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32
Israel Worships a Golden Calf
1The people saw that Moses took a long time to come down from the mountain. So they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, "Come. Make us a god that will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don't know what has happened to him."
2Aaron answered them, "Take the gold earrings off your wives, your sons and your daughters. Bring the earrings to me."
3So all of the people took off their earrings. They brought them to Aaron. 4He took what they gave him and made it into a metal statue of a god. It looked like a calf. He shaped it with a tool.
Then the people said, "Israel, here is your god who brought you up out of Egypt."
5When Aaron saw it, he built an altar in front of the calf. He said, "Tomorrow will be a feast day in the Lord's honor."
6So the next day the people got up early. They sacrificed burnt offerings and brought friendship offerings. They sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance wildly in front of their god.
7The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, "Go down. Your people you brought up out of Egypt have become very sinful. 8They have quickly turned away from what I commanded them. They have made themselves a statue of a god that looks like a calf. They have bowed down and sacrificed to it. And they have said, 'Israel, here is your god who brought you up out of Egypt.'
9"I have seen those people," the Lord said to Moses. "They are stubborn. 10Now leave me alone. My anger will burn against them. I will destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."
11But Moses asked the Lord his God to show favor to the people. "Lord," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people? You used your great power and mighty hand to bring them out of Egypt. 12Why should the Egyptians say, 'He brought them out to hurt them. He wanted to kill them in the mountains. He wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn away from your burning anger. Please take pity on your people. Don't destroy them!
13"Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel. You made a promise. You took an oath in your name. You said, 'I will make your children after you as many as the stars in the sky. I will give them all of this land I promised them. It will belong to them forever.' "
14Then the Lord took pity on his people. He didn't destroy them as he had said he would.
15Moses turned and went down the mountain. He had the two tablets of the covenant in his hands. Words were written on both sides of the tablets, front and back. 16The tablets were the work of God. The words had been written by God. They had been carved on the tablets.
17Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting. So he said to Moses, "It sounds like war in the camp."
18Moses replied, "It's not the sound of winning.
It's not the sound of losing.
It's the sound of singing that I hear."
19As Moses approached the camp, he saw the calf. He also saw the people dancing. So he burned with anger. He threw the tablets out of his hands. They broke into pieces at the foot of the mountain.
20He took the calf the people had made. He burned it in the fire. Then he ground it into powder. He scattered it on the water. And he made the people of Israel drink it.
21He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you? How did they make you lead them into such terrible sin?"
22"Please don't be angry," Aaron answered. "You know how these people like to do what is evil. 23They said to me, 'Make us a god that will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don't know what has happened to him.'
24"So I told them, 'Anyone who has any gold jewelry, take it off.' They gave me the gold. I threw it into the fire. And out came this calf!"
25Moses saw that the people were running wild. Aaron had let them get out of control. The people had become a joke to their enemies.
26Moses stood at the entrance to the camp. He said, "Anyone who is on the Lord's side, come to me." All of the Levites joined him.
27Then he spoke to them. He said, "The Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'Each man must put on his sword. Then he must go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other. Each man must kill his brother, friend and neighbor.' " 28The Levites did as Moses commanded. About 3,000 of the people died that day. 29Then Moses said to the Levites, "You have been set apart for the Lord today. You stood against your own sons and brothers. And he has blessed you this day."
30The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a terrible sin. But now I will go up to the Lord. Maybe if I pray to him, he will forgive your sin."
31So Moses went back to the Lord. He said, "These people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a god out of gold for themselves. 32Now please forgive their sin. But if you won't, then erase my name from the scroll you have written."
33The Lord replied to Moses, "I will erase from my scroll only the names of those who have sinned against me. 34Now go. Lead the people to the place I spoke about. My angel will go ahead of you. But when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."
35The Lord struck the people with a plague. That's because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
32
The Golden Calf
1#Ex 24:18; Ac 7:40Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us gods which will 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.”
2#Ex 12:35–36; Jdg 8:24–27Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people broke off the gold earrings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4#Dt 9:16; Ne 9:18He received them from their hand, and fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
5#2Ki 10:20; Lev 23:2When Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the Lord.” 6#1Co 10:7; Nu 25:2So they rose up early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7#Dt 9:12; Ex 32:11The Lord spoke to Moses, “Go, and get down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8#Ex 20:3–4; 20:23They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molded calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, which has brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ ”
9#Ex 33:3; 33:5Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and certainly, it is a stiff-necked people. 10#Dt 9:14; Nu 14:12; Dt 9:19Now therefore let Me alone, so that My wrath may burn against them and I may destroy them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
11#Dt 9:18–20; 9:26–29But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, why does Your wrath burn against Your people, whom You have brought forth from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12#Nu 14:13–16; Dt 9:28Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent of this harm against Your people. 13#Ge 12:7; 22:16Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.’ ” 14#Ps 106:45; 2Sa 24:16Then the Lord relented of the harm which He said He would do to His people.
15#Dt 9:15Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of testimony in his hand. The tablets were written on both their sides. They were written on one side and on the other. 16#Ex 31:18The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing, engraved on the tablets.
17#Ex 17:9; 24:13When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.”
18But he said:
“It is not the sound of those who shout for victory,
nor is it the sound of those who cry because of being overcome,
but I hear the sound of singing.”
19#Dt 9:16–17As soon as he came near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing, and Moses’ anger burned, so he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the bottom of the mountain. 20#Dt 9:21Then he took the calf which they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it.
21#Ge 20:9Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
22#Dt 9:24; Ex 14:11Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn. You know that the people are set on evil. 23#Ex 32:1–4For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us which will go before us, for this Moses, the man that brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24#Ex 32:4I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and then I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.’ ”
25Now when Moses saw the people were in a frenzy, for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies, 26then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered themselves together around him.
27#Nu 25:5He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’ ” 28#Dt 33:9The Levites did according to the word of Moses, and about three thousand men of the people died that day. 29#Nu 25:11–13; Zec 13:3For Moses had said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow a blessing on you this day, for every man opposes his son and his brother.”
30#1Sa 12:20; Nu 25:13On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin, and now I will go up to the Lord. Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
31#Ex 20:23; 32:30Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, this people has committed a great sin and have made a god of gold for themselves. 32#Ps 69:28; Da 12:1Yet now, if You will, forgive their sin, but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
33#Eze 18:4Then the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34#Ex 23:20; Dt 32:35So go now, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Indeed, My angel will go before you. Nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will indeed punish them for their sin.”
35And the Lord plagued the people because they had made the calf, the one that Aaron made.