Ask the children of Israel how many a clear message We have given them! And if one alters God's blessed message* after it has reached him - verily, God is severe in retribution!
And when Saul set out with his forces, he said: "Behold, God will now try you by a river: he who shall drink of it will not belong to me, whereas he who shall refrain from tasting it - he, indeed, will belong to me; but forgiven shall be he* who shall scoop up but a single handful." However, save for a few of them, they all drank [their fill] of it. And as soon as he and those who had kept faith with him had crossed the river, the others said: "No strength have we today [to stand up] against Goliath and his forces!" [Yet] those who knew with certainty that they were destined to meet God, replied: "How often has a small host overcome a great host by God's leave! For God is with those who are patient in adversity."
Or [art thou, O man, of the same mind] as he* who passed by a town deserted by its people, with its roofs caved in, [and] said, "How could God bring all this back to life after its death?"* Thereupon God caused him to be dead for a hundred years; where after He brought him back to life [and] said: "How long hast thou remained thus?" He answered: "I have remained thus a day, or part of a day." Said [God]: "Nay, but thou hast remained thus for a hundred years! But look at thy food and thy drink-untouched is it by the passing of years - and look at thine ass!* And [We did all this so that We might make thee a symbol unto men. And look at the bones [of animals and men] - how We put them together and then clothe them with flesh!"* And when [all this] became clear to him, he said: "I know [now] that God has the power to will anything!"
Do they not see how many a generation We have destroyed before their time - [people] whom We had given a [bountiful] place on earth, the like of which We never gave unto you, and upon whom We showered heavenly blessings abundant, and at whose feet We made running waters flow? And yet we destroyed them for their sins, and gave rise to other people in their stead.*
And how many a [rebellious] community have We destroyed, with Our punishment coming upon it by night, or while they were resting at noontide!*
And how many a generation have We [thus] destroyed after [the time of] Noah! For, none has the like of thy Sustainer's awareness and insight into His creatures' sins.
And so, [in the course of time,] We awakened them;* and they began to ask one another [as to what had happened to them].* One of them asked: "How long have you remained thus?" [The others] answered: "We have remained thus a day, or part of a day."* Said they [who were endowed with deeper insight]: "Your Sustainer knows best how long you have thus remained.* Let, then, one of you go with these silver coins to the town, and let him find out what food is purest there, and bring you thereof [some] provisions. But let him behave with great care and by no means make anyone aware of you:
And yet, how many a generation have We destroyed before their time-[people] who surpassed them in material power* and in outward show!
for, how many a generation* have We destroyed before their time - [and] canst thou perceive any one of them [now], or hear any whisper of them?
CAN, THEN, they [who reject the truth] learn no lesson by recalling how many a generation We have destroyed before their time?* - [people] in whose dwelling-places they [themselves now] walk about? In this, behold, there are messages indeed for those who are endowed with reason!
For, how many a community that persisted in evildoing have We dashed into fragments, and raised another people in its stead!*
[And] He will ask [the doomed]: What number of years have you spent on earth?"
Have they, then, never considered the earth - how much of every noble kind [of life] We have caused to grow thereon?
And how many a community that [once] exulted in its wanton wealth and ease of life have We destroyed, so that those dwelling-places of theirs all but a few - have never been dwelt-in after them: for it is indeed We alone who shall remain when all else will have passed away!*
[But] can, then, they [who deny the truth] learn no lesson by recalling how many a generation We have destroyed before their time?* [people] in whose dwelling-places they [themselves now] walk about? In this, behold, there are messages indeed: will they not, then, listen?
Are they not aware of how many a generation We have destroyed before their time, [and] that those [that have perished] will never return to them,*
How many a generation have We destroyed before their time [for this very sin]!* And [how] they called [unto Us] when it was too late to escape!*
And how many a prophet did We send to people of olden times!
[And so they perished: and] how many gardens did they leave behind, and water-runnels,
AND HOW MANY a generation have We destroyed before those [who now deny the truth]* people of greater might than theirs; but [when Our chastisement befell them,] they became wanderers on the face of the earth, seeking no more than a place of refuge*
For, however many angels there be in the heavens, their intercession can be of no least avail [to anyone] - except after God has given leave [to intercede] for whomever He wills and with whom He is well-pleased.*