NLTNew Living Translation
18But Moses replied, “No, it’s not a shout of victory nor the wailing of defeat. I hear the sound of a celebration.”
19When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing, and he burned with anger. He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. 20He took the calf they had made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced the people to drink it.
21Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?”
22“Don’t get so upset, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know how evil these people are. 23They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.’ 24So I told them, ‘Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.’ When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire—and out came this calf!”
25Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.#32:25 Or out of control, and they mocked anyone who opposed them. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. 26So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.
27Moses told them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone—even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” 28The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day.
29Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves#32:29 As in Greek and Latin versions; Hebrew reads Today ordain yourselves. for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.”
Moses Intercedes for Israel
30The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness#32:30 Or to make atonement. for your sin.”
31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. 32But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. All rights reserved.