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Exodus 32 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

The Golden Calf

32 The people saw that a long time had passed and Moses had not come down from the mountain. So they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “Look, Moses led us out of the land of Egypt, but we don’t know what has happened to him. So make us some gods to go before us and lead us.”

Aaron said to the people, “Bring me the gold earrings that belong to your wives, sons, and daughters.”

So the people collected all their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from the people and used it to make an idol. Using a special tool, he shaped the gold into a statue of a calf.

Then the people said, “Israel, here are your gods! These are the gods that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”[a]

Aaron saw all these things, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron made an announcement. He said, “Tomorrow will be a special festival to honor the Lord.”

The people woke up very early the next morning. They killed animals and offered them as burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. They sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up and had a wild party.

At the same time, the Lord said to Moses, “Go down from this mountain. Your people, the people you brought out of the land of Egypt, have committed a terrible sin. They have very quickly turned away from what I commanded them to do. They made a calf from melted gold for themselves. They are worshiping that calf and making sacrifices to it. The people have said, ‘Israel, these are the gods that led you out of Egypt.’”

The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and I know that they are very stubborn. They will always turn against me. 10 So now let me destroy them in anger. Then I will make a great nation from you.”

11 But Moses begged the Lord his God, “Lord, don’t let your anger destroy your people. You brought them out of Egypt with your great power and strength. 12 But if you destroy your people, the Egyptians will say, ‘God planned to do bad things to his people. That is why he led them out of Egypt. He wanted to kill them in the mountains. He wanted to wipe them off the earth.’ So don’t be angry with your people. Please change your mind! Don’t destroy them. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. These men served you, and you used your name to make a promise to them. You said, ‘I will make your people as many as the stars in the sky. I will give your people all this land as I promised. This land will be theirs forever.’”

14 So the Lord felt sorry for the people. He did not do what he said he might do—he did not destroy them.

15 Then Moses went down the mountain. He had the two stone tablets with the agreement on them. The commandments were written on both sides of the stone, front and back. 16 God himself made the stones, and God himself wrote the commandments on them.

17 Joshua heard the noise from the party in camp. He said to Moses, “It sounds like war down in the camp!”

18 Moses answered, “It is not the noise of an army shouting for victory. And it is not the noise of an army crying from defeat. The noise I hear is the sound of music.[b]

19 When Moses came near the camp, he saw the golden calf and the people dancing. He became very angry, and he threw the stone tablets on the ground. The stones broke into several pieces at the bottom of the mountain. 20 Then Moses destroyed the calf that the people had made. He melted it in the fire. Then he ground the gold until it became dust and threw it into the water. Then he forced the Israelites to drink that water.

21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you that would make you do this? Why did you lead them to do such a terrible sin?”

22 Aaron answered, “Don’t be angry, sir. You know that these people are always ready to do wrong. 23 The people said to me, ‘Moses led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know what has happened to him. So make us some gods to lead us.’ 24 So I told the people, ‘If you have any gold rings, then give them to me.’ The people gave me their gold. I threw the gold into the fire, and out of the fire came this calf!”

25 Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get out of control. They were being wild, and all their enemies could see them acting like fools. 26 So Moses stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Anyone who wants to follow the Lord should come to me.” Everyone from the tribe of Levi ran to Moses.

27 Then Moses said to them, “I will tell you what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Every man must get his sword and go from one end of the camp to the other. You men must kill those who are against the Lord, even if they are your brothers, friends, or neighbors.’”

28 The people from the tribe of Levi obeyed Moses. That day about 3000 of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “Take your role today as special servants of the Lord because you were willing to fight against even your own sons and brothers. You will receive a blessing for this.”[c]

30 The next morning Moses told the people, “You have committed a terrible sin! But now I will go up to the Lord, and maybe I can do something so that he will forgive you for your sin.” 31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Please listen! These people committed a terrible sin and made a god from gold. 32 Now, forgive them of this sin. If you will not forgive them, then erase my name from your book.[d]

33 But the Lord said to Moses, “The only people I erase from my book are those who sin against me. 34 So now, go down and lead the people where I tell you to go. My angel will go before you and lead you. When the time comes to punish those who sinned, they will be punished.” 35 So the Lord caused a terrible sickness to come to the people. He did this because they told Aaron to make the golden calf.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 32:4 Israel … Egypt This shows that the people worshiped the calf as a special symbol for the Lord, and even this was forbidden. See 1 Kings 12:26-30.
  2. Exodus 32:18 music Or “singing.”
  3. Exodus 32:29 Take your role … blessing for this This seems to be the point when the priesthood changed. Before this time, the priests came from the firstborn sons; after this time, they came from the sons of Aaron of the tribe of Levi.
  4. Exodus 32:32 your book The book of life, in which God has written the names of his chosen people. See Rev. 3:5; 21:27.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

Exodus 32 New International Version (NIV)

The Golden Calf

32 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] 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.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He 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,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, 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. 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.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now 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.”

11 But Moses sought the favor 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? 12 Why 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. 13 Remember 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 forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses 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. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

18 Moses replied:

“It is not the sound of victory,
    it is not the sound of defeat;
    it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

19 When 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. 20 And 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.

21 He 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. 23 They 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.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So 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.

27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then 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.”

30 The 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.”

31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now 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.”

35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 32:1 Or a god; also in verses 23 and 31
  2. Exodus 32:4 Or This is your god; also in verse 8
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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