"So I told them, 'Anyone who has any gold jewelry, take it off.' They gave me the gold. I threw it into the fire. And out came this calf!"
Moses saw that the people were running wild. Aaron had let them get out of control. The people had become a joke to their enemies.
Moses stood at the entrance to the camp. He said, "Anyone who is on the LORD's side, come to me." All of the Levites joined him.
Then he spoke to them. He said, "The Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'Each man must put on his sword. Then he must go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other. Each man must kill his brother, friend and neighbor.' "
The Levites did as Moses commanded. About 3,000 of the people died that day.
Then Moses said to the Levites, "You have been set apart for the LORD today. You stood against your own sons and brothers. And he has blessed you this day."
The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a terrible sin. But now I will go up to the Lord. Maybe if I pray to him, he will forgive your sin."
So Moses went back to the Lord. He said, "These people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a god out of gold for themselves.
Now please forgive their sin. But if you won't, then erase my name from the scroll you have written."
The LORD replied to Moses, "I will erase from my scroll only the names of those who have sinned against me.
Now go. Lead the people to the place I spoke about. My angel will go ahead of you. But when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."