I was reading the Tafseer (exegesis) of Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 240, and it said that it was abrogated by verse 234. Can I please get an explanation why that is so, and how could we reflect on verse 240?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
As you mentioned, verse 240 in Soorah Al-Baqarah [Quran Chapter 2] was abrogated by verse 234 of the same chapter. The religious ruling in the abrogated verse [2:240] was alleviated, but the reward for reciting the abrogated verse was retained. This is a manifestation of the mercy of Allah and His favor, and perhaps this was the only reason for the abrogation of the ruling.
"The wisdom behind the abrogation of the ruling and retaining the recitation is in the following two respects: firstly, just as the Quran is recited to learn the religious rulings and act upon them, it is also recited because it is the speech of Allah, so it yields rewards. This is why the text of the abrogated verses were kept for recitation. Secondly, abrogation is often intended to bring ease and relief, so the abrogated verse was kept as a reminder of this blessing and the removal of hardship that it involves." [Al-Itqaan]
That said, we come to know that before verse 234 was revealed, the ‘Iddah (waiting period) of the widow was one whole year. After the verse was revealed, the duration of the ‘Iddah was reduced to four months and ten days. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 84587.
These two verses are among the most important verses that address and organize the Muslims' personal affairs, and many scholars discussed them at length, and you can find that in books of Tafseer, books about the Quranic verses related to rulings, and books about Quran sciences in general.
Finally, you may notice that each of the two verses was concluded with a phrase that is suitable to the ruling therein. This is a recurrent style in the Quran; when underlining a command, prohibition, or ruling, the verse is concluded with a reference to one of the names or attributes of Allah that suits the context, urging the Muslim to be mindful of Allah and to comply with His commands or stir his fear of transgressing the limits of his Lord. The objective is to allow the Muslim's inner conscience to guard his adherence to these provisions without the need for an external authority (ruler). Thus, the religious rulings and divine commands are different from man-made laws and regulations, the adherence to which must be guarded by an external authority. In the absence of the external authority, people tend to refrain from complying with these laws and regulations and trample on them!
Allah knows best.
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