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20:40 The Childhood of Moses

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“Behold! thy sister goeth forth and saith, ‘shall I show you one who will nurse and rear the (child)?’ So We brought thee back to thy mother, that her eye might be cooled and she should not grieve. Then thou didst slay a man, but We saved thee from trouble, and We tried thee in various ways. Then didst thou tarry a number of years with the people of Midian. Then didst thou come hither as ordained, O Moses!

Yusuf Ali writes,

We may suppose that the anxious mother, after
the child was floated on the water, sent the child’s sister
to follow the chest from the bank and see where and by
whom it was picked up. When it was picked up by
Pharaoh’s own family and they seemed to love the child,
she appeared like a stranger before them, and said,
“Shall I search out a good wet-nurse for the child, that
she may rear the child you are going to adopt?”
That was exactly what they wanted. She ran home and
told her mother. The mother was delighted to come and
fold the infant in her arms again and feed it at her own
breast, and all openly and without any concealment.

According to the Study Quran,

Cf. 28:11–13. God is said to have caused the infant Moses to refuse to
be suckled by anyone other than his mother, and thus Moses’sister, who in 28:11
is told by their mother to follow Moses and is described as watching him from a
distance while the household of Pharaoh were unaware, directed them to
someone who could suckle him, namely Moses’ mother; see 28:12c. Moses’
being returned to his mother is seen as a fulfillment of God’s Promise that He
would return him to her; see 28:7: Surely We shall bring him back to you and
make him one of the messengers. Read in connection with 19:24–26, which
speaks of God’s comforting Mary during her labor pains, the present verse is an
indication of the great compassion and care that God has for the suffering of
mothers. Although God’s comforting Moses’ mother and Mary during their labor
is not directly connected to the success of the prophetic missions of their sons
(Moses and Jesus respectively), it is done purely out of compassion for the pain
that these mothers had to suffer for the sake of their sons.
For the incident of Moses’ slaying an Egyptian and what ensued from this
event, including Moses’ flight from Egypt, see commentary on 28:15–20. We
tried thee with trials refers to the many great trials by which God tested Moses,
one after the other, from the time he was saved from Pharaoh’s slaughtering the
male children of the Israelites to his eventual escape from Egypt and his time in
the wilderness, where he was without riding beast or provisions. It is understood
by some that God had made Moses undergo all of these trials to prepare him to
become a prophet and messenger (Aj). For the time Moses spent among the
people of Midian, which is said to have been twenty-eight years in total (Aj, Q),
see commentary on 28:21–28. The last part of this verse, where God tells Moses
that he had come to the valley to meet Him as determined, means that God had
ordained for Moses both the path that would lead to knowledge of Him and the
time in which its attainment would occur; thus, Moses’ arrival at the valley
where he met God was in accordance with the Divine Decree (Su).


Nasr, Hossein (2015). Study Quran.

Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (surah 20 verse 40)Quran Arabic with English Translation & Commentary (Tafsir) by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Free Download (

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