وَجَٰوَزْنَا بِبَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ ٱلْبَحْرَ فَأَتَوْا۟ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَىٰٓ أَصْنَامٍ لَّهُمْ ۚ قَالُوا۟ يَٰمُوسَى ٱجْعَل لَّنَآ إِلَٰهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ ءَالِهَةٌ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ
Asad Quran Translation
AND WE BROUGHT the children of Israel across the sea; and thereupon they came upon people who were devoted to the worship of some idols of theirs.101
Said [the children of Israel]: "O Moses, set up for us a god even as they have gods!" He replied: "Verily, you are people without any awareness [of right and wrong]!
The Qur'an does not say who those people were. It is, however, probable that they belonged to the group of Arabian tribes described in the Bible as "Amalekites", who inhabited southernmost Palestine, the adjoining regions of the Hijaz, and parts of the Sinai Peninsula.
Malik Quran Translation
We made the Children of Israel cross the (Red) sea. On their way they came across a people who were worshipping their idols. They said: "O Musa (Moses) fashion for us an Ilah (a god for worship) like the gods of these people." He replied: "You are indeed very ignorant people,
Yusuf Ali Quran Translation
We took the children of Israel (with safety) across the sea. They came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols they had. They said: "O Moses! fashion for us a god like unto the gods they have." He said: "surely ye are a people without knowledge. 1097
Who were these people? We are now in the Sinai Peninsula. Two conjectures are possible. (1) The Amalekites of the Sinai Peninsula were at perpetual war with the Israelites. They were probably an idolatrous nation, but we have very little knowledge of their cult. (2) From Egyptian history we know that Egypt had worked from very ancient times some copper mines in Sinai. An Egyptian settlement may have been here. Like all mining camps it contained from the beginning the dregs of the population. When the mines ceased to be worked, the settlement, or what remained of it, must have degenerated further. Cut off from civilisation, its cult must have become still narrower, without the refining influences which a progressive nation applies even to its idolatry. Perhaps Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, lost all its allegorical meaning for them, and only gross and superstitious rites remained among them. The text speaks of "some idols they had," implying that they had merely a detached fragment of a completer religion. This was a snare in the path of the Israelites, whom many generations of slavery in Egypt had debased into ignorance and superstition.
Mustafa Khattab Quran Translation
We brought the Children of Israel across the sea and they came upon a people devoted to idols. They demanded, “O Moses! Make for us a god like their gods.” He replied, “Indeed, you are a people acting ignorantly!
Piktal Quran Translation
And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and they came unto a people who were given up to idols which they had. They said: O Moses! Make for us a god even as they have gods. He said: Lo! ye are a folk who know not.
Wajawazna bibanee israeela albahra faataw AAala qawmin yaAAkufoona AAala asnamin lahum qaloo ya moosa ijAAal lana ilahan kama lahum alihatun qala innakum qawmun tajhaloona