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Exodus 32Amplified Bible (AMP)

The Golden Calf

32 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered together before Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a [a]god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron replied to them, “Take off the gold rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he took the gold from their hands, and fashioned it with an engraving tool and made it into a molten [b]calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw the molten calf, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord!” So they got up early the next day and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; then the people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play [shamefully—without moral restraint].

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked (stubborn, rebellious) people. 10 Now therefore, let Me alone and do not interfere, so that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you (your descendants) a great nation.”

Moses’ Entreaty

11 But Moses appeased and entreated the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil [intent] their God brought them out to kill them in the mountains and destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from Your burning anger and change Your mind about harming Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob), Your servants to whom You swore [an oath] by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He had said He would do to His people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand; tablets that were written on both sides—they were written on one side and on the other. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. 17 Now when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of battle in the camp.” 18 But Moses said,

“It is not the sound of the cry of victory,
Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat;
But I hear the sound of singing.”

Moses’ Anger

19 And as soon as he approached the camp and he saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned; and he threw the tablets from his hands and smashed them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then Moses took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it on the surface of the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought so great a sin on them?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 I said to them, ‘Let whoever has gold [jewelry], take it off.’ So they gave it to me; then I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

25 Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to the point of being an object of mockery among their enemies— 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi [the priestly tribe] gathered together to him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Every man strap his sword on his thigh and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man kill his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor [all who continue pagan worship].’” 28 So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people [of Israel] were killed that day. 29 Then Moses said [to the Levites], “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for each man has been against his own son and his own brother [in his attempt to escape execution]—so that He may restore and bestow His blessing on you this day.”

30 Then the next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin [against You], and have made themselves a god of gold. 32 Yet now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out of Your book which You have written (kill me)!” 33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book [not you]. 34 But now go, lead the people [to the place] where I have told you. Behold, My [c]Angel shall go before you; nevertheless, in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin!” 35 So the Lord struck the people with a plague, because of what they had done with the calf which Aaron had made [for them].

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 32:1 Elohim in the Hebrew, a plural Hebrew form used most often to refer to the true God. It can also mean “gods,” which is an option here, but the account of the golden calf incident implies that the people wanted a single idol (see 32:4 and note). Assuming that they had just one idol in mind, it may be that the Israelites were demanding an idol representing God (Elohim) Himself.
  2. Exodus 32:4 The selection of a calf-god was probably inspired by the Egyptian bull-god Apis (Hapis), believed to be a living manifestation of the Egyptian god, Ptah.
  3. Exodus 32:34 “Angel” has been capitalized here to reflect the likelihood that it is God appearing in a visible form (see note Gen 16:7).
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Exodus 32New International Version (NIV)

The Golden Calf

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, 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 victory,
    it is not the sound of defeat;
    it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 32:1 Or a god; also in verses 23 and 31
  2. Exodus 32:4 Or This is your god; also in verse 8
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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