The Golden Calf
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, [they] gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, Up, make us gods to 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. 2 So Aaron replied, Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and daughters, and bring them to me. 3 So all the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold at their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it a molten calf; and they said, These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt! 5 And when Aaron saw the molten calf, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord. 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
7 The Lord said to Moses, Go down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, These are your gods, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt! 9 And the Lord said to Moses, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; 10 Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and that I may destroy them; but I will make of you a great nation.
11 But Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why does Your wrath blaze hot against Your people, whom You have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, For evil He brought them forth, to slay them in the mountains and consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and change Your mind concerning this evil against Your people. 13 [Earnestly] remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self and said to them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever. 14 Then the Lord turned from the evil which He had thought to do to His people.
15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the Testimony in his hand, tables or tablets that were written on both sides. 16 The tables were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 But Moses said, It is not the sound of shouting for victory, neither is it the sound of the cry of the defeated, but the sound of singing that I hear.
19 And as soon as he came near to the camp he saw the calf and the dancing. And Moses' anger blazed hot and he cast the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
21 And Moses said to Aaron, What did this people do to you, that you have brought so great a sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord blaze hot; you know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, Make us gods which 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. 24 I said to them, Those who have any gold, let them take it off. So they gave it to me; then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
25 And when Moses saw that the people were unruly and unrestrained (for Aaron had let them get out of control, so that they were a derision and object of shame among their enemies), 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Whoever is on the Lord's side, let him come to me. And all the Levites [the priestly tribe] gathered together to him. 27 And he said to them, Thus says the Lord God of Israel, Every man put his sword on his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about 3000 men. 29 And Moses said [to the Levites, By your obedience to God's command] you have consecrated yourselves today [as priests] to the Lord, each man [at the cost of being] against his own son and his own brother, that the Lord may restore and bestow His blessing upon you this day.
30 The next day Moses said to the people, You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin. 31 So Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin -- "and if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book which You have written! 33 But the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him [not you] out of My book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place of which I have told you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I punish I will visit their sin upon them! 35 And the Lord sent a plague upon the people because they made the calf which Aaron fashioned for them.