Then Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting. He said to Moses, "It's the sound of war in the camp!"
Moses replied, "It's not the sound of winners shouting. It's not the sound of losers crying. It's the sound of a wild celebration that I hear."
When he came near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. In a burst of anger Moses threw down the tablets and smashed them at the foot of the mountain.
Then he took the calf they had made, burned it, ground it into powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.
Moses asked Aaron, "What did these people do to you that you encouraged them to commit such a serious sin?"
"Don't be angry, sir," Aaron answered. "You know that these people are evil.
They said to me, 'We don't know what's happened to this Moses who brought us out of Egypt. Make gods for us. They will lead us.'
So I told them to take off any gold they were wearing. They gave it to me. I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
Aaron had let the people get out of control, and they became an object of ridicule to their enemies. When Moses saw this,
he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "If you're on the LORD's side, come over here to me!" Then all the Levites gathered around him.
He said to them, "This is what the LORD God of Israel says: Each of you put on your sword. Go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other, and kill your relatives, friends, and neighbors."