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HOW AARON MADE A GOLDEN CALF, AND WHAT BECAME OF IT
Exodus xxxii: 1, to xxiv: 35.
HILE Moses was in the mountain alone with God, a strange and
wicked thing was done in the camp on the plain. At
first the people were alarmed when they saw the
mountain smoking, and heard the thunder. But soon they
grew accustomed to it, and when day after day passed,
and Moses did not come down, at last they said to
"Come now, make us a god that we may worship, and that
we may have to lead us. As for Moses, the man who
brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know
what has become of him."
Aaron was not a man of strong will, as Moses was. When
his brother Moses was not by his side Aaron was weak,
and ready to yield to the wishes of the people. Aaron
"If you must have a god that you can look at; then
break off the gold earrings that are in your ears, and
in the ears of your wives and children, and bring them
Then the people brought their gold to Aaron; and Aaron
melted the gold rings into one mass, and shaped it with
a graving tool into the form of a calf, and this he
brought out and stood up before the people. Then they
all cried out:
"This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of
the land of Egypt."
And Aaron built an altar before the image, and he said
to all the people, "To-morrow shall be a feast to the
Perhaps Aaron thought that if the people could have
before them an image that they could see, they might
still be kept to the worship of the Lord God. But in
this he was greatly mistaken.
 The people came to the feast, and offered sacrifices;
and then they began to dance around the altar, and to
do wicked deeds together, as they had seen the people
of Egypt doing before their idols. And all this time
the mountain was smoking and flashing with fire, almost
over their heads!
And the Lord, up in the mountain, spoke to Moses, and
and get down to the camp; for your people have
done very wickedly. They have made for themselves an
idol, and they are worshipping it now. I am angry with
them, and am ready to destroy them all, and to make of
your children a great nation."
And Moses pleaded with the Lord for Israel, and God did
not destroy the people; but he sent Moses down to them,
holding in his hands the two stone tables on which God
had written the Ten Commandments. As he went down the
mountain Joshua joined him, and said to him:
"I can hear noise of war in the camp. It is not the
sound of men who are shouting for victory, nor is it
the cry of those who are beaten in battle; it is the
voice of singing that I hear."
And in a moment more, as they stood where they could
look down upon the camp, there was standing the golden
calf, and around it were the people making offerings,
and feasting, and dancing and singing.
THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL BOWING BEFORE THE GOLDEN CALF
And Moses was so angry when he saw all the wickedness
and shame of his people, that he threw down the two
tables out of his hands, and broke them in pieces upon
the rocks. What was the use of keeping the tables of
stone, he may have thought, while the people were
breaking the laws written upon them?
Moses came straight into the midst of the throng, and
at once all the dancing and merry-making stopped. He
tore down the golden calf, and broke it in pieces, and
burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and
threw it into the water; and he made the people drink
the water filled with its dust. He meant to teach the
people that they would suffer punishment like bitter
water, for their wicked deed.
Then Moses turned to Aaron:
"What led you to such an act as this?" said Moses. "Why
did you let the people persuade you to make them an
image for worship?"
 And Aaron said, "Do not be angry with me; you know how
the hearts of this people are set to do evil. They came
to me and said, 'make us a god,' and I said to them,
'give me whatever gold you have.' So they gave it to
me, and I threw the gold into the fire, and this calf
Then Moses stood at the entrance to the camp, and
"Whoever is on the Lord's side, let him come and stand
by me!" Then one whole tribe out of the twelve tribes
of Israel, the tribe of Levi, all sprung from Levi, one
of Jacob's sons, came and stood beside Moses. And Moses
said to them:
"Draw your swords, and go through the camp, and kill
every one whom you find bowing down to the idol. Spare
no one. Slay your friends and your neighbors, if they
are worshipping the image."
And on that day three thousand of the worshippers of
the idol were slain by the sons of Levi.
 Then Moses said to the people, "You have sinned a great
sin; but I will go to the Lord, and I will make an
offering to him, and will ask him to forgive your sin."
And Moses went before the Lord, and prayed for the
people, and said:
"Oh Lord, this people have sinned a great sin. Yet,
now, forgive their sin, if thou art willing. And if
thou wilt not forgive their sin, then let me suffer
with them, for they are my people."
And the Lord forgave the sin of the people, and took
them once again for his own, and promised to go with
them, and to lead them into the land which he had
promised to their fathers.
And God said to Moses, "Cut out two tables of stone,
like those which I gave to you, and which you broke;
and bring them up to me in the mountain, and I will
write on them again the words of the law."
So Moses went up a second time into the holy mount; and
there God talked with him again. Moses stayed forty
days on this second meeting with God, as he had stayed
in the mountain forty days before. And all this time,
while God was talking with Moses, the people waited in
the camp; and they did not again set up any idol for
Once more Moses came down the mountain, bringing the
two stone tables, upon which God had written the words
of his law, the Ten Commandments. And Moses had been so
close to God's glory, and had been so long in the blaze
of God's light, that when he came into the camp of
Israel, his face was shining, though he did not know
it. The people could not look on Moses' face, it was so
dazzling. And Moses found that when he talked with the
people, it was needful for him to wear a vail over his
face. When Moses went to talk with God, he took off the
vail; but while he spoke with the people, he kept his
face covered, for it shone as the sun.
MOSES BRINGS THE TABLES OF STONE