Exodus 32:17

17 Joshua heard the people shouting and said to Moses, "I hear the sound of battle in the camp."

Exodus 32:17 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 32:17

And when Joshua heard the noise of the people, as they
shouted
Dancing about the calf: when Moses went up into the mount, Joshua went with him, and tarried in a lower part of the mount all the forty days until he returned, see ( Exodus 24:13 ) though not so low as the bottom of the mount where the people were, nor so near it as to know what they did there, for of their affairs he seems to be entirely ignorant; nor so high as where Moses was, or, however, not in the cloud where he conversed with God, for of what passed between them he had no knowledge, until declared by Moses:

he said unto Moses, [there is a] noise of war in the camp;
such a noise as soldiers make in an onset for battle; he supposed that some enemy was come upon and had attacked the people, and that this noise was the noise of the enemy, or of the Israelites, or both, just beginning the battle; or on the finishing of it on the account of victory on one side or the other; and as he was the general of the army, it must give him a concern that he should be absent at such a time.

Exodus 32:17 In-Context

15 Moses went back down the mountain, carrying the two stone tablets with the commandments written on both sides.
16 God himself had made the tablets and had engraved the commandments on them.
17 Joshua heard the people shouting and said to Moses, "I hear the sound of battle in the camp."
18 Moses said, "That doesn't sound like a shout of victory or a cry of defeat; it's the sound of singing."
19 When Moses came close enough to the camp to see the bull-calf and to see the people dancing, he became furious. There at the foot of the mountain, he threw down the tablets he was carrying and broke them.