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The Gold Calf

written by Moses* in Exodus 32:1-29
written by Moses* in Exodus 32:1-29
written by Moses* in Exodus 32:1-29
written by Moses* in Exodus 32:1-29

Exodus 32:1-29

32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord's side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

The People Make an Idol To Worship

(Deuteronomy 9.6-29)

1 After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”

2 Aaron told them, “Bring me the gold earrings that your wives and sons and daughters are wearing.” 3 Everybody took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, 4 then he melted them and made an idol in the shape of a young bull.

All the people said to one another, “This is the god who brought us out of Egypt!”

5 When Aaron saw what was happening, he built an altar in front of the idol and said, “Tomorrow we will celebrate in honor of the Lord.” 6 The people got up early the next morning and killed some animals to be used for sacrifices and others to be eaten. Then everyone ate and drank so much that they began to carry on like wild people.

7 The Lord said to Moses:

Hurry back down! Those people you led out of Egypt are acting like fools. 8 They have already stopped obeying me and have made themselves an idol in the shape of a young bull. They have bowed down to it, offered sacrifices, and said that it is the god who brought them out of Egypt. 9 Moses, I have seen how stubborn these people are, 10 and I'm angry enough to destroy them, so don't try to stop me. But I will make your descendants into a great nation.

11 Moses tried to get the Lord God to change his mind:

Our Lord, you used your mighty power to bring these people out of Egypt. Now don't become angry and destroy them. 12 If you do, the Egyptians will say that you brought your people out here into the mountains just to get rid of them. Please don't be angry with your people. Don't destroy them!

13 Remember the solemn promise you made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You promised that someday they would have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and that you would give them land.

14 So even though the Lord had threatened to destroy the people, he changed his mind and let them live.

15-16 Moses went back down the mountain with the two flat stones on which God had written all of his laws with his own hand, using both sides of the stones.

17 When Joshua heard the noisy shouts of the people, he said to Moses, “A battle must be going on down in the camp.”

18 But Moses replied, “It doesn't sound like they are shouting because they have won or lost a battle. It sounds more like a wild party!”

19 As Moses got closer to the camp, he saw the idol, and he also saw the people dancing around. This made him so angry that he threw down the stones and broke them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 He melted the idol the people had made, and he ground it into powder. He scattered it in their water and made them drink it. 21 Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to harm you? Why did you make them sin in this terrible way?”

22 Aaron answered:

Don't be angry with me. You know as well as I do that they are determined to do evil. 23 They even told me, “That man Moses led us out of Egypt, but now we don't know what has happened to him. Make us a god to lead us.” 24 Then I asked them to bring me their gold earrings. They took them off and gave them to me. I threw the gold into a fire, and out came this bull.

25 Moses knew that the people were out of control and that it was Aaron's fault. And now they had made fools of themselves in front of their enemies. 26 So Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Everyone who is on the Lord's side come over here!”

Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, 27 and he said to them, “The Lord God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.”

28 The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about 3,000 men. 29 Moses said to them, “You obeyed the Lord and did what was right, and so you will serve as his priests for the people of Israel. It was hard for you to kill your own sons and brothers, but the Lord has blessed you and made you his priests today.”

The Gold Bull-Calf

(Deuteronomy 9.6-29)

1 When the people saw that Moses had not come down from the mountain but was staying there a long time, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “We do not know what has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.”

2 Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold earrings which your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the earrings, melted them, poured the gold into a mold, and made a gold bull-calf.

The people said, “Israel, this is our god, who led us out of Egypt!”

5 Then Aaron built an altar in front of the gold bull-calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to honor the Lord.” 6 Early the next morning they brought some animals to burn as sacrifices and others to eat as fellowship offerings. The people sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex.

7 The Lord said to Moses, “Hurry and go back down, because your people, whom you led out of Egypt, have sinned and rejected me. 8 They have already left the way that I commanded them to follow; they have made a bull-calf out of melted gold and have worshiped it and offered sacrifices to it. They are saying that this is their god, who led them out of Egypt. 9 I know how stubborn these people are. 10 Now, don't try to stop me. I am angry with them, and I am going to destroy them. Then I will make you and your descendants into a great nation.”

11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God and said, “Lord, why should you be so angry with your people, whom you rescued from Egypt with great might and power? 12 Why should the Egyptians be able to say that you led your people out of Egypt, planning to kill them in the mountains and destroy them completely? Stop being angry; change your mind and do not bring this disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember the solemn promise you made to them to give them as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and to give their descendants all that land you promised would be their possession forever.” 14 So the Lord changed his mind and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses went back down the mountain, carrying the two stone tablets with the commandments written on both sides. 16 God himself had made the tablets and had engraved the commandments on them.

17 Joshua heard the people shouting and said to Moses, “I hear the sound of battle in the camp.”

18 Moses said, “That doesn't sound like a shout of victory or a cry of defeat; it's the sound of singing.”

19 When Moses came close enough to the camp to see the bull-calf and to see the people dancing, he became furious. There at the foot of the mountain, he threw down the tablets he was carrying and broke them. 20 He took the bull-calf which they had made, melted it, ground it into fine powder, and mixed it with water. Then he made the people of Israel drink it. 21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you have made them commit such a terrible sin?”

22 Aaron answered, “Don't be angry with me; you know how determined these people are to do evil. 23 They said to me, ‘We don't know what has happened to this man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.’ 24 I asked them to bring me their gold ornaments, and those who had any took them off and gave them to me. I threw the ornaments into the fire and out came this bull-calf!”

25 Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get out of control and make fools of themselves in front of their enemies. 26 So he stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Everyone who is on the Lord's side come over here!” So all the Levites gathered around him, 27 and he said to them, “The Lord God of Israel commands every one of you to put on your sword and go through the camp from this gate to the other and kill your brothers, your friends, and your neighbors.” 28 The Levites obeyed, and killed about three thousand men that day. 29 Moses said to the Levites, “Today you have consecrated yourselves as priests in the service of the Lord by killing your sons and brothers, so the Lord has given you his blessing.”

The Sin of the Golden Calf

32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!”

2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the gold earrings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.

7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go quickly, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way that I commanded them – they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”

9 Then the Lord said to Moses: “I have seen this people. Look what a stiff-necked people they are! 10 So now, leave me alone so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘For evil he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent of this evil against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people.

15 Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. The tablets were written on both sides – they were written on the front and on the back. 16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “It is the sound of war in the camp!” 18 Moses said, “It is not the sound of those who shout for victory, nor is it the sound of those who cry because they are overcome, but the sound of singing I hear.”

19 When he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became extremely angry. He threw the tablets from his hands and broke them to pieces at the bottom of the mountain. 20 He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, poured it out on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought on them so great a sin?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let your anger burn hot, my lord; you know these people, that they tend to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild, for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies. 26 So Moses stood at the entrance of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” All the Levites gathered around him, 27 and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’”

28 The Levites did what Moses ordered, and that day about three thousand men of the people died. 29 Moses said, “You have been consecrated today for the Lord, for each of you was against his son or against his brother, so he has given a blessing to you today.”

The Creation
Adam and Eve
Cain and Abel
The Great Flood
The Tower of Babel
God Calls Abraham
Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham's Obedience
Isaac Marries Rebekah
Esau's Birthright
Isaac Blesses Jacob
Jacob and Laban
Jacob Wrestles
Revenge against Shechem
Joseph in Prison
Joseph as a Ruler
Family Reunion
Moses' Birth
The Burning Bush
The Ten Plagues
The Exodus
The Red Sea
The Gold Calf
Exploring the Land
Rebellion in the Ranks
Balak and Balaam
Rahab and the Spies
Jericho Falls
Gibeon's Con Artists
Deborah and Barak
Gideon as Judge
Abimelech's Ambition
Samson as Judge
Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
Samuel is Born
Samuel the Prophet
Saul Becomes King
Jonathan's Bravery
Saul's Disobedience
David Kills Goliath
David and Jonathan
Nabal and Abigail
Saul's Death
David's Success
David and Bathsheba
Amnon and Tamar
Absalom
Solomon's Wisdom
Jeroboam and Rehoboam
Elijah's Challenge
God Speaks to Elijah
Micaiah the Prophet
Chariot of Fire
Elisha Heals Naaman
Famine and Unbelief
Joash and Jehoiada
Hezekiah Trusts God
Josiah's Reign
Fall of Jerusalem
David's Power
David's Census
Jehoshaphat and Ahab
Ezra Rebuilds the Altar
Nehemiah Builds the Wall
Enemy Opposition
Nehemiah's Justice
Esther Saves the Jews
Job is Tested
Ezekiel's Vision
The Fiery Furnace
The Lions' Den
Jonah
Jesus is Born
Wise Men and King Herod
Jesus is Tempted
Jesus Feeds 5,000
The Bread of Life
Jesus Walks on Water
The Good Samaritan
The Lost Son
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus and Zacchaeus
The Triumphal Entry
The Last Supper
Jesus' Trial
Jesus' Crucifixion
Jesus' Resurrection
Jesus' Ascension
The Holy Spirit Comes
The Apostles' Courage
Ananias and Sapphira
Philip and the Eunuch
Saul Encounters Jesus
Peter and Cornelius
Paul in Corinth
Paul in Ephesus
Paul Goes to Rome