188 The CORÂN

And verily amongst them is a party that twist their tongues in (reading) the book, that ye may think it is out of the book, though it is not out of the book; and they say,—"it is from God," and it is not from God; and they speak a falsehood concerning God, knowingly.

The Jews of Medîna are here reprehended for attempting an artifice against Mahomet or his followers; they are alleged, namely, to have pretended that certain passages which they read to Mahomet or his followers were from the Scriptures, while in reality they were not from the Scriptures. This they did by "twisting their tongues," that is, by a fraudulent, or equivocal manner of speech. The expression is the same as that used in Sura IV. v. 43, (Art. XCVI.),— ليا بألسنتهم quod vide.

Whatever such conduct may have been,—whether amounting to actual fraud and deception in reading out the traditions, the commentaries, or any other writings of their Rabbins, in such a way as to make it be supposed they were quoting the Scriptures, it has evidently no allusion whatever to tampering with the Scriptures themselves. On the contrary, even if the imputation be of the nature and gravity of an actual deception, it implies that the Jews did not venture upon any such sacrilege as the alteration of their sacred books.. They simply pretended to be reading from them, while in reality they were reading from some other source, but by their deceitful mode of speaking ("twisting their tongues,") wished to mislead the Moslems into the belief that it was God's word.

This quite corresponds with the character the Jews have in every age possessed for extreme scrupulousness as to the letter and text of their Scriptures, however unscrupulous they might be in any other respect.

CXII.—SURA III., v. 78[79].

سورة آل عمران

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُؤْتِيَهُ اللّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُواْ عِبَادًا لِّي مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلَـكِن كُونُواْ رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ

It becometh not a man that God should give him a book, and wisdom, and prophecy, and that he should then say to mankind, Be worshippers of me besides God; but rather, Be ye perfect, inasmuch as ye know the book, and inasmuch as ye study it.

Whatever was the occasion of the text, whether it applied to Jews or to Christians, it signifies that, reading their Scriptures, they might, by the "study" thereof, become "perfect";—an ample testimony to the genuineness and virtue of the inspired books then in the hands of the Jews and Christians.

Thus Baidhâwi;— "And rabbânî means perfect in knowledge and practice; inasmuch as ye know the Book, and inasmuch as ye study it,— that is, because of your being acquainted with the Book, and because of your studying it; for the advantage of learning and knowledge lieth in the faculty of discriminating the truth, and that which is best, in order to belief and practice;"

والرباني هو الكامل في العلم والعمل بما كنتم تعلمون الكتاب وبما كنتم تدرسون بسبب كونكم معلمين الكتاب وبسبب كونكم دارسين له فإن فائدة التعليم والعلم معرفة الحق والخير للاعتقاد والعمل