Exodus 32:1-35, NLT
The Gold Calf
1When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”
2So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.”
3All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron.
5Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!”
6The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.
7The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
9Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.
11But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand?
14So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
15Then Moses turned and went down the mountain. He held in his hands the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.*32:15 Hebrew the two tablets of the Testimony; see note on 25:16. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.
17When Joshua heard the boisterous noise of the people shouting below them, he exclaimed to Moses, “It sounds like war in the camp!”
18But Moses replied, “No, it’s not a shout of victory nor the wailing of defeat. I hear the sound of a celebration.”
19When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing, and he burned with anger. He threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain.
21Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?”
22“Don’t get so upset, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know how evil these people are.
25Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.*32:25 Or out of control, and they mocked anyone who opposed them. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
27Moses told them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone—even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.”
29Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves*32:29 As in Greek and Latin versions; Hebrew reads Today ordain yourselves. for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.”
Moses Intercedes for Israel
30The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness*32:30 Or to make atonement. for your sin.”
31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves.
33But the Lord replied to Moses, “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me.
35Then the Lord sent a great plague upon the people because they had worshiped the calf Aaron had made.