1When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered round Aaron and said, ‘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.’2Aaron answered them, ‘Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.’3So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.4He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’6So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterwards they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.7Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.8They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”9‘I have seen these people,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people.10Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’11But Moses sought the favour of the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?12Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.13Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance for ever.” ’14Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.15Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.16The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.17When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, ‘There is the sound of war in the camp.’18Moses replied: ‘It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.’19When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.20And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.21He said to Aaron, ‘What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?’22‘Do not be angry, my lord,’ Aaron answered. ‘You know how prone these people are to evil.23They said to me, “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.”24So I told them, “Whoever has any gold jewellery, take it off.” Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’25Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughing-stock to their enemies.26So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.’ And all the Levites rallied to him.27Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go to and fro through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.” ’28The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.29Then Moses said, ‘You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.’30The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’31So Moses went back to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.32But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.’33The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.34Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.’35And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
English Standard Version
The Golden Calf
1When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who 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.” (Ex 13:21; Ex 24:18; Ex 32:23; De 9:9; Ac 7:40)2So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” (Ex 12:35; Jud 8:24)3So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.4And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (De 9:16; Jud 17:3; 1Ki 12:28; Ne 9:18; Ps 106:19; Ac 7:41)5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” (2Ki 10:20)6And 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. (Ge 26:8; Jud 21:21; 1Co 10:7)7And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (De 9:12; Jud 2:19; Ho 9:9)8They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” (Ex 20:3; Ex 20:23; De 9:16)9And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. (Ex 33:3; Ex 33:5; Ex 34:9; De 9:6; De 9:13; De 31:27; 2Ch 30:8; Isa 48:4; Ac 7:51)10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” (Ex 22:24; Ex 33:3; Nu 14:12; De 9:14)11But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? (De 9:18; De 9:26; Ps 74:1; Ps 106:23)12Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. (Ex 32:14; Nu 14:13; De 32:27)13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” (Ge 12:7; Ge 13:15; Ge 15:7; Ge 15:18; Ge 22:16; Ge 26:4; Ge 28:13; Ge 35:11; Ge 48:16; Heb 6:13)14And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. (1Ch 21:15; Ps 106:45; Jer 18:8; Jer 26:13; Jer 26:15; Jer 26:19; Am 7:3; Am 7:6; Jon 3:10; Jon 4:2)15Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. (Ex 34:29; De 9:15)16The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. (Ex 31:18)17When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” (Ex 17:9; Ex 24:13; Ex 33:11)18But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” (Jer 51:14)19And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. (De 9:16; De 9:21)20He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.21And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” (Ge 20:9)22And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. (Ex 14:11; Ex 15:24; Ex 16:2; Ex 16:20; Ex 17:2; Ex 17:4; 1Sa 15:24)23For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who 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.’ (Ex 32:1)24So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” (Ex 32:2)25And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), (Ex 32:12)26then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.27And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” (Nu 25:5; De 33:9)28And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.29And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.” (Nu 25:11; De 13:6; Zec 13:3; Mt 10:37; Lu 14:26)30The 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.” (Ex 32:21; 1Sa 12:20; 2Sa 16:12; Am 5:15)31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. (Ex 20:23; Ex 32:30)32But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Nu 14:19; Ps 56:8; Ps 69:28; Ps 139:16; Da 12:1; Ro 9:3; Php 4:3)33But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. (Eze 18:4; Eze 18:20)34But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” (Ex 14:19; Ex 33:12)35Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.