How were the Children of Israel favoured by God?
Researched by: A. Muhammad

We read in the Quran that God favoured the Children of Israel (Bani Israel) above all other people:

O Children of Israel, remember My blessings that I bestowed upon you, and that I favoured you over all people.

The act of favouring the Children of Israel has been misinterpreted by some Jews making it appear that God has made them a race above all others!
The aim of this research is to establish the Quranic meaning of this favour given to the Children of Israel.

The ultimate aim of our life on earth is to believe in God and worship Him alone (51:56). It is through this belief that we would earn the right to be redeemed and admitted to Paradise in the Hereafter. As a result, all worldly matters such as our jobs, our families, our livelihood and so on, even though they may seem to be of the utmost importance to us during our lives, in reality, they are no more than tests set by God which we have to negotiate during our lives (8:28). They are not of any eternal importance or value.
If passing the test of this life is all that really matters, it can be said that those who are given an easier test would have indeed been granted a favour from God, as opposed to those who go through a more difficult test. Remember the test here is one of believing in God alone, and refraining from idol worship. What then constitutes what can be called an easier test?

Since we cannot see God, belief in God is therefore something we attain through faith and reason. On the other hand, anyone who has witnessed a special sign from God in the shape of a miracle would have been given more evidence of God than someone who has never seen any sign from God. The precise benefit gained through witnessing a miracle is mentioned in 74:31, which describes the purpose of the miracle of 19, but equally applies to witnessing all kinds of miracles:

So that those who believe would increase in faith. 74:31

When God informs that He favoured the Children of Israel over all people, these words are immediately followed and linked to the signs they received from God:

We have chosen them (Children of Israel) knowingly over all people, and We gave them signs containing a clear test.

When we consider the Children of Israel, they witnessed more miracles from God than any other people:

Ask the Children of Israel how many clear proofs We gave them. For the one who replaces God's blessings after it came to him, then indeed, God is severe in punishment. 2:211

The Quran speaks of 'nine miracles' given to prophet Moses (17:101), see: Nine miracles of Moses
We also know that these were not the only miracles witnessed by the Children of Israel. We read in the Quran about other miracles given to the Children of Israel after they departed from Egypt, and after Pharaoh and his army were drowned, such as the 12 springs which gushed with water, and the raining down of manna and quails (7:160).
Allowing people to witness miracles is undoubtedly a great favour from God, since it strengthens the faith of the beholder (74:31), as opposed to those who have never witnessed miracles from God.

2- In addition, the Children of Israel were the first people to receive a fully comprehensive and fully detailed Law from God. The Quran speaks of the "suhuf" of Abraham, but this word, which literally means 'pages/scrolls' indicates that Abraham was given a brief form of Scripture, as opposed to a comprehensive Book of law. In contrast, the Book given to Moses and the Children of Israel is described as being fully detailed and comprehensive:

Then We gave Moses the Book, complete and perfect for the one who does good, as well as a clarification of all things, and a guidance and mercy, so perhaps they would believe in the meeting with their Lord. 6:154

3- In addition, there were more prophets sent to the Children of Israel than to any other people, each delivering a Scripture containing guidance and healing for the people. The Torah is the collection of Scriptures given to all the prophets sent to the Children of Israel.

This multitude of Scriptures constitute great blessings which God bestowed on the Children of Israel, which were not bestowed on other people. The Quran lists 20 names of prophets throughout time. Out of the 20 prophets mentioned in the Quran no less than thirteen prophets were sent to the Children of Israel, starting from Jacob and ending with Jesus, they are:
Jacob – Joseph - Moses – Aaron – David – Solomon – Job – Jonah – Elias – Elisha – Zachariah – John - Jesus.
This leaves only 7 prophets sent to the rest of mankind and they are:
Noah - Idris - Abraham – Lot - Isaac – Ishmael - Muhammad

4- Finally, the Children of Israel were given preferential treatment not given to other people. To demonstrate this, we read the following:

And the people of Noah, when they denied the messengers, We drowned them and We set them up as an example for the people, and We have prepared for the transgressors a painful punishment. Also Aad, Thamoud, the Companions of Al-Russ, and many generations in between. To each We cited the examples, and each We completely annihilated. 25:37-39

The above words tell us that when the people mentioned rejected God and they denied their messengers, God completely destroyed them.
Now let us read the following words related to the Children of Israel:

And when We appointed Moses for forty nights, you set up the calf after he had gone and you were transgressors. Then We pardoned you after that so that perhaps you would give thanks. 2:51-52

By reading the above words in 2:51-52, we immediately note the preferential treatment given to the Children of Israel.
While as other people were totally annihilated when they rejected God, when the Children of Israel committed the same crime and worshipped a golden calf, God did not destroy them but He pardoned them. This was indeed another demonstration of how God favoured the Children of Israel over all people.

To conclude, the Children of Israel were given great blessings from God as follows:
1- They witnessed more miracles from God than any other people.
2- They were the first people to receive a fully comprehensive Scripture from God (Torah).
3- They received no less than 13 prophets from God.
4- They were treated much more leniently for the same crime than other peoples.

It is no wonder that after all these blessings bestowed by God on the Children of Israel that Moses tells them:

When Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember God's blessings upon you when He appointed prophets amongst you, made you kings, and granted you what He did not grant anyone among all the people." 5:20