View Exodus 32 in the note window.
- The sin of Israel, and Aaron particularly in making the golden
calf, ver. 1 - 4.
and worshipping it, ver. 5, 6.
- The notice which God gave of this to Moses, who was now in the
mount with him, ver. 7, 8.
and the sentence of his wrath against them, ver. 9, 10.
- The intercession which Moses made for them, ver. 11, 12, 13.
and the prevalency of that intercession, ver 14.
- His coming down from the mount, and being an eye witness of their
idolatry, ver. 15 - 19.
in detestation of which he broke the tables, ver. 19.
and burnt the golden calf, ver. 20.
- The examination of Aaron about it, ver. 21 - 24.
- Execution done upon the ringleaders in the idolatry, ver. 25 - 29.
- The further intercession Moses made, to turn away the wrath of
God from them, ver. 30 - 32.
and a reprieve granted thereupon, reserving them for a further
reckoning, ver. 33 - 35.
1: 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
2: And Aaron said break off the golden ear - rings - We do not find
that he said one word to discountenance their proposal. Some suppose, that
when Aaron bid them break off their ear - rings, he did it with design to
crush the proposal, believing that, though their covetousness would have
let them do it, yet their pride would not have suffered them to part with
3: And all the people brake off their ear - rings - Which Aaron
melted down, and, having a mold prepared, poured the melted gold into it,
and then produced it in the shape of an ox or calf, giving it some
finishing strokes with a graving tool.
5: And Aaron built an altar before it, and proclaimed a feast - A
feast of dedication; yet he calls it a feast to Jehovah; for, as brutish
as they were, they did not design to terminate their adoration in the image;
but they made it for a representation of the true God, whom they intended to
worship in and through this image. And yet this did not excuse them from
gross idolatry, no more than it will excuse the Papists, whose plea it is,
that they do not worship the image, but God by the image; so making
themselves just such idolaters as the worshippers of the golden calf, whose
feast was a feast to Jehovah, and proclaimed to be so, that the most
ignorant and unthinking might not mistake it.
6: And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered sacrifice to
this new made deity. And the people sat down to eat and drink of the
remainder of what was sacrificed, and then rose up to play - To play the
fool, to play the wanton. It was strange that any of the people, especially
so great a number of them, should do such a thing. Had they not, but the
other day, in this very place, heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to
them out of the midst of the fire, Thou shalt not make to thyself any
graven image? - Yet They made a calf in Horeb, the very place where
the law was given It was especially strange that Aaron should be so
deeply concerned, should make the calf and proclaim the feast! Is this
Aaron the saint of the Lord! Is this he that had not only seen, but
had been employed in summoning the plagues of Egypt, and the
judgments executed upon the gods of the Egyptians? What! And yet
himself copying out the abandoned idolatries of Egypt? How true is it,
that the law made them priests which had infirmity, and needed first
to offer for their own sins?
8: They have turned aside quickly - Quickly after the law was given
them, and they had promised to obey it; quickly after God had done such
great things for them, and declared his kind intentions to do greater.
9: It is a stiff - necked people - Unapt to come under the yoke of the
divine law, averse to all good, and prone to evil, obstinate to the methods
10: Let me alone - What did Moses, or what could he do, to hinder
God from consuming them? When God resolves to abandon a people, and the
decree is gone forth, no intercession can prevent it. But God would thus
express the greatness of his displeasure, after the manner of men, who would
have none to interceed for those they resolve to be severe with. Thus also
he would put an honour upon prayer, intimating, that nothing but the
intercession of Moses could save them from ruin, that he might be a type
of Christ, by whose mediation alone God would reconcile the world unto
11: And Moses besought the Lord his God - If God would not be called
the God of Israel, yet he hoped he might address him as his own God.
Now Moses is standing in the gap to turn away the wrath of God.(Ps 106:23). He took the hint which God gave him when he said,
Let me alone, which, though it seemed to forbid his interceding, did
really encourage it, by shewing what power the prayer of faith hath with
12: Turn from thy fierce wrath - Not as if he thought God were not
justly angry, but he begs that he would not be so greatly angry as
to consume them. Let mercy rejoice against judgment; repent of this
evil - Change the sentence of destruction into that of correction,
against thy people which thou broughtest up out of Egypt - For whom thou
hast done so great things? Wherefore should the Egyptians say, For
mischief did he bring them out - Israel is dear to Moses, as his
kindred, as his charge; but it is the glory of God that he is most concerned
for. If Israel could perish without any reproach to God's name,
Moses could persuade himself to sit down contented; but he cannot bear
to hear God reflected on; and therefore this he insists upon, Lord, What
will the Egyptians say? They will say, God was either weak, and
could not, or fickle, and would not compleat the salvation he begun.
13: Remember Abraham - Lord, if Israel be cut off, what will
become of the promise?
14: And the Lord repented of the evil he thought to do - Though he
designed to punish them, yet he would not ruin them. See here,
the power of prayer, God suffers himself to be prevailed with by humble
believing importunity. And see the compassion of God towards poor sinners,
and how ready he is to forgive.
15: On both their sides - Some on one table and some on the other, so
that they were folded together like a book, to be deposited in the ark.
16: The writing of God - Very probably the first writing in the
19: He saw the calf, and the dancing, and his anger waxed hot - It is
no breach of the law of meekness to shew our displeasure at wickedness.
Those are angry and sin not, that are angry at sin only. Moses
shewed himself angry, both by breaking the tables, and burning the calf,
that he might by these expressions of a strong passion awaken the people to
a sense of the greatness of their sin. He broke the tables before
their eyes, as it is (De 9:17), that the sight of it might fill
them with confusion when they saw what blessings they had lost. The
greatest sign of God's displeasure against any people is his taking his
law from them.
20: He burnt the calf - Melted it down, and then filed it to dust;
and that the powder to which it was reduced might he taken notice of
throughout the camp, he strawed it upon the water which they all drank
of. That it might appear that an idol is nothing in the world, he
reduced this to atoms, that it might be as near nothing as could be.
21: What did this people unto thee - He takes it for granted that it
must needs be something more than ordinary that prevailed with Aaron to
do such a thing? Did they overcome thee by importunity, and hadst thou so
little resolution as to yield to popular clamour! Did they threaten to
stone thee, and couldest not thou have opposed God's threatenings to theirs?
23: They said, make us Gods - It is natural to us to endeavour thus
to transfer our guilt. He likewise extenuates his own share in the sin, as
if he had only bid them break off their gold, intending but to make a
hasty essay for the present, and childishly insinuates that when he cast
the gold into the fire, it came out either by accident, or by the
magic art of some of the mixt multitude (as the Jewish writers
dream) in this shape. This was all Aaron had to say for himself, and he
had better have said nothing, for his defence did but aggravate his offence;
and yet as sin did abound, grace did much more abound.
25: The people were naked - Stript of their armour, and liable to
26: Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, the place of
judgment; and said, Who is on the Lord's side? - The idolaters had set
up the golden calf for their standard, and now Moses sets up his
in opposition to them.
27: Slay every man his brother - That is, Slay all those that you
know to have been active for the making and worshipping of the golden calf,
though they were your nearest relations or dearest friends. Yet it should
seem they were to slay those only whom they found abroad in the street
of the camp; for it might be hoped that those who were retired into their
tents were ashamed of what they had done.
28: And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men
- Probably these were but few in comparison with the many that were guilty;
but these were the men that headed the rebellion, and were therefore picked
out to be made examples of; for terror to others.
31: Oh, this people have sinned a great sin - God had first told him
of it, (Ex 32:7), and now he tells God of it by way of lamentation.
He doth not call them God's people, he knew they were unworthy to be called
so, but this people. This treacherous ungrateful people, they have
made them gods of gold.
32: If not - If the decree be gone forth, and there is no remedy
but they must be ruined, blot me, I pray thee out of the book which
thou hast written - That is, out of the book of life. If all Israel
must perish, I am content to perish with them. This expression may be
illustrated from (Ro 9:3).
For I could wish myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren's
sake. Does this imply no more than not enjoying Canaan?
Not that Moses absolutely desired this, but only comparatively expresses
his vehement zeal for God's glory, and love to his people, signifying, that
the very thought of their destruction, and the dishonour of God, was so
intolerable to him, that he rather wishes, if it were possible, that God
would accept of him, as a sacrifice in their stead, and by his utter
destruction, prevent so great a mischief.
33: Whosoever hath sinned, him will I blot out of my book - The soul
that sins shall die, and not the innocent for the guilty.
34: My angel shall go before them - Some created angel that was
employed in the common services of his kingdom, which intimated that they
were not to expect any thing for the future to be done for them out of the
common road of providence. When I visit - Hereafter he shall see cause to
punish them for other sins, I will visit for this among the rest. From
hence the Jews have a saying, that from hence - forward no judgment fell
upon Israel, but there was in it an ounce of the powder of the golden
35: And the Lord plagued the people - Probably by the pestilence, or
some other infectious disease. Thus Moses prevailed for a mitigation of
the punishment, but could not wholly turn away the wrath of God.