And when We-SWT took the Covenant... and you were averse.
Speaking of Bani Israll, Allaah-SWT draws the attention of the reader to the scenario, when He-SWT took a pledge from them that: (1) They will worship no one except Him-SWT (2) They will treat their parents kindly, (3) They will be kind towards the orphans and the needy, (4) They will speak nicely to mankind and (5) They will offer Salat and pay Zakat. Barring a few, all the rest turned their backs on the pledge. The Jews claimed to worship Allaah-SWT Alone, but practically adhered to the teachings of their priests and rabbis, even when these contravened Divine obedience. This conduct has been described in another Section of the Quran in these words: "They have forsaken Allaah-SWT and have taken their way-ward scholars as Rabb-SWT ."
These two institutions i.e. the scholars and the saints are the sources of guidance towards Allah-SWT, and the people need their guidance in their practical lives. But when these institutions get perverted, they pervert the nations. The scholars and saints of the Jews were insensate to the extent that they mutated His-SWT Book and killed His-SWT Messengers-AS sent for reformation. They altered the sections of the Torah pertaining to the Prophet-SW of Islam, and did not even refrain from waging war against him-SW. And their followers blindly obeyed them in these offences. This is why Allaah-SWT blames the Bani Israil of worshipping their peerage. Had these scholars and saints invited the people to Allah-SWT's Path they should have been obeyed, but when they themselves went astray, at least the followers should have abandoned them. Similarly a person, who violates the laws of Allaah-SWT in order to fulfil the vain desires of his soul, indeed worships other gods, and for all practical purposes, takes his desires as his Rabb-SWT .
The Vicious Scholars and the Rabbis
In fact the task of a scholar is not to invent a religion, but to explain it in order to convey the Message of Allaah-SWT and His Prophet-AS to mankind. If he begins to fabricate things, he goes astray. Saints also emerge from scholars. Every scholar is not necessarily a saint, but every saint is a scholar, for it is forbidden to pledge allegiance to an ignorant. A scholar delivers the Prophetic knowledge to people, whereas a saint, besides possessing knowledge, is also a bearer of the Prophetic Barakah. This will only be possible if he himself obeys Allaah-SWT and His-SWT‘s Prophets-AS. If his own life is against the Sunnah, he will be devoid of any Barakah and all those who follow him will be led astray.
Then the second most important thing is to extend kind treatment to parents. They are the cause of one's coming to this world. They enjoy rights over their offspring and their wealth. Even if they are non-believers, they must be respected, though in matters of faith, they are not to be obeyed. They should neither be insulted nor looked down upon; rather, one must pray for their reformation. This is why the wise people advise that before making a friend see whether he is obedient to Allah-SWT; or is he at least obedient to his parents who have been so good to him? If not, do not expect any sincerity from him.
After the parents, are the rights of the relatives, they should be treated kindly and a close relationship must be maintained, avoiding desertion. Then the deserving people of the society, the orphans and the needy, should not be neglected. So much so that one must be a well-wisher for the entire mankind, exchanging kind words with one another. Slander and abusive language must be avoided. Indeed one must try to convey the truth with love and affection. The beauty of speech is that whatever is spoken must be the truth, and delivered in an appropriate manner. To engage in flattery or tell lies, just to please someone, cannot be termed as beauty of speech.
Fair mutual dealings are the foundations of excellence in worships. If the dealings are not fair, the worship will be devoid of pleasures. If the Situation deteriorates further, one may forsake the worships altogether, as is the case with Muslims today.
Bani Israil could not maintain fair dealings. Consequently, their worships were swept away and finally they lost their faith. There were only a few people who were blessed with steadfastness, survived to see the age of Prophet Muhammad-SW and embraced Islam. By and large they were a treacherous people. This, they are being reminded by Allaah-SWT .
Then We-SWT took your Covenant: ... you were witness.
And when Allaah-SWT took oath from you, that you will neither shed blood nor will you resort to expel one another from the native land.
This indeed is the spirit of Islamic brotherhood that all Muslims are like components of a single body. If a Muslim slays another Muslim, it is like chopping off his own body. This is a pledge, which you had not only formally accepted but also continue to acknowledge it to date.
Yet you are the ones who ... And Allah-SWT is not unmindful of what you do.
But did you (the Children of Israil) honour your word? Not at all! In fact it is you who cut the throats of one another and pester your countrymen so much that they are forced to flee their motherland. And when you find someone in captivity, you spend money to free him, on the pretext that he is a fellow believer, whereas you yourself were responsible for his sorry state. To begin with, you were forbidden to torture or expel anyone from his native land; but you never bothered to obey. Do you believe in some parts of the Divine Book and deny some, by ignoring them completely? If you persist in denial, you will be disgraced in this world and will never be able to live honourably. Your motive to usurp the wealth of those you slew and to become supreme will never be achieved. This law also applies to all nations who commit this crime. They are deprived of an honourable existence. A civil war can never lead a nation to heights in this world.
They are the people ...nor will they be helped.
In the Akhirah if this conduct is coupled with the denial of even a single Divine Command, it is disbelief (Kufr), whereas not to practise is Fisq. But when someone begins to criticise the Divine Commandments as useless or impracticable, it is pure denial, which will invoke a tormenting doom. It must always be remembered that Allaah-SWT is fully aware of all your actions: He-SWT is vigilant over everything, significant or trivial, and is also well aware of the beliefs you have in your hearts.