And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man.”
Here is a pretty little idyll, told in the fewest and
most beautiful words possible.
Moses arrives at an oasis in the desert, weary and travel
worn, with his mind full of anxiety and uncertainty owing
to his recent experiences in Egypt. He was thirsty and
would naturally seek water. At the well or spring he
found shepherds (or perhaps goat-herds) watering their
As a stranger it was not for him to thrust himself among
them. He waited under the shade of a tree until they
should finish. He noticed two damsels, also waiting with
their flocks, which they had come to water. His chivalry
was roused. He went at once among the goat-herds,
made a place for the flocks of the damsels, gave them
water, and then resumed his place in the shade.
They were modest maidens, and had given him in three
Arabic words the key of the whole situation.
‘Abuna shaykhun Kabirun our father is a very old
man, and therefore cannot come to water the flocks; we
therefore do the work; we could not very well thrust
ourselves among these men.’
Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (surah 28 verse 23). Quran Arabic with English Translation & Commentary (Tafsir) by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Free Download (quran4u.com)