The Golden Calf
When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they went to Aaron and said: "As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. He went up into Mount Sinai and has disappeared from our sight. We would that you should make us gods to worship that shall go before us."
Aaron told them to take the gold earrings out of the ears of their wives, and of their sons and of their daughters and bring them to him. All the people took off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. They also brought him their golden ornaments so that he had a great quantity of gold. With it he made a golden figure of a calf and set it up before the people for them to see. The people exclaimed, "These are our gods which brought us up out of the land of Egypt." And the people bowed down and worshipped the golden calf.
Then Aaron built an altar before it and told the people that on the next day there should be a feast to the Lord, and they should offer burnt offerings and peace offerings and have plenty to eat and drink and that they should bow before the golden calf.
Moses was still up in the mountain of Sinai where he was receiving from the hands of the Lord the tables of stone that contained the Ten Commandments and directions about building the tabernacle. The Lord told him that the people had corrupted themselves and were worshiping idols, and that he should hasten down from the mountain and punish them according as the Lord should tell him.
Moses hastened down from the top of the mountain with the two tables of stone in his hands. The tables were slabs of stone and the writing on the tables was the writing of God and the tables were written on both sides.
When Moses came near the people, Joshua said: "There is the noise of war in the camp." And Moses replied, "It is not the voice of those that shout for victory, but the noise I hear is like those who sing." And he came near the camp and saw the people dancing before the golden calf.
Moses was so angry with the people for this idolatry that he cast the tables of stone out of his hands and they broke in pieces as they fell to the ground. Then he took the calf which they had made and burnt it in the fire and ground it to powder and strewed the ashes into the waters.
Then Moses turned to Aaron and said: "Why did you let the people bring such a great sin upon themselves?" And Aaron began to excuse himself and say that the people wanted gods to worship and that he thought that Moses had left them altogether and told him how he had made the golden calf. This story made Moses angrier than ever.
Then Moses stood before the people and cried out, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come onto me." And all the sons of Levi came and stood by Moses. Then he told the sons of Levi to take their swords and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man who had been concerned in the idolatry, for the Lord wanted to purify the camp of all wickedness.
The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded them. They drew their swords and fell upon the worshipers and pursued them from gate to gate throughout the camp and there fell on that day about three thousand men.
Moses knew that God was angry with the people of Israel for worshiping the golden calf, so he prayed to Him to forgive the people for their ins, and lead them on to the promised land. God promised Moses to forgive the people, and said: "Whosoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book."
The Lord then told Moses to hew two tables of stone like those he had broken and to come again to the top of Mount Sinai, and to bring no man with him, nor to let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain, nor to let the flocks and herds feed near the mountain. Moses rose up early in the morning, took the two tables of stone which he had cut out of the mountain and went up alone into the mount to talk with God. He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights, and neither ate nor drank all that time.
The Lord again gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the words of the covenant written upon the tables of stone, and Moses went down the mountain unto the people, and the skin of his face shone so brightly that the people were afraid to come near him. But he called to them and put a veil over his face and told the people all the things the Lord had commanded them to do.
Then the people prepared to build the ark according to the way the Lord had directed them. They brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings and all their ornaments of gold, then they brought fine linen and purple and blue and scarlet cloth, and goats' skins, and badger skins, so that there was plenty of material to build the tabernacle and the altars. The rulers also brought jewels and precious stones for the ephod and the breastplate, and spices and oil for the light and for the anointing. Everybody who had anything needed for the tabernacle gave it to the Lord for the building of His place of worship.
Then Bezaleel and Aholiab and the wise hearted men of Israel wrought every man according to his wisdom. The women spun the cloth and wove the curtains. The tabernacle was soon ready, the poles were set in the ground, the curtains were hung, the ark and the altars and laver were made, the priests were consecrated, and the tabernacle was complete. Then the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle and a cloud covered the tent of the congregation.
The Lord told Moses that when the cloud stood over the tabernacle the people were to rest at that place on their journey, no matter how long the cloud rested over the tabernacle. When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, and moved before it, the people were to journey as long as the cloud led them. And so the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by night, and the people could see the will of the Lord throughout all their journey.