Exodus 32:1-14

The Golden Calf

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold 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 took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”
6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.
10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and 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 wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ”
14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Exodus 32:1 in Other Translations

KJV
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
ESV
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, "Up, make us gods 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."
NLT
1 When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”
MSG
1 When the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, "Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt - who knows what's happened to him?"
CSB
1 When the people saw that Moses 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 because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt-we don't know what has happened to him!"

Exodus 32:1-14 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 32

This chapter gives an account of the idolatry of the Israelites making and worshipping a golden calf, Ex 32:1-6 the information of it God gave to Moses, bidding him at the same time not to make any suit in their favour, that he might consume them, and make a large nation out Moses's family, Ex 32:7-10 the intercession of Moses for them, in which he succeeded, Ex 32:11-14 his descent from the mount with the two tables in his hands, accompanied by Joshua, when he was an eyewitness of their idolatry, which raised his indignation, that he cast the two tables out of his hands and broke them, took the calf and burnt it, and ground it to powder, and made the children of Israel drink of it, Ex 32:15-20 the examination of Aaron about the fact, who excused himself, Ex 32:21-24 the orders given to the Levites, who joined themselves to Moses, to slay every man his brother, which they did to the number of 3000 men, Ex 32:25-29 another intercession for them by Moses, which gained a respite of them for a time, for they are threatened to be visited still for their sin, and they were plagued for it, Ex 32:30-35.

Exodus 32:1-14 In-Context

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold 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 took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”
6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.
10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and 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 wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ”
14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.
16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
18 Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

Cross References 32

  • 1. S Genesis 7:4; Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9-12
  • 2. S Exodus 13:21
  • 3. ver 23; Acts 7:40*
  • 4. Judges 8:24-27; Exodus 35:22
  • 5. S Exodus 20:23; Judges 17:3-4; Isaiah 30:22
  • 6. ver 8,24,35; Deuteronomy 9:16; Nehemiah 9:18; Psalms 106:19; Acts 7:41
  • 7. Exodus 20:23; Isaiah 42:17
  • 8. 1 Kings 12:28; 1 Kings 14:9; 2 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Chronicles 13:8; Hosea 8:6; Hosea 10:5
  • 9. Leviticus 23:2,37; 2 Kings 10:20; Joel 2:15
  • 10. Exodus 20:24; Exodus 34:15; Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 4:10; Leviticus 6:12; Leviticus 9:4; Leviticus 22:21; Numbers 6:14; Numbers 25:2; Deuteronomy 27:7; Judges 20:26; Ezekiel 43:27; Acts 7:41
  • 11. Judges 19:4; Ruth 3:3; 1 Samuel 1:9; 2 Samuel 11:11; 1 Kings 13:23; 1 Kings 18:42; Nehemiah 8:12; Job 1:4; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Ecclesiastes 8:15; Jeremiah 16:8
  • 12. ver 17-19; 1 Corinthians 10:7*
  • 13. ver 4,11; Exodus 33:1
  • 14. S Genesis 6:11-12; Ezekiel 20:8; Deuteronomy 9:12
  • 15. Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 16:12; Malachi 2:8; Malachi 3:7
  • 16. S Exodus 20:4
  • 17. S ver 4
  • 18. Exodus 22:20
  • 19. 1 Kings 12:28; Ezekiel 23:8
  • 20. Exodus 33:3,5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6,13; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 31:27; Judges 2:19; 2 Kings 17:14; 2 Chronicles 30:8; 2 Chronicles 36:13; Nehemiah 9:16; Psalms 78:8; Proverbs 29:1; Isaiah 46:12; Isaiah 48:4; Jeremiah 7:26; Ezekiel 2:4; Hosea 4:16; Acts 7:51
  • 21. 1 Samuel 2:25; Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11
  • 22. Exodus 22:24; Exodus 33:3,5; Numbers 16:21,45; Deuteronomy 9:14,19; Psalms 106:23; Jeremiah 14:12; Ezekiel 20:13
  • 23. Numbers 14:12; Deuteronomy 9:14
  • 24. Deuteronomy 9:18; 2 Samuel 21:1; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Psalms 9:10; Psalms 34:4; Psalms 106:23; Isaiah 9:13; Jeremiah 15:1
  • 25. ver 13; Deuteronomy 9:26; 1 Samuel 7:9; Nehemiah 1:10; Psalms 136:12
  • 26. Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:28
  • 27. ver 14; Exodus 33:13
  • 28. S Exodus 2:24; Exodus 33:13
  • 29. S Genesis 22:16; Hebrews 6:13
  • 30. Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4
  • 31. S Genesis 12:7
  • 32. Deuteronomy 9:19; 1 Samuel 15:11; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Kings 21:29; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalms 106:45; Jeremiah 18:8; Jeremiah 26:3,19; Amos 7:3,6; John 3:10

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "a god" ; also in verses 23 and 31
  • [b]. Or "This is your god" ; also in verse 8
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