The word ‘Qul’ is an imperative which means ‘say!’ and is addressed to the Prophet r. The verses were sent from Jibril u to the Prophet r with full accuracy and truthfulness as they were revealed. So, “Say to them, Oh Muhammad:
﴾إِنْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ الدَّارُ الآخِرَةُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَالِصَةً مِنْ دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوْا الْمَوْتَ إِنْ كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ﴿
“If the home of the Hereafter with Allah is for you alone and not the [other] people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful.”
This is because, they had said:
﴾لَنْ تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلاَّ أَيَّاماً مَعْدُودَةً﴿
“the fire shall not touch us except for a few numbered days”
[Surah Al-Baqarah: 80],
and claimed to be the chosen people of God and the Holy Qur’an challenged them regarding that.
However, Ibn Abbas t interprets that this verse contains a Mubahalah. The Mubahalah happens when a group of people wish for death if they were lying. So, they will say: “If we are lying, may we be given death by Allah!” However, they will never say it. And if they did, they would die at that instance from choking, that is, from their saliva. But they did not say it, and will never say it.