This chapter is about the golden calf. This is always a GREAT chapter! I’ve always loved this one! This is what’s happening while Moses is up talking to God about on Mount Sinai. Aaron isn’t the most disciplined of priests. He’s also would’ve made a hell of a politician because he flip-flops quickly when Moses isn’t there. The word of the day is: Peer Pressure. Moses comes down from the mountain & gets VERY uhm…p’oed. It gets good. I hope you enjoy the read.
The Israelites thought that Moses was taking too long talking to God on Mount Sinai. They came to Aaron & told him to make them gods. They said that they didn’t know what had happened to Moses.
Aaron told them to bring all the gold earrings that they were wearing to him. So the Israelites brought Aaron all of their earrings. Aaron took what he was handed & casted an idol that was in the shape of a calf. The Israelites said that this was their God, who had brought them out of Egypt. Aaron saw this & built an altar in front of the golden calf (That must have been a lot of earrings! This was before they had even started building the tabernacle, or the Ark, or anything to do with the gold of the “temple.”) & said that the next day there would be a festival to God.
The next day everyone woke up early & sacrificed offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat & drink, plus they indulged in revelry (Check out 1st Corinthians 10:7.). God tells Moses that he needs to get back down the mountain because the Israelites were corrupt. That they’ve turned easily from what God said & like smacking God in the face, they made an idol! God tells Moses to leave Him so that His anger can burn against the Israelites & that He was going to destroy them. And apparently make Moses into a great nation. (Yep, God wasn’t gonna play around with the Israelites! God wanted to be alone so He could get more mad at the Israelites. Then after He was sufficiently mad, God was gonna destroy the Israelites. In the context, God was gonna wipe the Israelites off the map. No questions, no ‘I’m sorry, Dad”s, no nothing. Then after all that, God was gonna give Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob’s promise to Moses. And Moses would’ve been the man! They would’ve been the Mosesites, instead of the Israelites.)
Moses sought the favor of God. Moses asked why His anger would burn against God’s own people. Moses then tells God that the Egyptians would say that our God brought us into the desert to kill them. Moses pleaded with God to turn from His anger & to not bring disaster to the Israelites. Then Moses reminded God about His promise to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob/Israel. (Why does a mere mortal have to remind an omnipotent, all-knowing deity of anything?!) God relented.
Moses went down the mountain with the “two tablets of the Testimony” (traditionally these are the 10 commandments) in his hands. The tablets were inscribed on both sides, front & back. These tablets were the work of God.
Joshua heard the noise of the Israelites shouting. Joshua thought it was the sounds of war. But Moses said, “Nope. It’s singing you hear, good buddy.” When Moses got near the camp & saw the calf plus the dancing, he got P-O’ed. He got so mad that he (Moses) threw the tablets, which broke to pieces, at the foot of the mountain. Moses then took the golden calf they’d made, smelted it down, ground it into powder, scattered it on the water, & made the Israelites drink it! (Damn, savagery!)
Moses then turns on Aaron. Moses asks Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that YOU led them into such great sin?” (Exodus 32:21) Aaron answers Moses, “Don’t be mad! You know that these guys are prone to evil!! (Aaron is TOTALLY throwing the WHOLE Israelite community under the bus!) They made me do it! (This is the ancient way of saying “the devil made me do it.”) So I did what they asked me to do!”
The people (Israelites) were running wild & Aaron let them get out of control. The Israelites became a laughingstock to their enemies. (I love how the bible actually says that it was pretty much Aaron’s fault.) So Moses stood at the entrance to the camp & said “Whoever is for God, come here.” All of the Levites rallied to him.
Moses then said to the Levites (Brace yourselves. Fun times ahead.): “This is what the God of Israel has said: ‘Each man strap on a sword. Go back & forth through the camp. Each man killing his brother, friend, & neighbor.'” So the Levites did as Moses said. Moses then tells them that they’ve been set apart that day, for God. And Moses tells the Levites that God has blessed them that day. About 3,000 Israelites died that day.
The next day Moses says to the Israelites that they’ve committed a “great sin.” Moses then tells them that he’s gonna go talk to God to see if he (Moses), alone, could get them out of this mess. So Moses goes back to God & begs. Moses says, “…,please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you’ve written.” (Exodus 32:32) (I find this very interesting. Because in verse 32 & 33 are the only mentions of this mysterious “book.” Now I’m now sure if this is the same book as in Revelations 21:27.) God says to Moses that whoever sinned against Him would be blotted out of His book.
God tells Moses to go lead the Israelites to the place that He spoke about. Moses is also told about the angel that went before them. God did warn Moses though. God let it be known that punishment was coming for the Israelites. (They weren’t getting off so easily!)
God struck the Israelites with a plague because of the whole golden calf situation. (It doesn’t say what the plague was. Like the plague of frogs, blood, etc.)