Exodus 32:1-2

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.”

Exodus 32:1-2 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 32:1-2 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.

Cross References 4

  • 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

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "a god" ; also in verses 23 and 31