Golden Calf Story – Details You Forgot by Myra Kahn Adams for Town Hall
Thanks for joining our study about the famous Golden Calf. A violent story recorded in Exodus 32 of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. A “bumper sticker” summation is: “You make God angry – you suffer.” My interpretative subtitles try to enhance the paraphrasing and Scripture quoting. And so begins this fateful saga when:
God’s people were impatient and lacked trust.
Remember that God miraculously delivered the Israelite people from Egyptian bondage — commanded by Moses, God’s chosen leader. Shortly after, Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to meet with God and received the Ten Commandments.
Meanwhile, the people were waiting in the desert and grew impatient for Moses to descend the mountain — “forty days and forty nights,” according to Exodus 24:18. Long enough for the Israelites to lose faith in Moses and God. Thus, the people complained to Aaron, the high priest and brother of Moses, saying: “ ‘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’ ” (Exodus 32:1).
Aaron was a weak leader who did not stand up for God or his brother Moses and encouraged idol worship.
Aaron responded: “ ‘Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.’ ” Aaron “took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.” Then the people said, “ ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt’ ”(Exodus 32: 2-4).
But Aaron did not condone the people or the idolatrous calf. Worse, “he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “ ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord’ ” (Exodus 32: 5- 6). Aaron hosted a debaucherous hoedown to celebrate the calf and worship a false god.
God fumed with anger as He watched. (Yes, God watches everything.)
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, [the mountain] because your people whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 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 ..” The Lord continued, “I have seen these people and they are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 32: 7-9).