When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 2 Aaron said 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.’ 3 So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ 6 They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel. 7 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ 9 The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’ 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord , why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with 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 consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
Notes on Exodus 32:1-14.
“O God, the people are revolting!” Can you hear Moses uttering those words? The people who he led out of Egypt complained. Constantly. They were unhappy even with the ways in which they had been cared. For. They whinged and they painted a false picture of how idyllic their past had actually been. When the progress through the desert didn’t go as fast as they wanted they tried to speed things up through their own efforts, bypassing God and Moses. This did NOT go well. An interesting aspect of the saga is that it seems that God had enough of the grumbling people but Moses kept pleading for ‘one more chance’. And God listened. The more consistent theme throughout the Bible is that it is God who constantly shows love and forgiveness, and that Moses was connecting with this consistency.