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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Exodus 32

 

 

Verse 1

Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Ver. 1. Up, make us gods.] Aaron might make a calf, but the people made it a god, by adoring it.

“Qui fingit sacros auro vel marmore vultus,

Non facit ille Deos; qui rogat, iste facit.” - Martial.


Verse 2

Exodus 32:2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me.

Ver. "2. Brake off the golden ear-rings.] Hereby he hoped to break their design; but all in vain for they were "mad upon their idols." [Jeremiah 50:38]


Verse 3

Exodus 32:3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron.

Ver. 3. Brake off the golden ear-rings.] Which they had got of the Egyptians. [Exodus 12:35] To make use of heathen authors for ostentation, is to make a calf of the treasure gotten out of Egypt.


Verse 4

Exodus 32:4 And he received [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 4. A molten calf.] In imitation of the Egyptian idol Apis, a pied-bull. A man may pass through Ethiopia unchanged; but he cannot dwell there, and not be discoloured. How oft, alas, have we abused God’s mercy; taking his jewels, and making a golden calf of them!


Verse 5

Exodus 32:5 And when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow [is] a feast to the LORD.

Ver. 5. A feast to Jehovah.] Whom these idolators pretended to worship in the golden calf; as did also Jehu, [2 Kings 10:16; 2 Kings 10:29 2 Chronicles 11:15] and as the Papists at this day. But with what face can some of their Rabbis excuse this people from idolatry? or the Jesuits their image worshippers?


Verse 6

Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Ver. 6. Rose up to play.] To dance about the calf. Now, if they were so cheered and strengthened by those baneful bits, those murdering morsels; should not we much more by God’s spiritual provisions, to dance as David did, to do his work with all our might


Verse 7

Exodus 32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted [themselves]:

Ver. 7. For thy people, which thou broughtest.] God will own them no longer; they are now discovenanted. The saints by gross sins may lose their ius aptitudinale, non ius haereditarium, their fitness for God’s kingdom; they may sin away all their comfortables.


Verse 8

Exodus 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 8. They have turned aside quickly.] Moses’s back was but newly turned, as it were. "I marvel that you are so soon removed," &c. [Galatians 1:6] {See Trapp on "Galatians 1:6"} When we have spent all our wind on our people, their hearts will be still apt to be "carried away with every wind of doctrine," - in our absence especially.

“Mures, fele absente, choreas ducunt.” - Suidas.


Verse 9

Exodus 32:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it [is] a stiffnecked people:

Ver. 9. A stiffnecked people.] And so they are still to this very day. Jerome (a) complains that in his time they thrice a day curse (a) Christ in their synagogue, and closed up their prayers with Maledic, Domine, Nazaraeis. They are thought to advise most of that mischief which the Turk puts in execution against Christians. They counterfeit Christianity in Portugal even to the degree of priesthood, and think they may do it, either for the avoiding of danger, or increasing their substance. There are very few of them that turn Christians in good earnest: Adeo in cordibus eorum radices fixit pertinacitas. (b) So stubborn they are to this day, and stiffnecked, their necks are wholly possessed with an iron sinew.


Verse 10

Exodus 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Ver. 10. Let me alone.] God is fain to bespeak his own freedom: as if Moses’s devotion were stronger than God’s indignation. Great is the power of prayer; able, after a sort, to transfuse a dead palsy into the hand of Omnipotency. For, Let me alone, the Chaldee hath, Leave off thy prayer: but Moses would not. If he get but his head above water, the Lord shall hear of David. [Psalms 69:1-3]


Verse 11

Exodus 32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

Ver. 11. Lord, why doth thy wrath.] God offered Moses a great fortune. [Exodus 32:10] He tendering God’s glory refused, and makes request for the people. It is the ingenuity of saints to study God’s ends more than their own, and drown all self-respects in his glory. Good servants, such as were Bacon and Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth should consult their master’s praise, rather than their own profit. "Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant." [Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5]


Verse 12

Exodus 32:12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

Ver. 12. Repent of this evil.] God’s repenting is mutatio rei, non Dei; effectus, non affectus; facti, non consilii; not a change of his will, but of his work.


Verse 13

Exodus 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit [it] for ever.

Ver. 13. Remember Abraham.] Here Moses neither invocateth the patriarchs, nor allegeth their merits, but reminds God of his promise to them, and presseth the performance. In the want of other rhetoric, let Christians in their prayers urge this with repetition. Lord, thou hast promised, thou hast promised. Put the promises into suit, and you have anything. God cannot deny himself.


Verse 14

Exodus 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Ver. 14. And the Lord repented.] See Exodus 32:12. Moses here had a hard pull, but he carried it.


Verse 15

Exodus 32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony [were] in his hand: the tables [were] written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other [were] they written.

Ver. 15. Written on both their sides.] See the like in other mystical books. [Ezekiel 2:10 Revelation 5:1]


Verse 16

Exodus 32:16 And the tables [were] the work of God, and the writing [was] the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Ver. 16. The work of God.] The greater was the people’s loss, brought upon them by their sin.


Verse 17

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, [There is] a noise of war in the camp.

Ver. 17. And when Joshua.] Who had waited, in some part of the mount, the return of his master.


Verse 18

Exodus 32:18 And he said, [It is] not the voice of [them that] shout for mastery, neither [is it] the voice of [them that] cry for being overcome: [but] the noise of [them that] sing do I hear.

Ver. 18. It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery.] As Joshua, a man of a warlike spirit, was ready to imagine. Non est vox clamoris fortitudinis, vel clamandi fortitudinem: so the original hath it.


Verse 19

Exodus 32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Ver. 19. And Moses’s anger waxed hot.] Meekness in this case had been no better than mopishness. How blessedly blown up was Moses here! So, Cranmer the martyr, though in his own cause so meek and mild, that it was grown to a proverb, "Do my Lord of Canterbury a shrewd turn, and you shall be sure to have him your friend for ever after," yet in the truth’s cause, opposed by any man, no general in battle ever showed greater courage and constancy than he, saith our Churchantiquary. (a)

He saw the calf, and the dancing.] One calf about another. It was a custom among Papists, that men should run to the image of St Virus, and there they should dance all day, usque ad animae deliquium, till they fainted and fell into a swoon. (b)


Verse 20

Exodus 32:20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt [it] in the fire, and ground [it] to powder, and strawed [it] upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink [of it].

Ver. 20. And he took the calf.] We may all wish still as Ferus did, that we had some Moses to take away the evils of our times: Nam non unum tantum vitulum, sed multos habemus, We have not one, but many such calves.


Verse 21

Exodus 32:21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

Ver. 21. What did this people unto thee?] The people sinned by precipitancy; Aaron by popularity.


Verse 22

Exodus 32:22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they [are set] on mischief.

Ver. 22. That they are set on mischief.] The whole world is so. [1 John 2:16; 1 John 5:19] Quomodo Plautus, "In fermento toto iacet uxor."


Verse 23

Exodus 32:23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Ver. 23. We wot not what, &c.] See the danger of nonresidency.


Verse 24

Exodus 32:24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break [it] off. So they gave [it] me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

Ver. 24. There came out this calf.] A very poor excuse. Something he would have said, if he had known what. Here he "hid his sin as Adam," [Job 31:33] being too much his child.


Verse 25

Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people [were] naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto [their] shame among their enemies:)

Ver. 25. Aaron had made them naked.] As Aaron’s engraving instrument writes down his sin: so the confession of other more ingenuous Jews proclaims the Israelites, saying that, No punishment befalleth thee, O Israel, in which there is not an ounce of this calf. (a)


Verse 26

Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who [is] on the LORD’S side? [let him come] unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Ver. 26. Let him come.] This word through haste and earnestness Moses omitteth. The Chaldee and Greek version supply it.


Verse 27

Exodus 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, [and] go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

Ver. 27. Slay every man his brother.] Not all that they met with, for so they might have slain the innocent; but all that were chief in the transgression. In the war against the Waldenses in France, the Pope’s great army took one populous city and put to the sword sixty thousand, among whom were many of their own Catholics. For Arnoldus the Cistercian Abbot, being the Pope’s Legate in this great war, commanded the soldiers saying, Caedite eos: novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius: Kill them one with another: for the Lord knoweth who are his. (a) This was fine Popish justice.


Verse 28

Exodus 32:28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

Ver. 28. About three thousand.] Chieftains and ringleaders.


Verse 29

Exodus 32:29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

Ver. 29. Consecrate yourselves.] Regain that blessing which your father Levi lost. [Genesis 49:5; Genesis 49:7]


Verse 30

Exodus 32:30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

Ver. 30. And now I will go up unto the Lord.] As angry as he was, he could pray for them: as when our children, through their own fault have got some sickness, for all our angry speeches we go to the physician for them.


Verse 31

Exodus 32:31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

Ver. 31. Made them gods of gold.] Sin must not be confessed in the lump only, and by wholesale, but we must instance the particulars.


Verse 32

Exodus 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin - ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

Ver. 32. Blot me, I pray thee.] God never revealed his love to Moses more than when he thus earnestly prayed for God’s people. Joab never pleased David better than when he made intercession for Absalom.


Verse 33

Exodus 32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

Ver. 33. Blot out.] Cut him out of the roll of the living.


Verse 34

Exodus 32:34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto [the place] of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

Ver. 34. I will visit.] I will pay them home for the new and the old.


Verse 35

Exodus 32:35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

Ver. 35. They made.] {See Trapp on "Exodus 32:1"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/exodus-32.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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