70. They said, “Call upon your Lord to show us which one; the heifers look alike to us; and God willing, we will be guided.”
71. He said, “He says she is a heifer, neither yoked to plow the earth, nor to irrigate the field; sound without blemish.” They said, “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slew her; though they almost did not.
72. And recall when you killed a person, and disputed in the matter; but God was to expose what you were hiding.
73. We said, “Strike him with part of it.” Thus God brings the dead to life; and He shows you His signs, that you may understand.
74. Then after that your hearts hardened. They were as rocks, or even harder. For there are some rocks from which rivers gush out, and others that splinter and water comes out from them, and others that sink in awe of God. God is not unaware of what you do.
75. Do you hope that they will believe in you, when some of them used to hear the Word of God, and then deliberately distort it, even after understanding it?
76. And when they come across those who believe, they say, “We believe,” but when they come together privately, they say, “Will you inform them of what God has disclosed to you, so that they might dispute with you concerning it before your Lord?” Do you not understand?
77. Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they reveal?
78. And among them are uneducated who know the Scripture only through hearsay, and they only speculate.
79. So woe to those who write the Scripture with their own hands, and then say, “This is from God,” that they may exchange it for a little price. Woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn.
80. And they say, “The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days.” Say, “Have you received a promise from God-God never breaks His promise-or are you saying about God what you do not know?”
Muhammad is being told what happened to his fellow Jewish neighbors of the Middle East, in terms of their disbelief about God. For some reason, a faction of them were skeptical of God and kept questioning about the cow. Eventually they killed the cow, but they almost did not do it due to their disbelief. Next a murder took place and there was an argument about it without a proper trial, and so God brought this man back to life to show them what they have done.
line 77 is so meaningful, that even if people speak nice words or act as one thing on the surface, God knows what is underneath. So never be good for rewards, the intention has to come from a honest place otherwise God will see that.
Many atheists like to argue that religious people do things for rewards from God. This is not true, and in these verses is the ultimate argument to that idea. When you do things with a reward or exterior motivation in mind, then it cancels out the good you do and God sees this.
There is a idea, that many people in high places (not just Jewish leaders, but instead many pagan, christian, or other faiths seem to come together under the same hatred for the truth. Misery loves company. However, they are still lying to each other, as well as to Muhammad by saying sweet words, but really meaning something else.
So they play with the words of God altering it for their own enjoyment and approval and tell their ideas to others. This is the start of the manipulations in the holy books. Some things were written, some not at all, some things were taken out and changed to something else. It is hard to decipher the truth unless you have a good compass that points the way.
The Quran acts as a compass and helps show the truth.
The ones who created the mischief on earth with say that they will live long anyways, and not have to worry about the punishment they will get, if ever. Gabriel lets Muhammad know how wrong they are and they can not escape their fate. Human life is a millisecond compared to God’s infinite existence, and when you think you have lots of time to do good, and procrastinate good deeds, that’s when you start to see time slip by.