1 The people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain. They gathered around Aaron. They said to him: »We do not know what has happened to Moses, the man who led us out of Egypt. Make gods to lead us.«
2 Aaron replied: »Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing. Bring them to me.«
3 The people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron.
4 After he worked on the gold with a tool, he made it into a statue of a calf. Then they said: »Israel, this is your god, who brought you out of Egypt.«
5 Aaron built an altar in front of it when he saw what happened. Then he announced: »Tomorrow there will be a festival in Jehovahs honor.«
6 Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. After that they sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy.
7 Jehovah said to Moses: »Go down there. Your people whom you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
8 »They have already turned from the way I commanded them to live. They made a statue of a calf for themselves. They have bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it. They said: »Israel, here is your god who brought you out of Egypt.«
9 Jehovah added: »I have seen these people. They have an iron sinew stiff necked peopleare impossible to deal with.
10 »Now let me alone. Let my anger burn against them. I am so angry with them I am going to destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.«
11 »But Moses pleaded with Jehovah his God. »Jehovah,« he said, »why are you so angry with your people? These are your people whom you brought out of Egypt using your great power and mighty hand!
12 »Do not let the Egyptians say: He was planning all along to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth. That is why he brought them out of our land. Do not be so angry. Reconsider your decision to bring this disaster on your people.
13 »Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You took an oath, swearing on yourself. You told them: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. I will give to your descendants all the land I spoke of. It will be their long lasting possession.«
14 So Jehovah changed his mind and did not bring disaster on his people as he threatened.
15 Moses went back down the mountain. He carried the two stone tablets with the commandments written on both sides.
16 God made the tablets and engraved the commandments on them.
17 Joshua heard the people shouting and said to Moses: »I hear the sound of war in the camp.«
18 Moses replied: »That does not sound like a shout of victory or a cry of defeat; it is the sound of singing.«
19 Moses came close enough to the camp at the foot of the mountain to see the bull-calf and to see the people dancing. He became furious! He threw down the tablets he was carrying and broke them.
20 He took the bull-calf that they had made, melted it, ground it into fine powder, and mixed it with water. Then he made the people of Israel drink it.
21 Moses asked Aaron: »What did these people do to harm you? Why did you make them sin in this terrible way?«
22 Aaron said, »Do not be angry with me. You know the people as well as I do. They are determined to do evil.
23 »They said to me: That man Moses led us out of Egypt, but now we do not know what has happened to him. Make us a god to lead us.«
24 »Then I asked them to bring me their gold earrings. They took them off and gave them to me. I threw the gold into a fire, and out came this bull.«
25 Moses saw that the people were naked. Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies.
26 Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said: »Who is on Jehovahs side? Come to me. All the sons of Levi came to him.«
27 He said to them, »Jehovah, the God of Israel says: Each man put his sword by his side. Go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp. Kill each one his brother, and each one his neighbor, and each one his kindred.«
28 The sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. About three thousand men died that day.
29 Moses said: »Today you are ordained as Jehovahs. God gave you a blessing today. Each of you fought with your own sons and brothers.«
30 The next day Moses said to the people: »You have committed a serious sin. Now I will go up the mountain to Jehovah. Maybe I will be able to make a payment for your sin and make atonement with Jehovah for your sin.«
31 So Moses went back to Jehovah and said: »These people have committed such a serious sin! They made a god out of gold for themselves.
32 »Will you forgive their sin? If not, please wipe me out of the book you have written.«
33 Jehovah answered Moses: »I will wipe out of my book whoever sins against me.
34 »Now, go and lead the people to the place I told you about. My angel will go ahead of you. But on the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.«
35 Jehovah killed people because they had Aaron make the calf.