Allah admonished the Jews for avoiding Jihad and not entering the holy land as they had been ordered to do when they came from Egypt with Musa. They were also commanded to fight the disbelieving `Amaliq (Canaanites) dwelling in the holy land at that time. But they did not want to fight, because they were weak and exhausted. Allah punished them by causing them to become lost, and to continue wandering, as Allah has stated in Surat Al-Ma'idah (5). The correct opinion about the meaning of, `the holy land' mentioned here is that it was Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), as As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah and Abu Muslim Al-Asfahani, as well as others have stated. Musa said,
﴿يَاقَوْمِ ادْخُلُوا الاٌّرْضَ المُقَدَّسَةَ الَّتِى كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلاَ تَرْتَدُّوا﴾
(O people! Enter the holy land which Allah has assigned to you and turn not back (in flight).) (5:21)
However, some scholars said that the holy land is Jericho, (Ariha') and this opinion was mentioned from Ibn `Abbas and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd.
After the years of wandering ended forty years later, in the company of Yuwsha` (Joshua) bin Nun, Allah allowed the Children of Israel to conquer the holy land on the eve of a Friday. On that day, the sun was kept from setting for a little more time, until victory was achieved. When the Children of Israel conquered the holy land, they were commanded to enter its gate while,
(prostrating) in appreciation to Allah for making them victorious, triumphant, returning them to their land and saving them from being lost and wandering. Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said that,
﴿وَادْخُلُواْ الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا﴾
(and enter the gate Sujjadan) means, "While bowing''. Ibn Jarir reported Ibn `Abbas saying,
﴿وَادْخُلُواْ الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا﴾
(and enter the gate in prostration) means, "Through a small door while bowing.'' Al-Hakim narrated it, and Ibn Abi Hatim added, "And they went through the door backwards!'' Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that they were ordered to prostrate on their faces when they entered the city, but Ar-Razi discounted this explanation. It was also said that the Sujud mentioned here means, `submissiveness', for actually entering while prostrating is not possible.
Khasif said that `Ikrimah said that Ibn `Abbas said, "The door mentioned here was facing the Qiblah.'' Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, As-Suddi, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak said that the door is the door of Hittah in Iylya', which is Jerusalem. Ar-Razi also reported that some of them said that it was a door in the direction of the Qiblah''. Khasif said that `Ikrimah said that Ibn `Abbas said that the Children of Israel entered the door sideways. As-Suddi said that Abu Sa`id Al-Azdy said that Abu Al-Kanud said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said that they were commanded to, u
﴿وَادْخُلُواْ الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا﴾
(enter the gate in prostration (or bowing with humility)) but instead, they entered while their heads were raised in defiance.
Allah said next,
(and say: `Hittah'). Ibn `Abbas commented, "Seek Allah's forgiveness.'' Al-Hasan and Qatadah said that it means, "Say, `Relieve us from our errors.''
﴿نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَـيَـكُمْ وَسَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ﴾
(and We shall forgive you your sins and shall increase (reward) for the good-doers) Here is the reward for fulfilling Allah's commandment. This Ayah means, "If you implement what We commanded you, We will forgive your sins and multiply your good deeds.'' In summary, upon achieving victory, the Children of Israel were commanded to submit to Allah in tongue and deed and, to admit to their sins and seek forgiveness for them, to be grateful to Allah for the blessings He gave them, hastening to do the deeds that Allah loves, as He said,
﴿إِذَا جَآءَ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ وَالْفَتْحُ - وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِى دِينِ اللَّهِ أَفْوَجاً - فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوِبَا ﴾
(When there comes the help of Allah (to you, O Muhammad against your enemies) and the conquest (of Makkah). And you see that the people enter Allah's religion (Islam) in crowds. So glorify the praises of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance.) (110).
﴿فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ قَوْلاً غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ﴾
(But those who did wrong changed the word from that which had been told to them for another).
Al-Bukhari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Prophet said,
«قِيلَ لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ ادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَقُولُوا: حِطَّةٌ، فَدَخَلُوا يَزْحَفُون عَلى أَسْتَاهِهِم فَبَدَّلُوا وَقَالُوا، حَبَّةٌ فِي شَعْرَة»
(The Children of Israel were commanded to enter the door while bowing and to say `Hittah'. Yet, they entered the door on their behinds, distorting the words. They said; `Habbah (seed), in Sha`rah (a hair).')
An-Nasa'i recorded this part of it from Abu Hurayrah only, but he has a chain from the Prophet , explaining Allah's statement,
(`Hittah'), saying, "So they deviated and said `Habbah.'' Similar was recorded by `Abdur-Razzaq, and his route was also collected by Al-Bukhari. Muslim and At-Tirmidhi narrated similar versions of this Hadith, At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih.''
The summary of what the scholars have said about this subject is that the Children of Israel distorted Allah's command to them to submit to Him in tongue and deed. They were commanded to enter the city while bowing down, but they entered while sliding on their rear ends and raising their heads! They were commanded to say, `Hittah' meaning, "Relieve us from our errors and sins.'' However, they mocked this command and said, "Hintah (grain seed) in Sha`irah (barley).'' This demonstrates the worst type of rebellion and disobedience, and it is why Allah released His anger and punishment upon them, all because of their sinning and defying His commands. Allah said,
﴿فَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ رِجْزًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَفْسُقُونَ﴾
(So We sent upon the wrongdoers Rijz (a punishment) from the heaven because of their rebellion.)
Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Every word in Allah's Book that says Rijz means, `a punishment.''' Mujahid, Abu Malik, As-Suddi, Al-Hasan and Qatadah were reported to have said that Rijz means `Torment.' Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that Sa`d bin Malik, Usamah bin Zayd and Khuzaymah bin Thabit said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«الطَّاعُونُ رِجْزٌ.عَذَابٌ عُذِّبَ بِهِ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُم»
(The plague is a Rijz, a punishment with which Allah punished those before you.)
This is also how An-Nasa'i recorded this Hadith. In addition, the basis of this Hadith was collected in the Two Sahihs,
«إِذَا سَمِعْتُمُ الطَّاعُونَ بأَرْضٍ فَلَا تَدْخُلُوهَا»
(If you hear of the plague in a land, then do not enter it.)
Ibn Jarir recorded Usamah bin Zayd saying that the Messenger of Allah said,
«إنَّ هَذَا الْوَجَعَ وَالسَّقَمَ رِجْزٌ عُذِّبَ بِهِ بَعْضُ الْأُمَمِ قَبْلَكُم»
(This calamity and sickness (i.e. the plague) is a Rijz, a punishment with which some nations who were before you were punished.)
The basis of this Hadith was also collected in the Two Sahihs.
﴿وَإِذِ اسْتَسْقَى مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ فَقُلْنَا اضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ فَانفَجَرَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَّشْرَبَهُمْ كُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ مِن رِّزْقِ اللَّهِ وَلاَ تَعْثَوْاْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ ﴾
(60. And (remember) when Musa asked for water for his people, We said: "Strike the stone with your stick.'' Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Each (group of) people knew its own place for water. "Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided and do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth.'')