And remember, We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord.
The following excerpt is taken from “Tafsir Ibn Kathir” surah al baqarah surah 2 verse 49:
Allah said to the Children of Israel, “Remember My favor on you
And (remember) when We delivered you from Fir`awn’s
(Pharaoh) people, who were afflicting you with a horrible
meaning, `I – Allah – saved you from them and
delivered you from their hands in the company of
Musa, after they subjected you to horrible
This favor came after the cursed Pharaoh had a dream in
which he saw a fire emerge from Bayt Al-Maqdis
(Jerusalem), and then the fire entered the houses of the
Coptics in Egypt, with the exception of the Children of Israel. Its purport was that his kingship would be toppled
by a man among the Children of Israel.
It was also said that some of Pharaoh’s entourage said
that the Children of Israel were expecting a man among
them to arise who would establish a state for them. We
will mention the Hadith on this subject when we explain
Surah Ta Ha, Allah willing.
After the dream, Pharaoh ordered that every newborn
male among the Children of Israel be killed and that the
girls be left alone. He also commanded that the Children
of Israel be given tasks of hard labor and assigned the
most humiliating jobs.
The torment here refers to killing the male
In Surah Ibrahim this meaning is clearly mentioned
Who were afflicting you with horrible torment,
and were slaughtering your sons and letting your
women live. (14:6)
We will explain this Ayah in the beginning of
Surah Al-Qasas, Allah willing, and our reliance
and trust are with Him.
The meaning of, (who were afflicting you) is,
“They humiliated you,” as Abu Ubaydah stated.
It was also said that it means, “They used to
exaggerate in tormenting you” according to Al Qurtubi.
As for Allah saying, killing your sons and sparing your women,
that explains His statement, (who were afflicting you with horrible torment) then it explains the meaning of the favor He gave them, as mentioned in His statement, Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you).
As for what Allah said in Surah Ibrahim, (And remind them of the annals of Allah), (14:5)
meaning, the favors and blessing He granted them,
He then said,
Who were afflicting you with
horrible torment, and were slaughtering your
sons and letting your women live), (14:6).
So Allah mentioned saving their children from being
slaughtered in order to remind them of the many favors
that He granted them.
We should state here that Pharaoh (Fir`awn) is a title
that was given to every disbelieving king who ruled
Egypt, whether from the Amaliq (Canaanites) or
otherwise, just as Caesar (Qaysar) is the title of the
disbelieving kings who ruled Rome and Damascus. Also,
Khosrau (Kisra) is the title of the kings who ruled Persia,
while Tubba is the title of the kings of Yemen, and the
kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) were called Negus (An Najashi).
And therein was a mighty trial from your Lord.)
Ibn Jarir commented that this part of the Ayah means,
“Our saving your fathers from the torment that
they suffered by the hand of Pharaoh, is a great
blessing from your Lord.”
We should mention that in the blessing there a is test,
the same as with hardship, for Allah said,
And We shall make a trial of you with evil and
with good. (21:35)
And We tried them with good (blessings) and evil
(calamities) in order that they might turn (to
obey Allah). (7:168).
Kathir, Ibn. Tafsir Ibn Kathir. (surah 2 verse 49). https://archive.org/details/TafseerIbnKathirenglish114SurahsComplete