Bible study 82 – Exodus 32

Another famous sequence! Since Moses is gone for so long up on the mountain, the Israelites are getting restless and have Aaron make a golden calf-statue out of their gold earrings. They pretend that this statue is God, and worship it. This angers God, since he just told them (in chapter 20) that “You shall not make for yourself an idol”, and he decides to kill all the Israelites apart from Moses.

Moses manages to calm God down, and convinces him not to kill all the Israelites. Moses has a much more humane way of dealing with the situation. After crushing the stone tablets, he grounds the golden statue into powder, mixes it with water, and makes all the Israelites drink the poisoned water. Then he has his Levite family murder three thousand Israelite civilians at random (the Levites’ ancestor Levi, you’ll recall, slaughtered the population of Shechem in chapter 34 of Genesis). There is no mention of specifically targeting people who were directly involved in the worshipping or construction of the calf statue. Like Aaron. Who just happens to be Moses’ brother and closest friend, and apparently goes completely unpunished. Perhaps God should consider amending his commandments to also prohibit indiscriminate mass-murder, instead of only regular murder.

After all this, God’s rage finally boils over, and he sends a plague over the Israelites anyway (the human consequences are not expanded upon).

Exodus 32:20
He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

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3 Comments on “Bible study 82 – Exodus 32”

  1. […] Aaron and his sister Miriam complain that Moses has a foreign wife (presumably Zipporah from Midian), and say that they can be prophets too. God gathers them in the tabernacle and explains that while they may see prophetic dreams, Moses is the only one God speaks to directly. To drive the point home, he also gives Miriam tsara’at temporarily. (I’m guessing the only reason Miriam is in the story is so she can be punished instead of Aaron, who does silly things all the time without being punished.) […]

  2. […] do, as he has always done, and which has never gotten him in trouble before, even when he clearly broke the rules? Incredibly, yes. And the punishment for following Moses around and lending him his […]

  3. […] to Jacob, and because the Canaanites are wicked. He then gives a somewhat distorted account of the incident with the golden calf and its consequences, skillfully avoiding any mention of the mass murder he had the Levites […]


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