Golden Calf Story – Details You Forgot

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.

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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).

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