1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain they as sembled around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us gods to walk ahead of us; as for this Moses who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 And Aaron said to them, “Take the gold earrings from your wives, your sons and daughters and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they gave him and with a graving tool made the gold into a molten calf.
4 They then said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”
5 Now, when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before the molten calf and cried out, “Tomorrow will be a feastday for Yahweh.”
6 So next day they rose early and sacri ficed burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. They then sat down to eat and drink and got up to make merry.
7 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a molten calf; they have bowed down before it and sacrificed to it and said: ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.’”
9 And Yahweh said to Moses, “I see that these people are a stiff-necked peo ple. 10 Now just leave me that my anger may blaze against them. I will destroy them, but of you I will make a great nation.”
11 But Moses calmed the anger of Yah weh, his God, and said, “Why, O Yah weh, should your anger burst against your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Let not the Egyptians say: ‘Yahweh brought them out with evil intent, for he wanted to kill them in the mountains and wipe them from the face of the earth.’ Turn away from the heat of your anger and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants, Abra ham, Isaac and Jacob, and the pro mise you yourself swore: I will mul tiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land I spoke about I will give to them as an everlasting inheritance.”
14 Yahweh then changed his mind and would not yet harm his people. 15 Moses then returned and came down from the mountain carrying in his hand the two slabs of the State ment, slabs written on both sides, back and front. 16 These slabs were the work of God and the writing graven on the slabs was the writing of God.
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people who were shouting he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.” 18 But Moses answered, “It is not a victory song, nor the cry of defeat that I hear, but the sound of singing.”
19 When he drew near to the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burst forth and he threw the slabs from his hands and shattered them against the base of the mountain. 20 Then he seized the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, grinding it into a powder that he scattered over the surface of the water, and this he made the Israelites drink.
21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you brought such a great sin on them?”
22 And Aaron said, “Don’t let your anger be roused. You know this people and how evil they are. 23 They said to me: ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 I then said to them that whoever had gold was to give it over to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf!”
25 Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them run wild, to a point that would make them an easy prey for their opponents.
26 Then Moses stood at the gate of the camp and said, “All those for Yahweh, come to me.” And all the sons of Levi rallied round him.
27 Then he said to them, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel commands: Let each one carry a sword at his side. Go back and forth from door to door and don’t hesitate to kill even your broth ers, your companions and your relatives.”
28 The Levites did what Moses had ordered and that day about three thousand men fell.
29 Moses then said, “From now on your hands are consecrated to Yahweh for each of you has been able to turn against his very sons and brothers. Because of this, Yahweh gives you today his blessing.”
Moses intercedes for the people
30 The next day Moses said to the peo ple, “You have committed a very grave sin, but now I am going up to Yahweh; perhaps I will obtain pardon for your sin.”
31 So Moses went towards Yahweh and said, “Ah! This people has committed a very great sin; they made a god out of gold. 32 And now please forgive their sin… if not, blot me out of the book you have written.”
33 Yahweh said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out from my book. 34 Go now! Lead the people where I told you. My Angel will walk before you and on the day of punishment I will punish them for their sin.” 35 And so Yahweh punished the people with a plague because of the calf Aaron had made for them.