifle to the king
of Egypt. Some suppose these to be the words of Jacob, declaring
it was too mean a consideration to induce him to part with his son.

(66) This also contradicts Gen^xlii. 36-xliii. J4.

(67) Ei

Enter not by one gate. This, says the Tiifsir-i-Raufi, was to
prevent their appearing in such number and grandeur as to excite
the suspicion of the Egyptians. There seems to be a hint here to


but enter by different gates. But this precaution will be
of no advantage unto you against the decree o/"God; for
judgment belongeth unto God alone : in him do I put my
trust, and in him let those confide who seek in whom, to
put their trust. (68) And when they entered the city, as
their father had commanded them, it was of no advantage
unto them against the decree of God, and the same served
only to satisfy the desire of Jacob's soul, which he had
charged them to perform : for he was endued with know-
ledge of that which we had taught him ; but the greater
part of men do not understand.

|| (69) And when they entered into the presence of K "3"-
Joseph, he received his brother Benjamin as his guest,
and said, Verily I am thy brother, be not therefore afflicted
for that which they have committed against us. (70) And
when he had furnished them with their provisions, he put
his cup in his brother Benjamin's sack. Then a crier cried
after them, saying, O company of travellers, ye are surely
thieves. (71) They said (and turned back unto them),
What is it that ye miss ? (72) They answered, We miss

Joseph's charge against them that they were spies in the land. The
text is found verbatim in Midr. Rabba on Genesis, par. 91.

(69) I am thy brother. " It is related that Joseph, having invited
his brethren to an entertainment, ordered them to be placed two and
two together, by which means Benjamin, the eleventh, was obliged
to sit alone, and bursting into tears, said, ' If my brother Joseph
were alive, he would have sat with me.' Whereupon Joseph ordered
him to be seated at the same table with himself, and when the
entertainment was over, dismissed the rest, ordering that they should
be lodged two and two in a house, but kept Benjamin in his own
apartment, where he passed the night. The next day Joseph asked
him whether he would accept of himself for his brother in the room
of him whom he had lost, to which Benjamin replied, 'Who can
find a brother comparable unto thee 1 yet thou art not the son of
Jacob, and Rachel.' And upon this Joseph discovered himself to
him." Sale, Baidhdwi.

This contradiction of Gen. xlv. 1 is also drawn from Rabbinical
sources. See reference in Rod well.

(70) His cup. " Some imagine this to be a measure holding a saa
(or about a gallon), wherein they used to measure corn or give water
to the beasts. But others take it to be a drinking-cup of silver or
gold." Sale.


the prince's cup ; and unto him who shall produce it shall
be given a camel's load of corn, and I will be surety for the
same. (73) Joseph's brethren replied, By God, ye do well
know that we come not to act corruptly in the land,
neither are we thieves. (74) The Egyptians said, What
shall be the reward of him who sliall appear to have stolen
the cup, if ye be found liars ? (75) Joseph's brethren
answered, As to the reward of him in whose sack it shall
be found, let him become a bondman in satisfaction of the
same : thus do we reward the unjust wlw are guilty of
theft. (76) Then he began by their sacks, before he
searched the sack of his brother ; and he drew out the cup
from his brother's sack. Thus did we furnish Joseph
with a stratagem. It was not lawful for him to take his
brother for a bondman by the law of the king of Egypt,
had not God pleased to allow it, according to the offer of his
brethren. We exalt to degrees of knowledge and honour
whom we please ; and there is one who is knowing above
all those who are endued with knowledge. (77) His
brethren said, If Benjamin be guilty of theft, his brother
Joseph hath been also guilty of theft heretofore. But Joseph

(73) Ye do well know, dec. " Both by our behaviour among you,
and our bringing again our money, which was returned to us with-
out our knowledge. Sale.

(7i>) Thus do we reward the unjust. "This was the method of

gunishing theft used by Jacob and his family; for among the
gyptians it was punished in another manner." Sale.

(76) Then he began, dec. " Some suppose this search was made by
the person whom Jacob sent after them ; others, by Joseph himself
when they were brought back to the city." Sale.

It was not lawful, dec. " For there the thief was not reduced to
servitude, but was scourged, and obliged to restore the double of
what he had stolen." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

(77) His brother Joseph hath been also guilty, dec. " The occasion
of this suspicion, it is said, was, that Joseph having been brought up
by his father's sister, she became so fond of him, that when he grew
up, and Jacob designed to take him from her, she contrived the
following stratagem to keep him. Having a girdle which had once
belonged to Abraham, she girt it about the child, and then pretend-
ing she had lost it, caused strict search to be made for it ; and it
being at length found on Joseph, he was adjudged, according to the
above-mentioned law of the family, to be delivered to her as her


concealed these things in his mind, and did not discover
them unto them : and he said within himself, Ye are in a
worse condition than us two ; and God best knoweth what
ye discourse about. (78) They said unto Joseph, Noble
lord, verily this lad hath an aged father ; wherefore take
one of us in his stead ; for we perceive that thou art a
beneficent person. (79) Joseph answered, God forbid that
we should take any other than him with whom we found
our goods ; for then should we certainly he unjust.

|| (80) And when they despaired of obtaining Benjamin, K ~4~
they retired to confer privately together. And the elder
of them said, Do ye not know that your father hath
received a solemn promise from you, in the name of God,
and how perfidiously ye behaved heretofore towards
Joseph ? Wherefore I will by no means depart the land
of Egypt until my father give me leave to return unto
him, or God maketh known his will to me ; for he is the
best judge. (81) Eeturn ye to your father and say,
father, verily thy son hath committed theft ; we bear wit-
ness of no more than what we know, and we could not
guard against what we did not foresee : (82) and do thou

property. Some, however, say that Joseph actually stole an idol
of gold, which belonged to his mother's lather, and destroyed it ; a
story probably taken from Rachel's stealing the images of Laban :
and others tell us that he once stole a goat or a hen to give to a
poor man." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

Rodwell thinks this portion of the chapter is founded upon some
such tradition as Midr. Itabba., par. 92. See Rodwell in loco.

God best knoweth ichat ye discourse. According to the Tafslr-i-Raufi,
some authorities say that one of Joseph's brethren became quite
violent, whereupon Joseph descended from the throne and threw
him down, saying, " ye Canaanites, ye boast yourselves and think
none can conquer you." Thus they account for the humble tone of
their address in ver. 78.

(80) The elder, viz., " Reuben. But some think Simeon or Judah
to be here meant ; and instead of the elder, interpret it the most prudent
of them." Sale.

These various explanations of the word kabira would never have
been heard of but for the desire to reconcile the passage with Gen.
xliv. 16-18. See above on ver. 58.

(81) Return ye to your father. There is here probably a confused
reference to the imprisonment of Simeon (Gen. xlii. 24).


inquire in the city where we have been, and of the com-
pany of merchants with whom we are arrived, and tlwu
wilt find that we speak the truth. (83) And ivhen they
were returned, and had spoken thus to their father, he said,
Nay, but rather ye yourselves have contrived the thing
for your own sakes, but patience is most proper for me;
peradventure God will restore them all unto me ; for he
is knowing and wise. (84) And he turned from them
and said, Oh how I am grieved for Joseph ! And his
eyes become white with mourning, he being oppressed
with deep sorrow. (85) His sons said, By God, thou
wilt not cease to remember Joseph until thou be
brought to death's door, or thou be actually destroyed
by excessive affliction. (86) He answered, I only represent
my grief, which I am not able to contain, and my
sorrow unto God; but I know by revelation from God
that which ye know not. (87) my sons, go and make
inquiry after Joseph and his brother ; and despair not of
the mercy of God ; for none despaireth of God's mercy
except the unbelieving people. (88) Wherefore Joseph's
brethren returned into Egypt ; and when they came into

(83) Ye yourselves have contrived the thing. See the. same words in
ver. 18 above.

God will restore them all unto me, i.e., Joseph, Benjamin, and "the
elder" brother, who, according to the commentators, should be
Judah. See Tafsir-i-Ravfi.

(84) His eyes became white. " That is, the pupils lost their deep
blackness and became of a pearl colour (as happens in suffusions),
by his continual weeping ; which very much weakened his sight,
or, as some pretend, made him quite blind." Sale, BaidhdwL

(85) This passage is probably based on Gen. xliii. 2-9.

(86) But I knoic, <kc, viz., "that Joseph is yet alive ; of which
some tell us he was assured by the angel of death in a dream, though
others suppose he depended on the completion of Joseph's dream,
which must have been frustrated had he died before his brethren
had bowed down before him." Sale, Baidhdwi.

It is difficult to reconcile this interpretation with that of ver. 84,
though, in consideration of what follows (ver. 97), we must regard it
as correct

(87) Joseph and his brethren. This passage contradicts the whole
spirit of the Bible story of Joseph.


his presence they said, Noble lord, the famine is felt by us
and our family, and we are come with a small sum of
money ; yet give unto us full measure, and bestow com
upon us as alms, for God rewardeth the almsgivers. (89)
Joseph said unto them, Do ye know what ye did unto
Joseph and his brother, when ye were ignorant of the, con-
sequences thereof? (90) They answered, Art thou really
Joseph ? He replied, I am Joseph, and this is my brother.
Now hath God been gracious unto us. For whoso feareth
God and persevereth with patience shall at length find
relief, since God will not suffer the reward of the righteous
to perish. (91) They said, By God, now hath God chosen
thee above us, and we have surely been sinners. (92)
Joseph answered, Let there be no reproach cast on you this
day. God forgiveth you, for he is the most merciful of
those who show mercy. (93) Depart ye with this my
inner garment, and throw it on my father's face, and he

(88) With a small sum. " Their money being clipped and adulte-
rated. Some, however, imagine they did not bring money, but goods
to barter, such as wool and butter, or other commodities of small

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 40 of 42)