So We sent (plagues) on them: Wholesale death, Locusts, Lice, Frogs, And Blood: Signs openly self-explained: but they were steeped in arrogance,- a people given to sin. (verse 133)
Every time the penalty fell on them, they said: “O Moses! on your behalf call on thy Lord in virtue of his promise to thee: If thou wilt remove the penalty from us, we shall truly believe in thee, and we shall send away the Children of Israel with thee.” (verse 134)
But every time We removed the penalty from them according to a fixed term which they had to fulfil,- Behold! they broke their word! (verse 135)
So We exacted retribution from them: We drowned them in the sea, because they rejected Our Signs and failed to take warning from them. (verse 136)
The above verses relate the next part of the story of the prophet Musa (pbuh) and the people of Pharaoh. According to historical reports, the prophet Musa (pbuh) stayed in Egypt for 20 years. He
kept preaching consistently and conveyed the message of Allah to
them. He was given nine miracles during his stay in Egypt which
served as warnings to the people of Pharaoh. The Holy Quran has
referred to the nine miracles in these words “Surely, We gave him nine miracles.”
Out of the nine miracles, two were performed before Pharaoh and
his people. The third miracle was of famine reported in verse 130. The
above verses speak of the remaining six miracles. The verse 133 has
mentioned five punishments coming to the people of Pharaoh. All
these punishments have been termed as ‘signs distinct from each
other.’ According to the comments of the respected Companion
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas each of these punishments lasted for a fixed
period of time followed by a period of relief followed by the next
Ibn-al-Mundhir has cited from the Companion ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas that each punishment lasted for seven days starting from Saturday, then they were given three weeks of relief. Imam al-Baghawi, citing the Companion ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said that the first time when they were relieved of famine by asking the prophet Musa (pbuh) to pray Allah for their relief, they did not keep the promise of believing in Allah. The prophet Musa (pbuh) prayed Allah that they may be inflicted with some painful punishment so that it serves as a lesson to
his people and to their descendants. Allah first sent a storm upon
them. According to great commentators, this was a flood. All the lands
and houses of the people of Pharaoh were filled and surrounded by the
water leaving for them no place for farming and living in their homes.
The strange thing about it was that the lands and houses of the Israelites were not affected by the water of the flood.
In a state of great distress they came to the prophet Musa (pbuh)
and requested him to pray Allah for their relief from this calamity.
They promised that if they are relieved from the flood they would
embrace faith in Allah and let the Israelites go with him from Egypt.
The prayer of the prophet was acceded to and the storm subsided. It is
reported that their fields were more fertile and productive than before.
Again they did not keep their promise and said that the storm was not
a punishment from Allah. Rather it came to their benefit and the
increase in the produce was the result of the flood and that Musa (pbuh) had nothing to do with it.
A period of respite was given to them to reflect and realize their
error. After a period of one month another punishment was sent to
them in the form of locusts which ate up all the crops and fruits. Some
reports say that the locusts devoured even their doors and roofs made
of wood and other things of their houses. Again they were surprised to
notice that the locusts did not do any harm to the houses and fields of
the Israelites which were quite close to them. Once again they cried for
help and implored to the prophet Muss (pbuh) to pray his Lord for
taking away this punishment from them and that they make firm
promise to believe in him and free the Israelites after their relief. The
prophet Musa (pbuh) prayed Allah for their relief again and they got
rid of this chastisement.
Seeing that they were left with enough grain to suffice them for
one year, they turned against their promise and showed arrogance as
before. Once again, a period of peace and relief followed. The third
punishment came to them of ‘Qummal’ rendered here as pest. Qummal
in Arabic is used for ‘louse’ as well as for an insect which eats up grain. It is possible that both kinds of insects were sent to them, that is, small pests started to eat up their grain while equally large number
of lice ate up even their hair and eyelashes. Exasperated as they were,
they came again to prophet Musa (pbuh) and asked him to pray Allah
for their riddance, promising again their acceptance of the true faith
and release of the Israelites. He prayed Allah for their relief and Allah
relieved them of this punishment too.
The fourth punishment was of the frogs. The frogs were created in
such a large number in their houses that they covered them up to their
necks. The frogs covered them in their beds when they came to sleep.
All of their cooking pans and utensils and their household were full of
frogs. Being highly disgusted with this situation they came again to prophet Musa (pbuh), with all their old promises, and asked him to pray for their deliverance. This time also they were relieved of this
punishment. They were given enough time to correct themselves but
those who incur Allah’s wrath are deprived of positive thinking. This
time when they were in peace they said that they were sure that Musa
(pbuh) was a sorcerer and not a messenger of Allah. Those mishaps to
them were the effect of his sorcery.
After a month of relief the next punishment visiting them was that
of blood. Everything of their use turned into blood. Their drinks, their
food and their water became all blood before they could use them. As
they took out water from the wells or tanks it turned into blood.
History has reported it was strange that whenever the Egyptians and
the Israelites sat together for meal the morsel of food taken by the
Egyptian became all blood, while the one taken by an Israelite did not
change. This punishment too lasted for seven days. They were relieved
of this punishment through the prayer of the Prophet Musa (pbuh),
after their usual false promises.
The people of Pharaoh were subjected to the above five punishments one after another but they persisted in their arrogance and showed no sign of taking lesson from these warnings. The sixth punishment has been mentioned in the Qur’an by the Arabic word: ‘Rijz’ which signifies plague or pestilence. The number of Egyptians
killed in this plague is reported to have been more than seventy thousand. They were relieved of this punishment by the prayer of the prophet Musa (pbuh). Again they broke their promise as before. Now,
when they showed no sign of understanding they were finally caught
by the last punishment – the death. Leaving behind all their lands,
houses and possessions they chased the prophet Musa (pbuh) and his
people and were drowned in the sea.
Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .4 surah 7 verses 133-136). English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-4.pdf (islamicweblibrary.com)