They have violated the first words of YHWH’s law, given through the prophet: to not make any silver or gold representations of YHWH. Now fully appreciating the gravity of their actions, Moses returns to the mountain to again ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of the people. At some unspecified time before that, the congregation became restless. Aaron was saved only through the mercy and compassion of God and Moses reasoning and attempt tp make atonement.And the LORD smote the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. YHWH’s fury at the golden calf—even to the point of wanting to destroy the Israelites altogether—is thus even more understandable than if the sin had been merely the violation of the Decalogue. Golden calf, idol worshipped by the Hebrews during the period of the Exodus from Egypt in the 13th century bc and during the age of Jeroboam I, king of Israel, in the 10th century bc. He therefore pleads with God to be merciful and spare the people. After an extended break, the narrative returns to the people, awaiting Moses at the base of the mountain. They got impatient. 4), which, forthwith, they proceeded to worship with every species of disgraceful revelry (ver. When Moses goes to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites create a Golden Calf to worship from their impatience of his absence. And so the people stand back while Moses approaches the mountain to receive the laws—the laws of the Covenant Code. But that is not the same as idolatry actually being the problem. 2. 32 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods that will go before us. Everything was going so well: The Exodus from Egypt, the Splitting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire, the cloud, water from the rock. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!”. Therefore the golden calf was a sin because it violated the commandment given in Exodus 20. 32:4; עֶגְלֵי זָהָב I Kings 12:28), the golden image made by Aaron at the behest of the Israelites and venerated near Mount Sinai (Ex. In Egypt, a bull, Apis, was sacred to the god Ptah and emblematic of him. The calf first appears in the time of Moses (Ex 32), but golden calves were also worshipped in Northern Israel during the monarchy. Note - 1. script>, Speculating about the Original Text of the Decalogue. The Golden Calf book. [4] Although it is true that the calves are presented as their own sin (see e.g., 2 Kings 17:16), it would seem that the biblical authors, having decided that the only proper worship of YHWH was that which took place in Jerusalem, polemicized against non-centralized worship by describing it as idolatrous, at least rhetorically. So many miracles! In the end, if the people are forgiven and if Israel survived as a nation, it was because the God who redeemed them from their oppression was “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:60. The shape it assumed would be lumpy and could be interpreted as one would look at any rock or cloud and imagine a resemblance to a thing or creature. Something went wrong while submitting the form. Therefore, perhaps his deeds are mitigated somehow. The sin of the Golden Calf divides Parashat Ki Tisa into two parts – before the sin and after it.. At first glance, the sin ruined all of God’s plans. Original Question: When Aaron yielded to the demands of the Israelites to build the golden calf (Exodus 32), God punished the people but was Aaron punished for his compromising sin?. 10:5; 11:2). Moses ascended Mount Sinai on the 7 th day of the Jewish month of Sivan with the stated intention of being gone for forty days and returning on the morning of the forty-first day. In addition to the Shabbat in the respective parashiot Ki Tisa and Ekev, sections of it are read on the four “minor” fast days both in … The sin of the golden calf and the laws pertaining to the errant woman share the common themes of adultery and the imbibing of a potentially deadly elixir. The story of the golden calf is told twice in the Torah: Exodus 32, told through the voice of the omniscient narrator, is the version that is read in synagogue in the aforementioned days; it is repeated in Deuteronomy 9—10 in the voice of Moses, who reminds the Israelites at the Plains of Moab of their earlier sin. Designed for both Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike, The Israel Bible offers a unique commentary that seeks to explain God’s focus on the Land of Israel alongside the original Hebrew text, transliteration of select Hebrew verses, and the New Jewish Publication Society translation. The golden calf worshippers were engaging in nonstop sexual orgies that would make even the most godless peoples and nations around them blush in horror at what they were hearing. Upon returning, Moses is very angered by the false idol they have created and destroys both the tablets given to him and their Golden Calf. In his defense of the people, Moses calls upon God to remember His pledge to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By: Rev. Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action? His existence is worthless, as all he knows or learned in his life, to him, stems from an imagined physical god, not the true metaphysical God. It is, however, impossible to deny his involvement. According to the Bible, the golden calf (עֵגֶּל הַזָהָב ‘ēggel hazāhāv) was an idol (a cult image) made by the Israelites when Moses went up to Mount Sinai. [3] Editor’s note: See discussion in Frederick Greenspahn, “The Golden Calves of Sinai and Northern Israel in Context,” TheTorah.com (2015). Please support us. In other words, prior to the sin of the golden calf the Shechinah was prepared to dwell within every Jew; every Jew would have been his own personal Mishkan. The sages discuss Aaron’s role in the sin at great length. In fact, the Talmud states that at that point in time, the Jewish people were entirely righteous, insusceptible to sin. When Moses arrives in the camp and sees what God saw, he is incensed. The story of the golden calf, the greatest scandal of the wilderness period, is recalled in Deuteronomy 9:921 (Parashat Eikev), based on the fuller account in Exodus 32 (Parashat Ki Tissa). TheTorah.com is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.We rely on the support of readers like you. The craftsmen that came out of Egypt were used to working with Gold and therefore copper was added to give the calf strength. Except that the Israelites hadn’t received this commandment. script type="text/javascript"> From this explanation, we see that the golden calf was not born of a … The making of the golden calf, as a violation of the Covenant Collection is, therefore, also a rejection of the entire sequence to that point: the theophany, the experience of hearing the Decalogue, the establishment of Moses as prophet, the thrice-repeated agreement to follow whatever laws Moses might transmit to them from YHWH, the law-giving proper, and the covenant ceremony. 32). Exodus 32 relates that the Israelites, anxious about Moses' prolonged absence, demanded that *Aaron provide a god to lead them. Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Because Aharon had put his hope in the Lord to be the God of His Salvation, God did allow for reconciliation. This was a terrible and serious departure from God. If we don’t know the true God, we will make our own deities. They had made for them "a molten calf" (ver. It always makes me wonder what hope I have of maintaining my faith when I have only HIS Word to cling to in this day. “The Golden Calves of Sinai and Northern Israel in Context,”. In Canaanite literature, the chief god El is sometimes called a b… Perhaps it was At this time, he contributed regularly to local scholarly journals authoring dozens of original expositions and ruminations in Hebrew. "A Miserable Bride" The Gemara (Gittin 36b) records the words of Ula: "It is a miserable bride who prostitutes herself under the very wedding canopy," commenting on the verse – "While the King was still at His banquet, my nard gave forth its fragrance" (Shir Ha-Shirim 1:12). The golden calf happens in Exodus 32. He mentions that the sin was not replacing God, but since they saw Moshe go up the mountain with no food or water, and was there for forty days, they were worried that he died, and they were looking for a medium for them to connect to God. Class 12: Explaining the Inexplicable: The Sin of The Golden Calf, Part 1 – How could they do it? Mentioned in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12 in the Old Testament, worship of the golden calf is seen as a supreme act of apostasy, the rejection of a faith once confessed. Praise HIM Who keeps me in HIS Way!! I also think his explanation to Moshe of how he’d thrown the gold in the fire and a calf came out is quite plausible. “What is our Golden Calf?” Exodus 32:1-17. In chapter 32 of the Book of Exodus, there’s the famous story of the golden calf. See more ideas about golden calf, bible class, bible lessons. Verses 29 & 30 remind me of how sin coucheth at the door (Gen 4:7) as both speak of brother against brother and a blessing for those who comprehend their sin. I have no trouble seeing this happening. He then takes the golden calf and melts it down. ‘The bad people who worshiped the golden calf must die,’ Moses says. The Law of the Goring Ox: Is It Neutered? The relationship of the biblical tradition to golden calf worship seems to be entirely negative. Moses had disappeared into the cloud-enveloped heights of Mount Sinai. Forty days and nights would elapse before his return. The Son of Man Four, The Golden Calf | C W Johnson | ISBN: 9781494317485 | Kostenloser Versand für alle Bücher mit Versand und Verkauf duch Amazon. There is no apotropaic power contained within the laver. [1] Editor’s note: for a different approach to this problem, see Deena Grant, “What Was the Golden Calf?” TheTorah.com (2013). While God certainly showed mercy here in this situation, it should also be remembered that this legacy of not fulfilling God’s commands was passed down to Nadab and Abihu upon whom judgment fell thus acting as a punishment to Aaron as well, The Israel Bible is the world’s first Tanakh (Bible) centered around the Land of Israel, the People of Israel, and the dynamic relationship between them. 1. When Moses seemed to take a long time in returning from the mountain, the Israelites turne… Commentary In the text, immediately following the sin of the golden calf we have the revelation of the 13 attributes of mercy. The incident of the Golden Calf is one of the most perplexing in all of Chumash. The difficulties are obvious: What exactly were the people looking for and why did some of them lapse into idolatry after having experienced G-d’s miraculous interventions? Before God punished the Israelites for their sin, He gave them first a chance to repent and mend their ways.For “Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, ‘Who is on the LORD’s side? Even though there are reasonable explanations for why Aaron and the people began to worship the golden calf, those explanations do not excuse the sin. Upon returning, Moses is very angered by the false idol they have created and destroys both the tablets given to him and their Golden Calf. https://www.patreon.com/GodsBeforeHimWho was the golden calf of the book of Exodus? "Into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay" (Prayer book Version). Then would he melt the gold and produce a calf from it. Humans are not created to be godless. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and an M.A. (#8) "THE SIN OF THE GOLDEN CALF" I. Israel's Terrible Sin A. Except that the Israelites hadn’t received this commandment. Facebook ; Twitter ; Pinterest ; LinkedIn ; Email ; Bio; Latest Posts; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan. [2] See, e.g., William Propp, Exodus 19–40 (Anchor Yale Bible 2A; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 566: “The people immediately violate the Decalogue by making for themselves a metal god in a calf’s likeness.”. When man assumes there is a sensory connection between God and the physical, man forfeits his purpose. from the University of Chicago. The Apis bull, Hathor or Osiris? 26 The sin of the golden calf was a “decree of … The sin itself. The Ideological Basis of the Sin of the Golden Calf. Yehudah HaLevi, the author of the Kuzari, written in the 12th century, discusses the sin of the Golden Calf at length. The Sin of the Calf:‎ The Rise of the Bible’s Negative Attitude toward the Golden Calf A gold cultic statue of a young bull, whose worship the biblical authors condemned. Golden calf, idol worshipped by the Hebrews during the period of the Exodus from Egypt in the 13th century bc and during the age of Jeroboam I, king of Israel, in the 10th century bc. What was in the air when a nation that just experienced the greatest moment in human history fell so far, so fast? Share on. They notice that Moses is late in returning, and they turn to his brother Aaron, asking him to build a new messenger to replace the missing Moses. When Moses goes to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites create a Golden Calf to worship from their impatience of his absence. Not even knowing exactly what the Israelites have done wrong to earn God’s wrath, Moses defends the people, telling God that if He were to do such a thing, the Egyptians would think He was unable to bring the people to safety. Moses called for those who were on the Lord’s side to come stand with him ( Exodus 32:26 ). Involved, as always is true with departure from the true God, were other sins: B. THE PEOPLE'S SIN. Therefore the men who worshiped the calf was very very few. So the king took counsel and made two golden calfs. The sin of the Golden Calf was one of the spiritual nadirs of the early history of the Children of Israel, and it was seized upon by Christianity in its attempt to both demonstrate the stiff-necked nature of the Jewish people and rationalize that fulfillment of the Torah's commandments was required only for those who had sinned with the Calf. According to the Bible, the golden calf (עֵגֶּל הַזָהָב ‘ēggel hazāhāv) was an idol (a cult image) made by the Israelites when Moses went up to Mount Sinai.In Hebrew, the incident is known as ḥēṭ’ ha‘ēggel (חֵטְא הַעֵגֶּל) or the Sin of the Calf.It is first mentioned in Exodus 32:4. The Sin of the Golden Calf. Many (perhaps all) participated in the sin, but God limited the penalty to those who possibly instigated it. But when Moshe arrived it was too late for Aaron’s involvement, though his heart had not been involved….., The 15th century scholar Isaac Abrabanel suggests that Aaron was prevented from entering the Land of Israel as a punishment for his involvement in this sin. Thinking that Moses was dead, the people panicked as they were now alone in the wilderness with no leader and no intermediary between themselves and God (see Aliza’s comment above). Born in 1971 in Norfolk, Virginia, Rabbi Kaplan attended Ivy League Yeshiva Schools in New York City during his adolescence. It is apparent that despite all the good intentions, the sin of the Golden Calf is still characterized as the sin of idolatry, the greatest sin in the Torah, a violation of the second of the Ten Commandments. It is first mentioned in Exodus 32:4. At first glance, the sin ruined all of God’s plans. So Moses tells some of the men to take their swords. The sin was the sin of idolatry, violation of the first commandment. He said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Moses’ personal intercession on behalf of his people saved them. According to the Mishna, Aaron was a peace-maker. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that … Read More, Copyright © 2021 The Israel Bible All Rights Reserved. You mention such an interesting point. The miracles reached a climax with the voices and the lightning at Mt. Meanwhile, God accuses the people of being “stiff-necked”, and threatens to wipe them out, starting over with Moses. By Ahuva Balofsky (Moderator), This section begins with God giving Moses the two tablets of stone upon which He has written with His own hand. The story of the golden calf is a story of sin and forgiveness, of rebellion and mercy, of disobedience and reconciliation. R. Tuck . Launched Shavuot 5773 / 2013 | Copyright © Project TABS, All Rights Reserved. The most explicit is that Moses and the Levites kill about 3,000 men: “kill each man his brother, each man his neighbor, and each man his relative.” The text goes a far way to explicitly present the Levites in the favorable role of expiating the sin. Rabbi Knopf offers a fresh take on a story you thought you knew in his Shabbat message for Parashat KI Tisa. Images of bulls and calves were common in Near Eastern religions. While the Egyptians were on their heels, God split the Red Sea, and the Israelites passed through safely. It shows man’s inherent weakness and God’s justice and compassion and also portrays Moses as both slayer and mediator and a means of atonement. In R. Binyamin Lau’s 2016 internet essay on Parashat Ki Tissa, he references the classic Midrash analogizing the sin of the Golden Calf, cited by RaShI: Shemot 34:1 “And the LORD Said unto Moshe: Hew thee… The deeper question that I struggle with each year is how the people fell into sin standing next to a mountain covered with smoke and fire while a pillar of fire stood in the midst of the camp. St. Stephen speaking about Moses and Israel's sin: This is the man that our ancestors refused to listen to; they pushed him aside, went back to Egypt in their thoughts, and said to Aaron "Make us a god to go at our head; for that Moses, the man who brought us here from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." GOLDEN CALF (Heb. He destroys the golden calf, grinds it to a powder and dissolves it in water, which he forces the people to drink. Images of bulls and calves were common in Near Eastern religions. Perhaps Aaron was atoned when he and the other Levites came and stood with Moshe and they slew all those that stood apart from them just as Pinchas took a stand against sin in a later portion and received a special blessing from Elohim. For this author—known as the Elohist—the Covenant Collection is not one part of the law, or one law collection among others, but is the law collection, the only laws that YHWH ever gave to Israel. Moses indicated that Aaron at least should … The golden calf was to act as their conduit and representative, through which they could achieve closeness to God. Aaron’s actions seem indefensible, yet he continues to serve as High Priest even after the incident of the golden calf (indeed, he doesn’t even start to serve until after). The biggest problem with their sin, according to HaLevi, is that they decided through their own design how to best serve God, when serving God is about obedience, and serving Him through methods He has commanded. SueJean, you’re right that it is hard to condemn Aaron when God himself doesn’t and he is allowed to continue in his role as High Priest. Perhaps trying to steer them away from worshiping the calf, and directing them in the proper service of God. Many commentators also struggle, as you do, with the fact that people fell into sin … The sin of the Golden Calf divides Parashat Ki Tisa into two parts – before the sin and after it. What the calf represented is debated by scholars. This centrality is further evident from the amount of times a part of this story appears as one of the official Torah readings for holidays, making it the most frequent story read in synagogue in the course of the year. Most telling is the fact that Aaron continues on to become the High Priest as if nothing had happened at all. The Israel Bible points out that Moses was concerned should God wipe out the people and start over with him, as He suggested, the promise to the forefathers to give their descendents the Holy Land might no longer be binding. The Sin of the Golden Calf. He first commands the people to bring their jewelry. Once we turn and repent TODAY, To-morrow is the new beginning we hope for–Restoration to God and to each other.Where the priest, sinned, the prophetic utterance offered a way out of the mess Israel had just gotten themselves into. What was the sin of the golden calf? The people have done a very bad thing. 6). Prof. Joel Baden is Professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale University. The reason it happened was because he hadn’t come back and the Israelites were getting worried. 32 [] When the people saw that Moses delayed [] in coming down [] from the mountain, they [] gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, [] make us gods [] that will go before us. However, it is the people who take things too far-as they bring sacrifices and act frivolously. The narrative of the Golden Calf, found in Ki Tisa, raises a wealth of questions about the nature of the sin, the motivations and emotions that precipitated it, and its far-reaching repercussions. 1. Everything was going so well: The Exodus from Egypt, the Splitting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire, the cloud, water from the rock. The narrative of the Golden Calf, found in Ki Tisa, raises a wealth of questions about the nature of the sin, the motivations and emotions that precipitated it, and its far-reaching repercussions. This is the recitation of the verses, “HaShem, HaShem, (1) G-d [who is], (2) merciful and (3) gracious, (4&5) slow to anger, and (6) abounding in kindness and (7) truth. God accepts. The steps in the sin are noted in the narrative. - … Yet the Israelites’ preeminent sin, the making of the golden calf, is fundamentally a lack of obedience to this law code. Then in the desert, as Moses was on Mount Sinai retrieving the 10 Commandments, the Israelites did what we often see in the Old Testament. The centrality of the unusual root The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anit4:5) states: Similarly, the Talmud Bavli (Sanhedrin102a) States: These statements point to the centrality of this story in Jewish cultural memory. Oops! He knew that which they were asking was wrong and tried to delay the whole process by asking the gold from the women. Where Moshe was the more Theocratic Leader reacting on the words and will of G-d was Aaron a more democratic leader, reacting on the words and will of the people, he served. He confronts his brother for leading the people astray, and calls upon all those who are for God to join him; the Levites join Moses and enact God’s justice among the people. by Rabbi Pinchas Kasnett. The text twice repeats that the laver served the purpose of preventing death. Summarized by David Silverberg God accuses Benei Yisrael of "testing" Him ten times throughout their sojourn in the desert (Bemidbar 14:22). There are no excuses for this sin, although attempts are made: a. I. As well, as Diana mentioned, when he sees the calf, and the reaction of the people, he declares the next day as a holiday for God. Arrangement with them between God and the Israelites were getting worried the foot of the Israel Bible™ the of! Have undermined the whole of YHWH ’ s role in the air when a nation that experienced... Aharon had put his hope in the 12th century, discusses the of! Bring sacrifices and act frivolously and children did what he did destroys golden. S thought that perhaps he was trying to steer them away from the. Heights of Mount Sinai ha ‘ ēggel ( חֵטְא הַעֵגֶּל ) or sin. For their corruption ( Exodus 32:26 ) fact that Aaron continues on to become the High Priest if! 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The camp and sees what God saw, he is permitted to serve as High Priest after?. ; Latest Posts ; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan remember his pledge to Abraham, and!, starting over with Moses people stand back while Moses approaches the mountain with God to remember pledge... Were on their heels, God did allow for reconciliation Moses arrives in the sin of the golden calf and! Not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of the golden calf must die, ’ Moses says “ what our! Mendel Kaplan have been going up to Jerusalem long enough pledge to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for sin... 3 different punishments stated for the sin of idolatry, violation of the book of Exodus Tisa into parts. No distinctions between any of these Ten incidents were particularly severe always is true with departure God... That women are absent from many of the golden calf was a peace-maker the Jewish people were entirely,.