How the Israelites Worshiped a Calf of Gold

God told Moses to come back up on the mountain. There he gave Moses many more laws. He told him how to make a building to worship in. This building could be taken down and moved and was called the tabernacle. He told Moses how to make clothes for the priests. Moses was with God on the mountain for 40 days. But the people got tired of waiting for Moses. They forgot what God had told them and so they said to Aaron, "We do not know what has happened to Moses; so make us a god to lead us." Then Aaron asked them for their gold earrings. He took the earrings, melted them down, and shaped a calf out of the gold. When the people saw it, they said, "Israelites, this is our god, who led us out of Egypt." Then Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and said, "Tomorrow we will have a feast to honor Jehovah." Of course, this calf made out of gold was not really Jehovah God. The next day the people offered animals as sacrifices to worship the calf. Next they sat down to eat and drink and then got up to have fun.

On the mountain, God told Moses, "Get away from here. The people are worshiping a calf made out of gold. I am angry and am going to destroy them. Then I will make your children grow into a great nation." But Moses begged God not to destroy the Israelite people. When God said that he wouldn't, Moses went back down the mountain. He carried two tablets made out of stone on which God had written the Ten Commandments.

As he got close to the bottom his servant Joshua said to him, "I hear the sound of war in the camp." However, Moses answered, that is not the sound of winning or losing a battle it's the sound of singing that I hear." When Moses came close enough to see the calf of Gold and the people dancing, he became very angry. There at the bottom of the mountain he threw down the two tablets of stone and broke them. Then he went into the camp, took the calf of gold, and melted it in fire. He ground it into powder, mixed it in the water, and made the people drink it.

Then Moses said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you should make them sin like this?" Aaron answered, "When they said, make us a god to lead us, I asked for their gold earrings. When I threw them in the fire, out came this calf of gold."

Now Moses saw that the people were running wild, and so he called out, "Who is on God's side?" Come over here." Then the men from the tribe of Levi gathered around him. So he told them, "God commands all of you to take your swords and kill the people who are sinning, even if they are your brothers or friends or neighbors." So the Levite men did what he said, and they killed 3,000 Israelites that day. Then Moses told them, "Today you have become priests of God by killing your relatives."

The next day Moses told the people, "You have done a very bad sin. But I will ask God to forgive you." Then Moses went up the mountain and asked God, "Please forgive their sin; but if you won't, then mark my name out of your book that tells who will be saved." God answered, "It is the people who have sinned whose names will be marked out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. But I will not go with you myself." When Moses told this to the people, he said, "Take off your jewelry." So the people no longer wore jewelry. Then Moses asked God, "Please go with us." And God answered, "I will do what you ask, because I am pleased with you." Then God told Moses to cut two stone tablets like those he had broken and come back up the mountain again. So Moses did what God said, and God wrote the Ten Commandments on these stones also. Moses was again gone for forty days, but this time the people did not sin. But when Moses came down, they ran away from him, because his face was shining like a light, since he had been with God. He called them back and put a veil over his face and told them God's commands, so whenever he would go to talk with God, he would take the veil off. And whenever he would talk to the people, he would put the veil on. But after a while his face quit shining.

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