39. Majid offers us results of his vast readings: “Moses and Aaron ‘had to present themselves before a king, who, by the long-established usage of the country, was looked upon as ‘a good god,’ and ‘the great god,’ and who inherited from his father the idea that he was actually on a par with the greatest of the recognized divinities.’ (Rawlinson, Moses: His Life and Times, p. 88). ‘Egypt is remarkable for the extraordinary realistic way in which it depicted the dogma that the Pharaoh was the visible-god, begotten by the god, and the divine begetter of his wife’s children.’ (UHW.I., p.646). ‘As the great Pharaonic State arose, the impressive figure of the sovereign profoundly influenced religion; the forms of the State passed over into human conceptions of the gods, and the Sun-gods, the greatest of them all, was received as a Pharaoh ruling other divinities.’ (EBr. XII, p. 77). ‘The Pharaoh was a god upon earth. Like the Incas of Pras, he belonged to the solar race, and the blood which flowed in his vein was the ichor of the gods… The supreme sovereign, the Pharaoh… was veritable god on earth. To his subjects he was the source, not only of material benefits but of spiritual blessings as well. He was ‘the good god,’ the beneficent dispenser of all good things. The power of life and death was in his hands, and rebellion against him was rebellion against the gods.’ (Sayce, pp. 42, 44).”
40. When challenged to use reason, unwittingly Fir`awn threw away his gauntlet. At heart, he knew that if he carried on, his shallow intellectual reasoning – at bottom mere non-sense – would not stand its ground. Furthermore, his threat was not only directed at Musa, but at his courtiers too, whose faces must have been reflecting the change of minds. (Au.)
Defeated on the intellectual platform, Fir`awn, like tyrants of all times, threatened to use force (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
Thus, at the intellectual level Musa won out. That is only possible if a caller stays cool and intellectually alert. It might also be noticed that the whole conversation is conducted by Musa alone, without a word from Harun, in fulfillment of Allah’s promise when He said, “By no means” (verse 15) in reply to Musa’s apprehensions that his anger might get the better of him and he would not be able to express himself powerfully if Fir`awn rejected the call. (Au.)