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Exodus 32-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Gold Calf

32 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god[a] who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!”

Then Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from their hands, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.

Then they said, “Israel, this is your God,[b] who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; then he made an announcement: “There will be a festival to the Lord tomorrow.” Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, then got up to play.

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, this is your God,[c] who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” The Lord also said to Moses: “I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave Me alone, so that My anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from Your great anger and relent concerning this disaster planned for Your people. 13 Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—You swore to them by Your very self and declared, ‘I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and will give your offspring all this land that I have promised, and they will inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord relented concerning the disaster He said He would bring on His people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides—inscribed front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing, engraved on the tablets.

17 When Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.”

18 But Moses replied:

It’s not the sound of a victory cry
and not the sound of a cry of defeat;
I hear the sound of singing!

19 As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became enraged and threw the tablets out of his hands, smashing them at the base of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf they had made, burned it up, and ground it to powder. He scattered the powder over the surface of the water and forced the Israelites to drink the water.

21 Then Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you have led them into such a grave sin?”

22 “Don’t be enraged, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know that the people are intent on evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us a god[d] who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off,’ and they gave it to me. When I threw it into the fire, out came this calf!”

25 Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, resulting in weakness before their enemies.[e] 26 And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. 27 He told them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Every man fasten his sword to his side; go back and forth through the camp from entrance to entrance, and each of you kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and about 3,000 men fell dead that day among the people. 29 Afterward Moses said, “Today you have been dedicated[f] to the Lord, since each man went against his son and his brother. Therefore you have brought a blessing on yourselves today.”

30 The following day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I will be able to atone for your sin.”

31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book You have written.”

33 The Lord replied to Moses: “I will erase whoever has sinned against Me from My book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about; see, My angel will go before you. But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for their sin.” 35 And the Lord inflicted a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

The Tent Outside the Camp

33 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go, leave here, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your offspring. I will send an angel ahead of you and will drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites,[g] Hivites, and Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise, I might destroy you on the way.” When the people heard this bad news, they mourned and didn’t put on their jewelry.

For the Lord said to Moses: “Tell the Israelites: You are a stiff-necked people. If I went with you for a single moment, I would destroy you. Now take off your jewelry, and I will decide what to do with you.” So the Israelites remained stripped of their jewelry from Mount Horeb onward.

Now Moses took a tent and set it up outside the camp, far away from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. Anyone who wanted to consult the Lord would go to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would stand up, each one at the door of his tent, and they would watch Moses until he entered the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 As all the people saw the pillar of cloud remaining at the entrance to the tent, they would stand up, then bow in worship, each one at the door of his tent. 11 The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.

The Lord’s Glory

12 Moses said to the Lord, “Look, You have told me, ‘Lead this people up,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ 13 Now if I have indeed found favor in Your sight, please teach me Your ways, and I will know You and find favor in Your sight. Now consider that this nation is Your people.”

14 Then He replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 “If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here. 16 How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight unless You go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.”

17 The Lord answered Moses, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Please, let me see Your glory.”

19 He said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He answered, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” 21 The Lord said, “Here is a place near Me. You are to stand on the rock, 22 and when My glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.”

New Stone Tablets

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be prepared by morning. Come up Mount Sinai in the morning and stand before Me on the mountaintop. No one may go up with you; in fact, no one must be seen anywhere on the mountain. Even the flocks and herds are not to graze in front of that mountain.”

Moses cut two stone tablets like the first ones. He got up early in the morning, and taking the two stone tablets in his hand, he climbed Mount Sinai, just as the Lord had commanded him.

The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed His name Yahweh. Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:

Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Moses immediately bowed down to the ground and worshiped. Then he said, “My Lord, if I have indeed found favor in Your sight, my Lord, please go with us. Even though this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wrongdoing and sin, and accept us as Your own possession.”

Covenant Obligations

10 And the Lord responded: “Look, I am making a covenant. I will perform wonders in the presence of all your people[h] that have never been done[i] in all the earth or in any nation. All the people you live among will see the Lord’s work, for what I am doing with you is awe-inspiring. 11 Observe what I command you today. I am going to drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites,[j] and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land that you are going to enter; otherwise, they will become a snare among you. 13 Instead, you must tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, and chop down their Asherah poles. 14 You are never to bow down to another god because Yahweh, being jealous by nature,[k] is a jealous God.

15 “Do not make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land, or else when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, they will invite you, and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 Then you will take some of their daughters as brides for your sons. Their daughters will prostitute themselves with their gods and cause your sons to prostitute themselves with their gods.

17 “Do not make cast images of gods for yourselves.

18 “Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread. You are to eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib[l] as I commanded you. For you came out of Egypt in the month of Abib.

19 “The firstborn male from every womb belongs to Me, including all your male[m][n] livestock, the firstborn of cattle or sheep. 20 You must redeem the firstborn of a donkey with a sheep, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. You must redeem all the firstborn of your sons. No one is to appear before Me empty-handed.

21 “You are to labor six days but you must rest on the seventh day; you must even rest during plowing and harvesting times.

22 “Observe the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering[o] at the turn of the agricultural year. 23 Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory. No one will covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord your God.

25 “Do not present[p] the blood for My sacrifice with anything leavened. The sacrifice of the Passover Festival must not remain until morning.

26 “Bring the best firstfruits of your land to the house of the Lord your God.

“You must not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

27 The Lord also said to Moses, “Write down these words, for I have made a covenant with you and with Israel based on these words.”

28 Moses was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets.

Moses’ Radiant Face

29 As Moses descended from Mount Sinai—with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain—he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord.[q] 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone! They were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called out to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community returned to him, and Moses spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he commanded them to do everything the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with Him, he would remove the veil until he came out. After he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 and the Israelites would see that Moses’ face[r] was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil over his face again until he went to speak with the Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 32:1 Or us gods
  2. Exodus 32:4 Or Israel, this is your god, or Israel, these are your gods
  3. Exodus 32:8 Or Israel, this is your god, or Israel, these are your gods
  4. Exodus 32:23 Or us gods
  5. Exodus 32:25 Hb obscure; or resulting in derision
  6. Exodus 32:29 Text emended; MT reads Today dedicate yourselves; LXX, Vg read Today you have dedicated yourselves
  7. Exodus 33:2 Sam, LXX add Girgashites
  8. Exodus 34:10 Lit in all nations
  9. Exodus 34:10 Lit created
  10. Exodus 34:11 DSS, Sam, LXX add Girgashites
  11. Exodus 34:14 Lit Yahweh—His name is Jealous, or Yahweh is jealous for His name, He
  12. Exodus 34:18 March–April; called Nisan in the post-exilic period; Neh 2:1; Est 3:7
  13. Exodus 34:19 LXX, Theod, Vg, Tg read males
  14. Exodus 34:19 Hb obscure
  15. Exodus 34:22 The Festival of Ingathering is called Festival of Booths elsewhere; Lv 23:34-36.
  16. Exodus 34:25 Lit slaughter
  17. Exodus 34:29 Lit with Him
  18. Exodus 34:35 Lit see Moses’ face, that the skin of his face

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