It is also possible to refer this sentence back to the set of previous verses where Muslims have been commanded to treat their worst enemies with courtesy and justice. If so, the sentence would indicate that the teaching of courtesy and tolerance in the case of such avowed enemies may amount to making a political error which may put them back on their feet. Therefore, in this sentence, Muslims were warned that this tolerance and courtesy will bring absolutely no harm to them only if they continue being the kind of people who fear Allah and trust in Him. In fact, instead of giving the enemies the courage and opportunity to renew their hostility against them, this behaviour of theirs will become the cause of bringing them closer to Islam into the Muslim area of influence. Besides, Taqwa or the fear of Allah is the only factor which can compel a person to abide by a pledge both physically and spiritually. Wherever this quality of Taqwa remains missing, pledges get readily broken as commonly witnessed these days. So, the earlier verse (5:8) which mentions a pledge, also directed to وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ, (Fear Allah) towards the end. The same assertion was repeated here. Finally, this whole verse gives a clear hint that a Muslim victory with Divine support does not simply depend upon outward logistics and hardware, instead of that, the secret of their real power lies in Taqwa (the fear of Allah) and Tawakkul (trust in Him).
After the present verse has mentioned the pledge taken from Muslims and rewards it would bring when fulfilled, the second verse brings into focus another side of the issue. It clarifies that this taking of pledges is not something special to Muslims. Similar pledges were also taken earlier, from other communities as well. But, they failed to fulfill them. Therefore, various punishments were sent upon them. It is said in the verse that Almighty Allah had taken a pledge from the Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel). The pledge was taken in a particular form. The people from Bani Isra'il were divided over twelve tribes. One chief from each such tribe was chosen to represent them. Every chief from each of the twelve tribes declared on his behalf and on behalf of his whole tribe that they would adhere to this Divine Covenant. Thus, these twelve chiefs took that responsibility on behalf of the entire people of Bani Isra'il which entailed that they would themselves adhere to this pledge as well as make their tribe do so.
Worth noting at this point is the cardinal principle of Islam in matters of honour, merit, office and recognition which, in the words of the Persian poet, Jami, is:
You have become a servant in love, forget about your lineage, O Jami! For, on this highway, so and so the son of so and so means nothing.
The Holy Prophet (SM) had declared this in full clarity when delivering his historic Address on the occasion of his Last Hajj by saying that Islam does not recognize any dividing line between Arabs and non-Arabs, black or white, high caste or low caste. Whoever enters Islam becomes a brother to all Muslims. The distinctions of status, lineage, colour, country and language were the idols and icons of the Days of Ignorance Islam has broken them all. But, it does not mean that one should not consider family background when harnessed to establish order and effeciency in administrative matters.
It is but natural that people of a tribe or family are more likely to trust a known member of their group as compared to others. Such a person is expected to understand and accomodate the feelings of his group much better because he knows their psychological reflexes in detail. When a pledge was taken from the twelve tribes of Bani Isra'il, it was based on this very strategy whereby one chief from each of the tribes was made responsible for its compliance.
The same consideration of administrative expediency and a peaceful resolution of possible conflict was made when the Bani Isra'il were highly agitated about a shortage of water. Sayyidna Musa عليه السلام prayed to Allah and as commanded by Him he struck his staff against a rock. Then, Almighty Allah made twelve streams flow from this rock for each of the twelve tribes. Allah Almighty has mentioned this great favour in the Holy Qur'an (Surah al-A'raf,7:160) in the following words: وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا (and We divided them into twelve tribes, as separand: فَانبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا (So, twelve springs gushed forth from it [one for each tribe]). As for this figure of twelve, it is rather unusual and lends to popular interpretations.
When the Ansar of Madinah came to invite the Holy Prophet (SM) to their city, he took a pledge from them in the form of Bay'at. In this pledge also, the twelve chiefs of the tribes of Ansar, acting on behalf of their tribes, gave their hands in the blessed hands of the Holy Prophet (SM) giving a solemn pledge of adherence popularly known as Bay'at (or Bay'ah in its pausal form).
Three of these chiefs were from the tribe of 'Aws and nine from the tribe of Khazraj (Ibn Kathir).
According to another narration from Sayyidna Jabir ibn Samurah appearing in al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet (SM) is reported to have said that people and their needs shall stay covered until such time that twelve Khulafa (ruling authorities) will be leading them. After having reported this narration, Ibn Kathir has commented that no word from this hadith proves that these twelve Imams or Khulafa would rule one after the other, continuously. On the contrary, they could also appear spaced out from each other with breaks in between. Thus, there were four Khulafa Sayyidna Abu Bakr, Sayyidna 'Umar al-Faruq, Sayyidna 'Uthman al-Ghani and Sayyidna 'Ali al Murtada رضي الله عنهم succeeding in that order. After the passage of some time in between, Sayyidna 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz was accepted by the consensus of the Ummah as the fifth righteous Khalifah' of Islam.