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.” 2 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.” 3 So all the people took off the gold rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 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.” 5 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!” 6 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].
7 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. 8 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!’” 9 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.”
Exodus 32:1Elohim 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.
Exodus 32:4The 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.
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