New American Bible (Revised Edition)
VII. Israel’s Apostasy and God’s Renewal of the Covenant
The Golden Calf. 1 When the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for that man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.”(A) 2 Aaron replied, “Take off the golden earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He received their offering, and fashioning it with a tool, made a molten calf. Then they cried out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you[a] up from the land of Egypt.”(B) 5 On seeing this, Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord.” 6 Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought communion sacrifices. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.(C)
7 (D)Then the Lord said to Moses: Go down at once because your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way I commanded them, making for themselves a molten calf and bowing down to it, sacrificing to it and crying out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 9 (E)I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are, continued the Lord to Moses. 10 Let me alone, then, that my anger may burn against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.Read full chapter
- 32:4–5 Who brought you…a feast of the Lord: it seems that the golden calf was intended as an image, not of another god, but of the Lord, whose strength was symbolized by the strength of a young bull. The Israelites, however, had been forbidden to represent the Lord under any visible form. Cf. 20:4. In the tenth century Jeroboam made golden calves for the shrines at Bethel and Dan, presumably to function as thrones for the Lord as the ark did in Jerusalem (see 1 Kgs 12:27–30).