166فَلَمّا عَتَوا عَن ما نُهوا عَنهُ قُلنا لَهُم كونوا قِرَدَةً خاسِئينَMuhammad Asadand then, when they disdainfully persisted in doing what they had been forbidden to do, We said unto them: "Be as apes despicable!"1According to Zamakhshari and Razi, the expression "We said unto them" is here synonymous with "We decreed with' regard to them" - God's "saying" being in this case a metonym for a manifestation of His will. As for the substance of God's decree, "Be as apes despicable", the famous tabi'i Mujahid explain it thus: "[Only] their hearts were transformed, that is, they were not [really] transformed into apes: this is but a metaphor (mathal) coined by God with regard to them, similar to the metaphor of 'the ass carrying books' [62:5]" (Tabari, in his commentary on 2:65; also Manar I, 343; VI, 448; and IX, 379). A similar explanation is given by Raghib. It should be borne in mind that the expression "like an ape" is often used in classical Arabic to describe a person who is unable to restrain his gross appetites or passions.