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32
The Gold Calf
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.”
2 Aaron said to them, “Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me.”
3 So all the people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron. 4 After he had worked on the gold with a tool,#Hebrew meaning uncertain. he made it into a statue of a calf.
Then they said, “Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival in the Lord’s honor.”
6 Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought fellowship offerings. Afterward, they sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy.
7 The Lord said to Moses, “Go back down there. Your people whom you brought out of Egypt have ruined ⌊everything⌋. 8 They’ve already turned from the way I commanded them to live. They’ve made a statue of a calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it. They’ve said, ‘Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.’ ”
9 The Lord added, “I’ve seen these people, and they are impossible to deal with. 10 Now leave me alone. I’m so angry with them I am going to destroy them. Then I’ll make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why are you so angry with your people whom you brought out of Egypt using your great power and mighty hand? 12 Don’t let the Egyptians say, ‘He was planning all along to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth. That’s why he brought them out ⌊of our land⌋.’ Don’t be so angry. Reconsider your decision to bring this disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You took an oath, swearing on yourself. You told them, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I will give to your descendants all the land I spoke of. It will be their permanent possession.’ ”
14 So the Lord reconsidered his threat to destroy his people.
15 Moses turned and went down the mountain carrying the two tablets with God’s words. They were written on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing inscribed on the tablets.
17 Then Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting. He said to Moses, “It’s the sound of war in the camp!”
18 Moses replied,
“It’s not the sound of winners shouting.
It’s not the sound of losers crying.
It’s the sound of a wild celebration #Hebrew meaning of “wild celebration” uncertain. that I hear.”
19 When he came near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. In a burst of anger Moses threw down the tablets and smashed them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf they had made, burned it, ground it into powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.
21 Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you encouraged them to commit such a serious sin?”
22 “Don’t be angry, sir,” Aaron answered. “You know that these people are evil. 23 They said to me, ‘We don’t know what’s happened to this Moses who brought us out of Egypt. Make gods for us. They will lead us.’ 24 So I told them to take off any gold they were wearing. They gave it to me. I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
25 Aaron had let the people get out of control, and they became an object of ridicule to their enemies. When Moses saw this, 26 he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “If you’re on the Lord’s side, come over here to me!” Then all the Levites gathered around him.
27 He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: Each of you put on your sword. Go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other, and kill your relatives, friends, and neighbors.”
28 The Levites did what Moses told them, and that day about 3,000 people died.
29 Moses said, “Today you are ordained as the Lord’s priests. God gave you a blessing today because each of you fought with your own sons and brothers.”#Or “God gave you a blessing today at the cost of your own sons and brothers.”
Moses Begs the Lord to Spare the People
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a serious sin. Now I will go up the mountain to the Lord. Maybe I will be able to make a payment for your sin and make peace with the Lord for your sin.”
31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “These people have committed such a serious sin! They made gods out of gold for themselves. 32 But will you forgive their sin? If not, please wipe me out of the book you have written.”
33 The Lord answered Moses, “I will wipe out of my book whoever sins against me. 34 Now, go! Lead the people to the place I told you about. My Messenger will go ahead of you. But when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 So the Lord killed people because they had Aaron make the calf.
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.