Examination of Verse 166 of Surat al-A’raf
When we look at the verses that precede verse 166 of Surat al-A’raf, we see they are directly addressed to the Children of Israel. A community that has emerged from the Children of Israel, from among the Jews in other words, is not abiding by the Sabbath (Saturday). They are forgetting and disregarding the reminders given them in the name of the faith and are rebelling by insisting on doing something that they should not. Therefore, these people are in a state of direct denial of their own religion. This is a community that has emerged from Jewish society and that refuses to pay heed.
Looking at these verses, there is one community of honest and sincere Jews and another, among these Jews, that represents a community of deniers who refuse to pay heed. For example, in verse 164 there are Jews who persistently warn this community and call them to the truth. Their aim is to summon them to the true path “so that hopefully they will gain fear of God.” Verse 165 states that this honest community that forbid the evil were saved. Those who were cast down were the unbelievers who refused to listen to advice and who made problems for the sincere Jews.
Before these verses, God praises righteous Jews in these terms:
Among the people of Moses there is a group who guide by the truth and act justly in accordance with it. (Qur'an, 7:159)
God praises a community from the people of Moses, who act justly and guide to the truth because of this behavior. There is much wisdom in God’s sending this verse. It describes in a perfect manner the attitude that Muslims should adopt towards sincere Jews.