And Moses chose seventy of his people for Our place of meeting: when they were seized with violent quaking he prayed: "O my Lord! if it had been Thy will Thou couldst have destroyed long before both them and me: wouldst Thou destroy us for the deeds of the foolish one among us? This is no more than Thy trial: by it Thou causest whom Thou wilt to stray and Thou leadest whom Thou wilt into the right path. Thou art our protector: so forgive us and give us Thy mercy; for Thou art the best of those who forgive. 1121 1122 1123 1124
Seventy of the elders were taken up to the Mount, but left at some distance from the place where Allah spoke to Moses. They were to be silent witnesses, but their faith was not yet complete, and they dared to say to Moses: "We shall never believe in thee until we see Allah in public" (ii.55). They were dazed with thunder and lightning, and might have been destroyed but for Allah's mercy on the intercession of Moses.
Rajfat: violent quaking, earthquake, I take it to refer to the same event as is described by the word Sa'iqat in ii. 55, the thunder and lightning that shook the mountainside.
Moses was guiltless, but he identifies himself with his whole people, and intercedes with Allah on their behalf. He recognises that it was a trial, in which some of his people failed to stand the test. Such failure was worthy of punishment. But he pleads for mercy for such as erred from weakness and not from contumacy, and were truly repentant, although all who erred were in their several degrees worthy of punishment.
Cf. ii. 26.