Cf. Dt 9:7-21
where this story is repeated but without God's killings.
And when the people saw that
Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered
themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods,
which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of
the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
(32:1-4) Make us gods
The people ask Aaron to make gods (since Moses has been gone so long up on the mountain)
Aaron makes a golden calf and tells the
people to take off their clothes and dance around naked. God then punishes them
mercilessly for following their divinely appointed religious leader.
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the
ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto
And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears,
and brought them unto Aaron.
(32:2-3) Aaron said to them, Break off the golden earrings ... and bring them unto me.
Aaron told them to give him their gold earrings. So everyone gave Aaron their earrings.
32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool,
after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O
Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
(32:4) And he ... made it a molten calf.
Aaron made a molten calf from the gold earrings. The people said, "These are the gods that brought us out of Egypt."
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made
proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
(32:5) Aaron built an altar and proclaimed, "Tomorrow is a feast day to the Lord."
And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and
brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and
rose up to play.
(32:6) So the next day, they get up early to make offerings. Then they eat, drink and play.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which
thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they
have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed
thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up
out of the land of Egypt.
(32:7-8) God tells Moses to go down the mountain, because the people have made a golden calf.
Moses talks God out of killing everyone
And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is
a stiffnecked people:
(32:9-14) God tells Moses to leave him alone so he can get angry,
kill all the people, and make a new, great nation. But, luckily, Moses talked him out of it, using
the age-old argument, "What will the neighbors think?".
Now therefore ,let me
alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them:
and I will make of thee a great nation.
(32:10) Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them.
32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said,
LORD, why doth thy wrath
wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of
Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring
them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face
of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against
(32:11-12) Moses tries to talk God out of killing everyone, by saying,
"What will the Etyptians say?"
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by
thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars
of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your
seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
(32:13) Moses also reminded God of his promises to multiply the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And the LORD repented of the evil which he
thought to do unto his people.
(32:14) And it worked! God repented of the evil he planned to do.
And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do.
Does God repent?
But how could a good God even
consider doing evil to anyone? And how could an unchangeable God change his mind?
Moses breaks the stone tablets
(and forces the people to drink burnt golden calf soup)
And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the
testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on
the one side and on the other were they written.
And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of
God, graven upon the tables.
(32:15-16) After God repented, Moses went down the mountain with the two two-sided stone tablets that God had written.
And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said
unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither
is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them
that sing do I hear.
(32:17-18) When Joshua heard the people's noise, he thought there was a war.
(It turned out to be singing.)
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw
the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the
tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and
ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of
Israel drink of it.
(32:19-20) He cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them.
When Moses saw the people dancing naked (see v.25) around Aaron's golden calf, he smashed the stone tablets,
burned the golden calf (gold doesn't burn), ground it into powder, and then forced it down the throats
of all the people.
Is dancing a sin?
And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast
brought so great a sin upon them?
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the
people, that they are set on mischief.
For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for
this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not
what is become of him.
(32:21-24) Moses asked Aaron, how did this all happen?
Aaron said, "Don't blame me. The people made me do it. I just asked them for their gold earrings, threw them on the fire,
and out came this golden calf!"
And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So
they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
(32:24) I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then
I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
God forces people to kill their family, friends, and neighbors
And when Moses saw that
the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame
among their enemies:)
(32:25) Moses saw that the people were naked;
(for Aaron had made them naked.)
Aaron makes the people dance naked around his
golden calf. When Moses saw that the people were naked
(for Aaron made them naked), he asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?" And the Levites (priests) said, "We are."
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's
side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves
together unto him.
And he said unto them, Thus
saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in
and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay
every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his
(32:27) God commanded the people to kill their brothers, friends, and neighbors.
Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side ... and slay every man his brother,
and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses:
and there fell of the
people that day about three thousand men.
For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every
man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a
blessing this day.
(32:28) And the Levites did as they were told, killing 3000 men.
And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that
day about three thousand men.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye
have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I
shall make an atonement for your sin.
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a
great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray
thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
(32:30-32) Moses asks God to blot him out of his book (if God won't forgive the people's sin)
The Lord plagued the people
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I
blot out of my book.
(32:33) God says he will blot out of his book
anyone who has sinned against him.
Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken
unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day
when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
(32:34) God tells Moses to lead the people to the place he had talked about
His angel will go before them. (God will punish them all later.)
And the LORD plagued
the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.