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The golden bull-calf.  Ex.32.1-35 - Dt.9.6-29

1WHEN THE PEOPLE SAW that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they confronted Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us gods to go ahead of us. As for this fellow Moses, who brought us up from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' 2Aaron answered them, 'Strip the gold rings from the ears of your wives and daughters, and bring them to me.' 3So all the people stripped themselves of their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4He took them out of their hands, cast the metal in a mould, and made it into the image of a bull-calf. 'These', he said, 'are your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from Egypt.' 5Then Aaron was afraid and built an altar in front of it and issued this proclamation, 'Tomorrow there is to be a pilgrim-feast to the LORD.' 6Next day the people rose early, offered whole-offerings, and brought shared-offerings. After this they sat down to eat and drink and then gave themselves up to revelry. 7But the LORD said to Moses, 'Go down at once, for your people, the people you brought up from Egypt, have done a disgraceful thing; 8so quickly have they turned aside from the way I commanded them. They have made themselves an image of a bull-calf, they have prostrated themselves before it, sacrificed to it and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from Egypt." ' 9So the LORD said to Moses, 'I have considered this people, and I see that they are a stubborn people. 10Now, let me alone to vent my anger upon them, so that I may put an end to them and make a great nation spring from you.' 11But Moses set himself to placate the LORD his God: 'O LORD,' he said, 'why shouldst thou vent thy anger upon thy people, whom thou didst bring out of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? 12Why let the Egyptians say, "So he meant evil when he took them out, to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth"? Turn from thy anger, and think better of the evil thou dost intend against thy people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thy own self: "I will make your posterity countless as the stars in the sky, and all this land, of which I have spoken, I will give to them, and they shall possess it for ever." ' 14So the LORD relented, and spared his people the evil with which he had threatened them.

15Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Tokens in his hands, inscribed on both sides ; on the front and on the back they were inscribed. 16The tablets were the handiwork of God, and the writing was God's writing, engraved on the tablets. 17Joshua, hearing the uproar the people were making, said to Moses, 'Listen! There is fighting in the camp.' 18Moses replied,

19As he approached the camp, Moses saw the bull-calf and the dancing, and he was angry; he flung the tablets down, and they were shattered to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20Then he took the calf they had made and burnt it; he ground it to powder, sprinkled it on water, and made the Israelites drink it. 21He demanded of Aaron, 'What did this people do to you that you should have brought such great guilt upon them?' 22Aaron replied, 'Do not be angry, sir. The people were deeply troubled; that you well know. 23And they said to me, "Make us gods to go ahead of us, because, as for this fellow Moses, who brought us up from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 24So I said to them, "Those of you who have any gold, strip it off." They gave it me, I threw it in the fire, and out came this bull-calf.' 25Moses saw that the people were out of control and that Aaron had laid them open to the secret malice of their enemies. 26He took his place at the gate of the camp and said, 'Who is on the LORD's side? Come here to me'; and the Levites all rallied to him. 27He said to them, 'These are the words of the LORD the God of Israel: "Arm yourselves, each of you, with his sword. Go through the camp from gate to gate and back again. Each of you kill his brother, his friend, his neighbour." ' 28The Levites obeyed, and about three thousand of the people died that day. 29Moses then said, 'Today you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD completely, because you have turned each against his own son and his own brother and so have this day brought a blessing upon yourselves.'

30The next day Moses said to the people, 'You have committed a great sin. I shall now go up to the LORD; perhaps I may be able to secure pardon for your sin.' 31So Moses returned to the LORD and said, 'O hear me! This people has committed a great sin: they have made themselves gods of gold. If thou wilt forgive them, forgive. 32But if not, blot out my name, I pray, from thy book which thou hast written.' 33The LORD answered Moses, 'It is the man who has sinned against me that I will blot out from my book. 34But go now, lead the people to the place which I have told you of. My angel shall go ahead of you, but a day will come when I shall punish them for their sin.' 35And the LORD smote the people for worshipping the bull-calf which Aaron had made.

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