The Golden Calf

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

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings(D) 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(E) cast in the shape of a calf,(F) fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b](G) Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”(H)

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

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

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

11 But Moses sought the favor(X) 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?(Y) 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’?(Z) Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster(AA) on your people. 13 Remember(AB) your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self:(AC) ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars(AD) in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land(AE) I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented(AF) 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(AG) in his hands.(AH) They were inscribed(AI) 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.(AJ)

17 When Joshua(AK) 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(AL) and the dancing,(AM) his anger burned(AN) and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces(AO) at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf the people had made and burned(AP) it in the fire; then he ground it to powder,(AQ) scattered it on the water(AR) 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,(AS) my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil.(AT) 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.’(AU) 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!”(AV)

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock(AW) 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.’”(AX) 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.(AY) But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement(AZ) for your sin.”

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

33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out(BF) of my book. 34 Now go, lead(BG) the people to the place(BH) I spoke of, and my angel(BI) will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish,(BJ) 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(BK) Aaron had made.

33 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath(BL) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’(BM) I will send an angel(BN) before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.(BO) Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey.(BP) But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked(BQ) people and I might destroy(BR) you on the way.”

When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn(BS) and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.(BT) If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy(BU) you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.(BV)

The Tent of Meeting

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.”(BW) Anyone inquiring(BX) of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents,(BY) watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud(BZ) would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke(CA) with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.(CB) 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face,(CC) as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua(CD) son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’(CE) but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name(CF) and you have found favor(CG) with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways(CH) so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”(CI)

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence(CJ) will go with you, and I will give you rest.”(CK)

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence(CL) does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?(CM) What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”(CN)

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked,(CO) because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”(CP)

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”(CQ)

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass(CR) in front of you, and I will proclaim my name,(CS) the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.(CT) 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see(CU) me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock(CV) and cover you with my hand(CW) until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

The New Stone Tablets

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones,(CX) and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets,(CY) which you broke.(CZ) Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai.(DA) Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain;(DB) not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

So Moses chiseled(DC) out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands.(DD) Then the Lord came down in the cloud(DE) and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord.(DF) And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate(DG) and gracious God, slow to anger,(DH) abounding in love(DI) and faithfulness,(DJ) maintaining love to thousands,(DK) and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.(DL) Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;(DM) he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”(DN)

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor(DO) in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us.(DP) Although this is a stiff-necked(DQ) people, forgive our wickedness and our sin,(DR) and take us as your inheritance.”(DS)

10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant(DT) with you. Before all your people I will do wonders(DU) never before done in any nation in all the world.(DV) The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command(DW) you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.(DX) 12 Be careful not to make a treaty(DY) with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare(DZ) among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.[c](EA) 14 Do not worship any other god,(EB) for the Lord, whose name(EC) is Jealous, is a jealous God.(ED)

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty(EE) with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute(EF) themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.(EG) 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives(EH) for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods,(EI) they will lead your sons to do the same.

17 “Do not make any idols.(EJ)

18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread.(EK) For seven days eat bread made without yeast,(EL) as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv,(EM) for in that month you came out of Egypt.

19 “The first offspring(EN) of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck.(EO) Redeem all your firstborn sons.(EP)

“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.(EQ)

21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest;(ER) even during the plowing season and harvest(ES) you must rest.

22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits(ET) of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering(EU) at the turn of the year.[d] 23 Three times(EV) a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations(EW) before you and enlarge your territory,(EX) and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.

25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast,(EY) and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.(EZ)

26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits(FA) of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.

“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”(FB)

27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write(FC) down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant(FD) with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights(FE) without eating bread or drinking water.(FF) And he wrote on the tablets(FG) the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.(FH)

The Radiant Face of Moses

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai(FI) with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands,(FJ) he was not aware that his face was radiant(FK) because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community(FL) came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands(FM) the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil(FN) over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant.(FO) Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.


  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
  3. Exodus 34:13 That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah
  4. Exodus 34:22 That is, in the autumn

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