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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Exodus 32:1

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, "Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

Adam Clarke Commentary

When the people saw that Moses delayed - How long this was before the expiration of the forty days, we cannot tell; but it certainly must have been some considerable time, as the ornaments must be collected, and the calf or ox, after having been founded, must require a considerable time to fashion it with the graving tool; and certainly not more than two or three persons could work on it at once. This work therefore, must have required several days.

The people gathered themselves together - They came in a tumultuous and seditious manner, insisting on having an object of religious worship made for them, as they intended under its direction to return to Egypt. See Acts 7:39, Acts 7:40.

As for this Moses, the man that brought us up - This seems to be the language of great contempt, and by it we may see the truth of the character given them by Aaron, Exodus 32:22, they were set on mischief. It is likely they might have supposed that Moses had perished in the fire, which they saw had invested the top of the mountain into which he went.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/exodus-32.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount,.... The time, according to the Targum of Jonathan, being elapsed, which he had fixed for his descent, and through a misreckoning, as Jarchi suggests; they taking the day of his going up to be one of the forty days, at the end of which he was to return, whereas he meant forty complete days; but it is not probable that Moses knew himself how long he should stay, and much less that he acquainted them before hand of it; but he staying longer than they supposed he would, they grew uneasy and impatient, and wanted to set out in their journey to Canaan, and to have some symbol and representation of deity to go before them:

the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron; who with Hur was left to judge them in the absence of Moses: it was very likely that they had had conferences with him before upon this head, but now they got together in a tumultuous manner, and determined to carry their point against all that he should say to the contrary:

and said unto him, up; put us off no longer, make no more delay, but arise at once, and set about what has been once and again advised to and importuned:

make us gods which shall go before us; not that they were so very stupid to think, that anything that could be made with hands was really God, or even could have life and breath, and the power of self-motion, or of walking before them; but that something should be made as a symbol and representation of the divine Being, carried before them; for as for the cloud which had hitherto gone before them, from their coming out of Egypt, that had not moved from its place for forty days or more, and seemed to them to be fixed on the mount, and would not depart from it; and therefore they wanted something in the room of it as a token of the divine Presence with them:

for as for this Moses; of whom they speak with great contempt, though he had been the deliverer of them, and had wrought so many miracles in their favour, and had been the instrument of so much good unto them:

the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt; this they own, but do not seem to be very thankful for it:

we wot not what is become of him; they could scarcely believe that he was alive, that it was possible to live so long a time without eating and drinking; or they supposed he was burnt on the mount of flaming fire from before the Lord, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/exodus-32.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto p> p>
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Aaron, and said unto him, Up, {(a)} 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.

(a) The root of Idolatry is when men think that God is not present, unless they see him physically.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/exodus-32.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Exodus 32:1-35. The Golden Calf.

when the people saw that Moses delayed — They supposed that he had lost his way in the darkness or perished in the fire.

the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron — rather, “against” Aaron in a tumultuous manner, to compel him to do what they wished. The incidents related in this chapter disclose a state of popular sentiment and feeling among the Israelites that stands in singular contrast to the tone of profound and humble reverence they displayed at the giving of the law. Within a space of little more than thirty days, their impressions were dissipated. Although they were still encamped upon ground which they had every reason to regard as holy; although the cloud of glory that capped the summit of Sinai was still before their eyes, affording a visible demonstration of their being in close contact, or rather in the immediate presence, of God, they acted as if they had entirely forgotten the impressive scenes of which they had been so recently the witnesses.

said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us — The Hebrew word rendered “gods” is simply the name of God in its plural form. The image made was single, and therefore it would be imputing to the Israelites a greater sin than they were guilty of, to charge them with renouncing the worship of the true God for idols. The fact is, that they required, like children, to have something to strike their senses, and as the Shekinah, “the glory of God,” of which they had hitherto enjoyed the sight, was now veiled, they wished for some visible material object as the symbol of the divine presence, which should go before them as the pillar of fire had done.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/exodus-32.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This is a most interesting Chapter, but no less distressing to read. We have therein related to us, that God, by his divine foreknowledge, having seen, that in consequence of Moses being with him longer in the Mount than the people below in the camp expected, they fell away to idolatry: the Lord commands Moses to go down to the people: the Lord informs his servant what had taken place during his absence; Moses intercedes for the people: Moses descends from the Mount; arrives at the Camp: beholds the idol of the people: his anger is so great that he casts the Tables of Testimony, which the Lord had given him, out of his hands, and they are broken; the conference between Moses and the people, and Moses returns unto the Lord.

Exodus 32:1

Observe, what unbelief induceth in the heart of man. Believers have too much of this in them. The Lord Jesus is gone up into the heaven of heavens, there to appear in the presence of God for his people; and yet how often do they cry out in doubts and misgivings. Isaiah 40:27; Psalms 13:1-2. And ungodly men are here from led to question the truth of divine promises. 2 Peter 3:4. It was this impious disregard of the divine threatenings which induced the wicked servant, in the parable, to smite his fellow servants. Matthew 24:48.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/exodus-32.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Up, make us gods which shall go before us. They were weary of waiting for the promised land. They thought themselves detained too long at mount Sinai. They had a God that stayed with them, but they must have a God to go before them to the land flowing with milk and honey. They were weary of waiting for the return of Moses: As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of Egypt, we know not what is become of him - Observe how slightly they speak of his person, this Moses: And how suspiciously of his delay, we know not what is become of him. And they were weary of waiting for a divine institution of religious worship among them, so they would have a worship of their own invention, probably such as they had seen among the Egyptians. They say, make us gods which shall go before us. Gods! How many would they have? Is not one sufficient? And what good would gods of their own making do them? They must have such Gods to go before them as could not go themselves farther than they were carried!


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/exodus-32.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1And when the people saw that Moses. In this narrative we perceive the detestable impiety of the people, their worse than base ingratitude, and their monstrous madness, mixed with stupidity. For their sakes Moses had been carried up above the state of terrestrial life, that he might receive the injunctions of his mission, and that his authority might be beyond the reach of controversy. They perversely declare that they know not what has become of him, nay, they speak contemptuously of him as of a person unknown to them. It is for this that Stephen severely blames them, (324) This is that Moses (he says) whom your fathers rejected, though he was the minister of their salvation. (Acts 7:35.) They confess that he had been their deliverer, yet they cannot tolerate his absence for a little time, nor are they affected with any reverence towards him, unless they have him before their eyes. Moreover, (325) although God offered Himself as if present with them by day and by night in the pillar of fire, and in the cloud, they still despised so illustrious and lively an image of His glory and power, and desire to have Him represented to them in the shape of a dead idol. For what could they mean by saying, “make us gods which shall go before us?” Could they not see the pillar of fire and the cloud? Was not God’s paternal solicitude abundantly conspicuous every day in the manna? Was he not near them in ways innumerable

Yet, accounting as nothing all these true, and sure, and manifest tokens of God’s presence, they desire to have a figure which may satisfy their vanity. And this was the original source of idolatry, that men supposed that they could not otherwise possess God, unless by subjecting Him to their own imagination. Nothing, however, can be more preposterous; for since the minds of men and all their senses sink far below the loftiness of God, when they try to bring Him down to the measure of their own weak capacity, they travesty Him. In a word, whatever man’s reason conceives of Him is mere falsehood; and nevertheless, this depraved longing can hardly be repressed, so fiercely does it burst out. They are also influenced by pride and presumption, when they do not hesitate to drag down His glory as it were from heaven, and to subject it to earthly elements. We now understand what motive chiefly impelled the Israelites to this madness in demanding that a figure of God should be set before them, viz., because they measured Him by their own senses. Wonderful indeed was their stupidity, to desire that a God should be made by mortal men, as if he could be a god, or could deserve to be accounted such who obtains his divinity at the caprice of men. Still, it is not probable that they were so absurd as to desire a new god to be created for them; but they call “gods” by metonymy those outward images, by looking at which the superstitious imagine that God is near them. And this is evident from the fact, that not only the noun but the verb also is in the plural number; for although they were satisfied with one God, still they in a manner cut Him to pieces by their various representations of Him. Nevertheless, however they may deceive themselves under this or that pretext, they still desire to be creators of God.

Those who suppose that confusion is implied by the word “delayed,” are, in my opinion, mistaken; for, although the word בשש, boshesh, with its third radical doubled, is derived from בוש, bush, which means to be ashamed, still it is clear from Jude 5:28, that it is used simply for to delay, where it is said, in the address of the mother of Sisera, “Why (326) does his chariot delay (or defer) to come?”

Hence we may understand that hypocrites so fear God as that religion vanishes from their hearts, unless there be some task-master (exactor) standing by them to keep them in the path of duty. They duly obeyed Moses and reverenced his person; but, because they were only influenced by his presence, as soon as they were deprived of it they ceased to fear God. Thus, whilst Joshua was alive, and the other holy Judges, they seemed to be faithful in the exercise of piety, but when they were dead, they straightway relapsed into disobedience.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/exodus-32.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

tables of stone

(See Scofield "Exodus 20:4").


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Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Exodus 32:1". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/exodus-32.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

SUBSTITUTES FOR GOD

‘Gods which shall go before us.’

Exodus 32:1

We see that the Israelites’ residence in Egypt had familiarised them with the idea of symbols for God, so that there was no strangeness in it, but even a certain attraction in the pomp, and circumstance, and excitement, of idolatrous ceremonial.

I. It must be borne in mind that, at the time of their lapse, they had no Tabernacle, and no religious rites, such as were soon after established. They had nothing of external form and interest to satisfy the desire for a sensuous expression of religion. This desire had been previously met, at least, in part, by the shining of the pillar cloud, as the symbol of Divine presence; and the relation in which they stood to Moses, as the earthly representative of the Will. But for weeks the pillar cloud had not been seen in the sky; it was swallowed up in the great cloud about the summit of the Holy Mount; and the man Moses was, to their thought, certainly lost; it was inconceivable that he was alive, after being all those weeks without food. That awful majesty and glory, which had so alarmed the people that they had drawn back from the Mount, must have burned up Moses; and they felt that they were left to all the perils of the unknown wilderness, with no Divine leader and no Divine signs.

II. The suggestion seemed at first innocent enough.—Cannot we make for ourselves a sign to go before us, something that shall indicate we are Jehovah’s people; some symbol that shall be an earthly reminder of our absent God? It seemed innocent, but it was wholly wrong from the first. It was not indeed a sin against the Divine Unity. No hint is given to us of their intention to abandon the service of Jehovah, and substitute another God for Him. But they sinned against the Divine Spirituality; against their second great truth, ‘God is a Spirit, and therefore no material likeness can be made of Him.” Their sin lay in their pretending to worship a visible symbol of Him whom no symbol could represent.

The suggestion to make a molten figure must have come from some one man, but it could have had no influence if the doubt and fear, and the half-formed wish or some material sign, had not been generally in the thought of the people. Such national movements must be in the heart of the people, if the genius, or the forwardness, of some individual is to waken the movement into activity; and this may be illustrated in the cases of Luther and the Reformation, and John Hampden and the refusal to pay ship money.

III. Once started, the thing went altogether further than was at first intended.—A sort of visible marching sign may have been the first thought; but the figure that came forth of the mould seemed at once to inflame the evil passions of the people; they lost all self-control, and gave themselves up to an excitement which easily degenerated into licentiousness and abominations. The evils—moral evils—into which the people fell illustrate the peril of moral deterioration which lies in having any ‘sense-image, or likeness,’ of the spiritual Jehovah. Animal conceptions of God will tend to cultivate the animal passions; and this was found to be true even of the fine Greek conceptions of the Divine, as represented by the perfect body, the ideal human form. Even that animal conception had in it no power to purify or keep pure. There is no possible basis for a pure morality save the full conception of the spirituality of God; and it was this conception which the Golden Calf imperilled.

Illustration

(1) ‘Aaron did not so much initiate the new policy of image making as he sought to control and direct the popular impulse toward idolatry. Like many another leader since, he argued that it was better to retain control of a movement which his conscience could not altogether approve than to break with the people and so lose all power. By so doing, he at once lost character, and, in the end, the popular respect which he valued so highly.’

(2) ‘There are idols of the heart as well as idols of gold and silver and brass and stone.

My work may be my idol. I take pride in it. I do it faithfully and diligently, never scamping it, never fulfilling it remissly. Mine is the eye, like Antonio Stradivari’s, that “winces at false work and loves the true.” And that is well; but there is a better Lord than this.

My home may be my idol. Wife and children and friends, the familiar threshold and the dear fireside—are they not a “happy clime”? John Stuart Mill said wistfully of her who had been the desire of his eyes, “Her memory is to me a religion.” And that also is well; but it is not the best.

My sin may be my idol. So much do I delight in it, that I will not part with its enchantments and pleasures—not now at least, not for a long season yet. Its glamour bewitches me; its whisper of freedom deceives my heart. As Cleopatra led Antony captive, so my besetting sin enslaves me. But from all idols I turn to the one Lord.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/exodus-32.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/exodus-32.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Exodus 32:1

Notice:—

I. The very essence of idolatry is not spiritual ignorance and obtuseness, but a wilful turning away from the spiritual knowledge and worship of God. (1) This act of idolatry was in the very front of the majesty and splendour of Jehovah revealed on Sinai. It was in the very face of the mount that might not be touched and that burned with fire, and the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of words, by which the Lord God of hosts was declaring Himself to the people there. The people saw the glory of God, and while the vision was there, and all its impressions fresh on their hearts, they made themselves a molten calf, and sang, "These, O Israel, be thy gods." (2) With the idol before him, the priest proclaimed a feast unto the Lord; and the people pleased themselves with the thought that they were "fearing the Lord, while they served their own gods." The real heart of idolatry is here laid bare. It is, in plain terms, an effort to bring God within reach, to escape the trouble, pain, and weariness of spiritual effort, and substitute the effort of the eye, hand and tongue for the labour of the soul. (3) In God's sight, that is, in reality, this is a turning away from Him. They meant this bull to be an image of God their Leader. God saw that it was an image of their own idolatrous and sensual hearts.

II. The contrast between the prophet and the priest. Priests have in all ages been the willing ministers of idolatry; as an order they have rarely lifted up their voice against it unless inspired by the prophets of truth. The prophet becomes the censor of the priesthood; while the priesthood marks the prophet as a man to be silenced and, if possible, put down. The perfect Mediator is both Priest and Prophet. He reveals God to man in conducting man to God. The Christian priesthood partakes of this double character.

III. The central principle of idolatry is the shrinking of the spirit from the invisible God. It is the glory of the Incarnation that it presents that image of the invisible God which is not an idol, that it gives into the arms of the yearning spirit a Man, a Brother, and declares that Jesus Christ is the God of heaven.

J. Baldwin Brown, The Soul's Exodus and Pilgrimage, p. 178.


References: Exodus 32:1.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 28. Exodus 32:7.—G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 12.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/exodus-32.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Exodus 32:1. And when the people saw that Moses The long delay of Moses in the mount led this ever-murmuring and incredulous generation to think that he had utterly forsaken them; that an attempt to go forward into Canaan would, therefore, be absurd; and that it would be better to follow their groveling inclination, and return into Egypt. That this was their intention, we collect from Acts 7:39-40 where St. Stephen says, that in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt; saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for as for this Moses, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him: see Numbers 14:4. The expression, this Moses, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, plainly intimates their design. It appears, from the whole account of this transaction, that the defection was very general. The sons of Levi, Exodus 32:26 appear to have preserved themselves from it, as, most probably, did many others; see 1 Corinthians 10:7 nevertheless, both from Acts 7 and this chapter, it is clear that the major part were guilty. It is not to be supposed that the people were so stupid, as to believe that Aaron could absolutely form for them such gods as were really invested with Divine power: their meaning, it is evident, could only be, that he should form such a visible image and representation of the Deity, as might always be present with them; as the cloud, the visible emblem of JEHOVAH, had hitherto been with them under the ministration of Moses; but which now, they conceived, Moses disappearing, would cease itself to appear. The word rendered gods in this verse is אלהים elohim; and must certainly mean, "make us a representative of that Divine Power, who may go before us as our Conductor, in the manner that the visible emblem of Jehovah has hitherto gone before us."

REFLECTIONS.—When Moses is now ready to descend from the Mount, the perverseness and impatience of the people destroy all the blessings which were designed for them. They had before been often distrustful and disobedient, but now they break out into open rebellion. They riotously assemble, and present a petition to Aaron, to make them gods to go before them. Two grievous sins are the consequences of this proceeding.

1. Impious idolatry against God. They were not satisfied with the repeated evidences he had given them of his presence in the midst of them. Note; Where the heart is not truly converted to God, though for a time partial reformations may deceive, the old sins will again break out, and the dog return to his vomit.

2. Base ingratitude to Moses. He had been long their governor; they were most highly indebted to him. He was now gone expressly on their affairs. As he had God's call to go, they had sufficient reason to expect his return; but should he not return, they were at least bound to treat him with respect and regard. But they overlook every consideration, and, with a careless mention of their great Deliverer, insinuate, that he has forsaken them, and never intends to return. Note; (1.) The best of men, and the greatest ministers, may expect to meet with most ungrateful returns from many whom they have served. (2.) They who are inclined to think evil will pretend, in the clearest case, not to know what to think. (3.) Forgetfulness, and doubt of the return of Jesus from the Mount of glory, is the great means of hardening the sinner; while it is among the sorest temptations of the true believer, that in times of greatest difficulty our Lord seems to delay his coming: but if he tarry, let us wait for him.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/exodus-32.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

EXODUS CHAPTER 32

The people commit idolatry by worshipping the molten image which Aaron made, Exodus 32:1-6. God makes it known to Moses, and threatens their destruction, Exo 32 7-10. Moses prays for them, Exo 32 11-13. God repents of the evil, Exo 32 14. Moses comes down from the mount with two tables, Exo 32 15; being God’s own writing, Exo 32 16. Moses hearing and seeing their idolatry, breaks the two tables, Exodus 32:19; and turns the calf into powder, Exodus 32:20. Aaron’s excuse, Exodus 32:21-24. Moses seeing their nakedness, Exodus 32:25, commands them to be slain, Exodus 32:26,27. He bids them consecrate themselves, Exodus 32:29. Moses charging them with sin, Exodus 32:30, prayeth for them, Exodus 32:31,32. God spareth them, Exodus 32:34; but afterward plagueth them, Exodus 32:35.

BC 1491

Moses had now been in the mount for near forty days.

The people, i.e. most or some of the people, as it is expressed 1 Corinthians 10:7.

Unto Aaron, as the chief person in Moses’s absence.

Make us gods, i.e. images or representations of God, whom, after the manner of idolaters, they call by God’s name. For it is ridiculous to think that the body of the Israelites, who were now lately instructed by the mouth, and words, and miraculous works of the eternal God, should be so senseless as to think that was the true God which themselves made, and that out of their own earrings; much more, that that was the God that brought them out of Egypt, as they say, Exodus 32:4.

Which shall go before us, to guide us through this vast wilderness to the Land of Promise, where they longed to be; for as for the cloud, which hitherto had guided them, that seemed now to be fixed upon the mount; and they thought both that Joshua and Moses had deserted them. The Jewish doctors note, that he doth not say, Make us gods whom we may worship, but which shall go before us, which, as they truly say, shows that they wanted not a God, whom they knew by infallible evidences they had, but a visible guide, who might supply the want of Moses, as the next words show.

This Moses; an expression of contempt towards their great deliverer.

What is become of him, whether he be not consumed by the fire in the cloud, or taken up to heaven, or conveyed away by God to some other place.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/exodus-32.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

WORSHIP OF THE GOLDEN CALF, Exodus 32:1-6.

1. Moses delayed to come down — Literally, shamed to come down, that is, put to shame those who were waiting for him. This delay was provided for and suggested in Moses’s charge to the elders, (Exodus 24:14,) but Israel’s faith was not sufficient for the test. Up,

make us gods — The language suggests the excitement and persistency of a mob. Probably a better translation would be, Up, make us a god. The manner in which Aaron complied with their demand shows that the people desired a visible image of God. The religious nature of man, uneducated into a high spiritual conception of God, has always clamoured for some visible sign or representation of the Deity.

This Moses, the man that brought us — This manner of speech implies not only impatience, but also a measure of indignation.

We wot not — We know not. Not improbably they began to think that Moses had perished in the fires which they had seen on the top of the mountain, (Exodus 24:17.)

[image]


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/exodus-32.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Exodus 32:1. The people — That is, some of them, as it is explained 1 Corinthians 10:7. The defection, however, appears to have been very general, though we find several, particularly the sons of Levi, exempt from it, Exodus 32:26. Saw that Moses delayed — He had now been absent from them near forty days. For this defection appears to have happened a day or two before he came down from the mount, Deuteronomy 9:11-12. Gathered themselves together unto Aaron — Or, as the Hebrew is more properly rendered, against Aaron: and so the expression will denote that they came upon him in a tumultuous manner, insisting to have their demands complied with. Up, make us gods — No doubt other discourse had passed before this; to which Aaron making some difficulty to consent, they insisted on having their desire gratified, and said in a seditious manner, Up, without further delay, make us gods, or make us a god, as אלהים Elohim is generally rendered, and ought to be rendered here, as Le Clerc observes, and that for two plain reasons: 1st, Aaron made but one calf, one idol-god; 2d, It appears from Exodus 32:5 that this symbol was consecrated to Jehovah alone. They were weary of waiting for the promised land. They thought themselves detained too long at mount Sinai. They had a God that stayed with them, but they must have a God to go before them to the land flowing with milk and honey. They were weary of waiting for the return of Moses: As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of Egypt, we know not what is become of him — Observe, How slightly they speak of his person, this Moses: and how suspiciously of his delay, we know not what is become of him. And they were weary of waiting for a divine institution of religious worship among them, so they would have a worship of their own invention, probably such as they had seen among the Egyptians. They say, make us gods, or, a god. But what good would a god of their own making do them? They must have such a god to go before them, such as could not go itself farther than it was carried!


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/exodus-32.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Delayed. They waited perhaps about a month, with some patience; and then, becoming seditious, assembled against Aaron, and extorted from him a compliance with their impious request. He was thus guilty of a grievous crime, though the violence might extenuate it in some degree. (Salien.) --- He was not yet ordained high priest, chap. xl. 12. (Haydock) --- Gods. Aaron gratified their request by the golden calf. They had the pillar to conduct them, but they wanted something new. The speak with contempt of Moses. (Menochius)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/exodus-32.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

delayed = put them to shame by his not coming down. Compare Psalms 44:7; Psalms 53:5; Psalms 119:3.

out of = from.

make us gods. The great sin of to-day (1 Corinthians 10:7, 1 Corinthians 10:11). Made now not of materials; but made by imagination; and worshipped by the senses.

man. Hebrew. "ish, App-14.

wot not = know not.

all = the greater part. Figure of speech Synecdoche (of Genus), App-6.

them. The Ellipsis (App-6) should be supplied by the word "it ": i.e. the gold (Exodus 32:3).


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/exodus-32.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

When the people saw that Moses delayed , [ buwsh (Hebrew #954), to be ashamed or disappointed;-Piel, to shame or disappoint a person waiting (Judges 3:25), and hence, to delay.] They supposed, as some Jewish writers allege, that he had lost his way in the darkness, or perished in the flames of Sinai.

The people gathered themselves together unto Aaron , [ `al (Hebrew #5921) 'Ah


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/exodus-32.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XXXII.

THE IDOLATRY OF THE GOLDEN CALF.

(1) When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down.—After seven chapters of directions, which belong to the Mosaic or Levitical Law, the writer here resumes his historical narrative. Leaving Moses still in the mount, he returns to the plain at its base in order to relate the events which had there occurred during Moses’ absence. It has been suggested that Exodus 31 was originally followed by Exodus 35, and that Exodus 32-34 form a “distinct composition,” which was subsequently inserted at this point (Cook). But this supposition is improbable. Exodus 35 does not cohere with Exodus 31. Passing from one to other, we should be sensible of a gap which required filling up. Neither does Exodus 32 commence like an independent narrative. It rests on the fact of the long delay of Moses in Sinai, which requires Exodus 25-31 to explain it; and its mention of “the people,” and “the mount,” without further designation, implies reference to something that has gone before. Exodus 32-34 occur really in their natural, their proper, and, no doubt, in their original place.

The people gathered themselves together unto Aaron.—Moses, before his departure, had left directions that the people should in any difficulty take the advice of Aaron and Hur (Exodus 24:14). It is not surprising, however, that, when the difficulty arose, Aaron alone was consulted. Aaron had been jointleader with Moses from the first (see Exodus 4:29-30; Exodus 5:1; Exodus 5:4; Exodus 5:20, &c.); Hur had only very recently been advanced into a position of authority (Exodus 17:10; Exodus 24:14). He was, at the most, the Lepidus of the Triumvirate.

Up, make us gods.—Rather, make us a god. The religious condition of the Israelites during the sojourn in Egypt has been so entirely passed over in the previous narrative, that this request comes upon us as a surprise and a shock. True, there have been warnings against idolatry, reiterated warnings (Exodus 20:4-5; Exodus 20:23; Exodus 23:32-33), but no tendency towards it has manifested itself, no hint has been given that it was an immediate and pressing danger. When, however, we carefully scrutinise the rest of Scripture, we find reason to believe that a leaning towards idolatry had, in point of fact, shown itself among the people while they were in Egypt, and had even attained some considerable development. (See Leviticus 17:7; Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 23:3.) This tendency had been checked by the series of extraordinary manifestations which had accompanied the exodus. Now, however, in the absence of Moses, in the uncertainty which prevailed as to whether he still lived or not, and in the withdrawal from the camp of that Divine Presence which had hitherto gone before them, the idolatrous instinct once more came to the front. The cry was raised, “make us a god”—make us something to take the place of the pillar of the cloud, something visible, tangible, on which we can believe the Divine Presence to rest, and which may “go before us” and conduct us.

This Moses, the man that brought us up . . . —Contemptuous words, showing how short-lived is human gratitude, and even human respect. An absence of less than six weeks, and a belief that he was no more, had sufficed to change the great deliverer into “this Moses, the man who brought us up.”


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/exodus-32.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
A. M. 2513. B.C. 1491. An. Ex. Is. 1. Ab. delayed
24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9; Matthew 24:43; 2 Peter 3:4
Up
Genesis 19:14; 44:4; Joshua 7:13
make
20:3-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-18; Acts 7:40; 17:29; 19:26
which shall
13:21; 33:3,14,15
the man
7,11; 14:11; 16:3; Hosea 12:13; Micah 6:4
we wot
Genesis 21:26; 39:8; 44:15; Matthew 24:48; 2 Peter 3:4

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Exodus 32:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/exodus-32.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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