60. So Fir`awn withdrew, devised his plot and then came back. 61. Musa said to them: "Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah, lest He should destroy you completely by a torment. And surely, he who invents a lie (against Allah) will fail miserably.'' 62. Then they debated one with another what they must do, and they kept their talk secret. 63. They said: "Verily, these are two magicians. Their object is to drive you out from your land with magic, and to take you away from your exemplary way.'' 64. "So devise your plot, and then assemble in line. And whoever overcomes this day will be indeed successful.''
Allah, the Exalted informs that when Fir`awn and Musa agreed to an appointed meeting at a specified place and time, Fir`awn began to gather some magicians from the cities of his kingdom. Every person who had any affiliation with magic at that time was summoned, and magic was very widespread and in demand at that time. This is as Allah says,
(And Fir`awn said: "Bring me every well-versed sorcerer.'') ﴿10:79﴾ Then, the day came. It was the day when all of the people gathered, which was well-known, being the day of the festival. Fir`awn was there sitting upon his throne surrounded by the elite officials of his kingdom. The subjects were all standing on his right and his left. Then, Musa came forward leaning upon his stick accompanied by his brother Harun. The magicians were standing in front of Fir`awn in rows and he was prodding them, inciting them and encouraging them to do their best on this day. They wanted to please him and he was promising them and inspiring them. They said,
(Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners He (Fir`awn) said: "Yes, and you shall then verily be of those brought near (to myself).'') ﴿26:41-42﴾
(Musa said to them: "Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah...'') This means, "Do not make an illusion before the people of something that is not real, making it appear as if it were a creature, when it is not really a creature. If you do this, then you would be lying on Allah.''
(lest He (Allah) should destroy you completely by a torment.) This means, `He will destroy you with a destructive punishment that will not spare anything, or anyone.'
("...And surely, he who invents a lie will fail miserably.'' Then they debated one with another what they must do,) It has been said that this means that they argued among themselves. So one of them said, "This is not the speech of a magician, but it is the speech of a Prophet.'' Another said, "No, he is only a magician.'' There are other opinions that have been mentioned about what they discussed. And Allah knows best. Allah's statement,
(and they kept their talk secret.) means, they held secret counsel among themselves about this matter.
(They said: "Verily, these are two ﴿Hadhan﴾ magicians...'') This is a way of speaking with some of the Arabs and this Ayah has been recited according to the grammar of their dialect. There are also others who recite it as, (إِنَّ هَذَيْنِ لَسَاحِرَانِ) Which carries the same meaning, "Verily, these are two ﴿Hadhayn﴾ magicians.'' This is the popular style of language in Arabic grammar. The grammarians have extensive discussions in reply to the first recitation and its grammatical explanation, but this is not the place for such a discussion. The main point is that the magicians said among themselves, "You all know that this man and his brother (Musa and Harun) are two knowledgeable magicians who are quite aware of the skill of magic. They want to defeat you and your people today and conquer the people, causing the masses to follow them. They want to fight against Fir`awn and his armies, and they are seeking victory over him. And their ultimate goal is to expel you from your land.'' Concerning Allah's statement,
(and to take you away from your exemplary way.) This means, `they want to expose this way (of yours) openly, which is magic.' For verily, they were considered great because of their magic. They had wealth and sustenance because of this magic. They were actually saying, "If these two (Musa and Harun) are victorious, they will destroy you and expel you from your land. In doing so, they will be the first individuals to do so, and they will be given great power of leadership without you.'' Ibn `Abbas mentioned concerning Allah's statement,
(and to take you away from your exemplary way. ) "This means their kingdom, which they were in, and their livelihood.'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd said, "This superior way means that which they were upon.''
(So devise your plot, and assemble in line.) This means, "All of you come together in one row, and throw that which is in your hands at one time in order to dazzle the eyes (of the people) and defeat this man and his brother.''
(And whoever overcomes this day will be indeed successful.) meaning "Between you and us. As for us (the magicians), we have been promised to be given an abundance of power and sovereignty. And in reference to him (Musa), He will gain great leadership.''