وَقَالَ يَا بَنِيَّ لَا تَدْخُلُوا مِن بَابٍ وَاحِدٍ وَادْخُلُوا مِنْ أَبْوَابٍ مُّتَفَرِّقَةٍ
He (Jacob) said (by way of advice at the time of their departure): “O my sons! Do not enter the city by one gate (in a single company), but enter by different gates.” (Yūsuf 12:67)
We can summarize the meaning and reason for Prophet Jacob’s advice to his sons on their way to Egypt, as follows:
1. Prophet Jacob’s sons, the brothers of Joseph, had come to Egypt before in order to buy wheat during the long-lasting drought which caused widespread famine all around. As some of the Qur’anic commentators also state, Jacob’s sons were well-built and good-looking and must have caught the attention of both the King and the people of Egypt. Therefore, when people saw them again during their second visit, they may have been the target of jealousy and evil eyes.
2. Their frequent visits to Egypt, entertained by Joseph, might jeopardize Joseph’s position as the chief vizier who acted on behalf of the king. Some suspicions might arise as to their visits and why Joseph treated them differently.
3. Prophet Jacob, upon him be peace, might have thought to divide his sons worrying that they might collaborate to do evil against Benjamin—Joseph’s brother and their half-brother, as they had once done with Joseph.
4. God Almighty willed that the Children of Israel should settle in Egypt so that Egypt might be revived spiritually. If they had attracted the suspicion of the people during their visits, this might not have been realized. They had to be careful not to cause any suspicion by acting together as if they were a powerful community.
Certainly, Jacob’s advice was a precaution. Since we live in the world, which is the abode of wisdom and where apparent causes have some part in effects, it is our responsibility to observe the law of causality. However, we also believe that we have no power in the face of whatever God wills. But we do not know what God wills and therefore decide and act considering the apparent circumstances. Therefore, we should both observe the law of causality, and knowing and believing for sure that the effect or result depends on God’s Power and it is God Who creates effects, we should put our trust in God. This is explicit in Jacob’s advice considering the verse in its entirety. While, on one hand, he advised his sons to enter the capital city of Egypt “through different gates” as a precaution in obedience to the Divine laws of life, he also expressed his trust in God on the other:
He said (by way of advice at the time of their departure): ‘O my sons! Do not enter the city by one gate (in a single company), but enter by different gates. Yet, I can be of no avail whatever to you against anything God wills. Judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. In Him have I put my trust, and whoever would entrust themselves should put their trust in Him’ (Yūsuf 12:67)
Our Lord! It is in You that We have put our trust, and it is to You that we turn in utmost sincerity and devotion; and to You is the homecoming. Our Lord! Do not make us prey for those who disbelieve (lest, in overcoming us, they think their unbelief to be true and increase therein). And forgive us, our Lord! You are the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.