Exodus 32:1-35 Reading the Passage

Take Sin Seriously – Exodus 32:1-35

32 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, Come, make us a god who will go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him. (2) Aaron said to them, Break off the earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me. (3) So all the people broke off the gold earrings they were wearing and brought them to Aaron. (4) He took what they handed over to him, and fashioning the gold with a craving tool, he made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf. Then they said, This represents your God, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! (5) When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf, and made a proclamation, saying, Tomorrow there shall be a feast for Jehovah. (6) So the next day the people rose early and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and then got up to indulge in revelry.

(7) Jehovah said to Moses, Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (8) They have been quick to depart from the way I commanded them. They have made for themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have worshiped it and offered sacrifices to it and have said, This represents your God, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. (9) Jehovah said to Moses, I have observed these people, they are an obstinate* people. (10) Now, therefore, leave me alone so that my anger may burn hot against them and that I may consume them. Then I will make you into a great nation. (11) But Moses earnestly implored Jehovah his God, saying, Jehovah, why does your anger burn hot against your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? (12) Why should the Egyptians be permitted to say, It was with evil intent that he brought them out, so that he might kill them in the mountains and consume them from off the face of the earth? Turn from your fierce anger and do not bring disaster upon your people. (13) Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the sky, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever. (14) So Jehovah relented and did not bring upon his people the disaster he had threatened.

(15) Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. The tablets were inscribed on both sides; they had inscriptions on the front and the back. (16) The tablets were the work of God; the writing was God’s own writing, engraved on the tablets. (17) When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, There is the sound of war in the camp! (18) Moses replied, It is not the sound of those who shout in victory, neither is it the sound of those who cry out in defeat; rather, I hear the sound of those who sing. (19) As soon as he approached the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. Then Moses’ anger burned hot and he flung the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. (20) He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.

(21) Then Moses said to Aaron, What did these people do to you to cause you to bring this great sin upon them? (22) Aaron replied, Do not let my lord’s anger burn hot. You know these people, that they are prone to evil. (23) They said to me, Make us a god who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him. (24) So I said to them, Whoever has any gold earrings, let him break them off. So they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf! (25) When Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had allowed them to get out of control and, consequently, they had become a derision among their enemies—(26) he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, Whoever is on Jehovah’s side, let him come to me! All the sons of Levi rallied around him. (27) He said to them, This is what Jehovah, the God of Israel, says: Let each man strap on his sword. Go back and forth throughout the camp from one end to the other. Let each man kill his brother, let each man kill his friend, let each man kill his neighbor! (28) And the sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people were killed. (29) Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to Jehovah today—every man against his son and against his brother—so that Jehovah may bestow a blessing upon you this day.

(30) The next day Moses said to the people, You have committed a great sin. Now I will go up to Jehovah, perhaps I will be able to make atonement for your sin. (31) So Moses returned to Jehovah and said, Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made for themselves a god of gold. (32) But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. (33) Jehovah said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (34) Now go, lead these people to the place of which I have spoken to you. My angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, on the day that I punish, I will punish them for their sin. (35) So Jehovah struck the people with a plague because of what they had done with the calf Aaron had made.

*Literally, “stiff-necked”

Now proceed to the next section of this study, entitled, Exploring the Passage.