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(are set] on mischief ; they are an obstinate untractable peo23 ple, and there is no reclaiming them. For they said unto me,
Make us gods, which shall go before us : for (as for) this
we wot not what is become of him ; they insisted on my daing 24 it, and spoke very disrepectfully of thee. And I said unto them,
Whosoever hath any gold, let them break [it] off : I thought to make it very expensive to them, in hopes that they would not comply. But so it was that they gave [it] me : then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.*
And when Moses saw that the people (were) naked, unarmed, intent upon their diversion, set at liberty from all restraint ; (for Aaron had made them naked unto (their) shame among their enemies, by appointing them to keep such a feast.) Thus they were at once deprived of their innocence, and of the
favour and protection of God, and so might easily be surprised 26 by their enemies. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp,
and there set up his standard in opposition to the golden calf, and said, Who (is) on the Lord's side ? who will take God's part against idolatry and idolaters ? [let him come) unto me.
And all the sons of Levi, that is, the greatest part of them, 27 gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto
them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, fill your hand with your sword, as the original is, and execute the divine commission with impartiality and holy zeal for God, (and) go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour ; slay
the ringleaders, though they be your nearest relations. (Deut. 28 xxxiii. 9.) And the children of Levi who came to Moses did
according to the word of Moses : accordingly the judgment
was executed, and there fell of the people that day about three 29 thousand men, in the midst of idolatry and mirth. For Moses
had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even ev. ery man upon his son, and upon his brother ; that he may
bestow upon you a blessing this day. 30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto
the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD again, to pray, and plead for you ; peradventure
I shall make an atonement for your sin. He speaks doubtful31 ly, to rouse their fears and awaken their repentance. And Mo.
ses returned unto the LORD, and said, with great concern and horror, quite overwhelmed with grief and shame, Oh, this peo
ple have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt, I pray thee, forgive their sin ; and if
not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast
A strange, senseless story. If Aaron meant by this, that others made it, it was not true, nor much to the purpose'; for as a magistrate, be ought to have prevented it, and not encouraged them it.
written ; if thou art determined to destroy Israel, let me die with them, blot my name out of thy book with theirs ; for I cannot bear to survive them. This was a noble and heroic diso
position. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosvever hath sinned
against me, him will I blot out of my book; I will punish
none but the transgressor8 : I will spare the righteous, the inno34 cent, and the penitent. Therefore now go, lead the people
unto (the place) of which I have spoken unto thee : behold, mine Angel shall go before thee, as I promised, ch. xxiii. 20. notwithstanding this their rebellion against me : nevertheless, in the day when I visit and punish them for other crimes, I will
visit this their sin upon them, and they shall suffer more severe35 ly on account of it. And the Lord plagued the people with
pestilence, or some other awful judgment, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.*
1. O W mean does guilt make a man appear, though oth.
erwise he may be wise and good ! What a poor figure does Aaron make! It was a sorry excuse that he offered ; bet. ter he had said nothing ; indeed he could scarce say any thing, even to palliate the crime. Let us avoid sin, and every appear. ance of evil ; this will give us courage and joy. The greatest enmity which can be done to persons, is to lead them to sin, as Aaron did.
2. We may learn from the conduct of the Levites, to act impartially, when engaged in the cause of God. Moses speaks of it to their praise, in his final blessing, that they did not know their brethren, nor acknowledge their children, when they were commanded to execute divine vengeance. They did not make this a scene of private affection and partiality. Thus must we act in God's cause ; do nothing from partiality ; be ready, as they were, to appear on the Lord's side ; and not be neuter, when the cause of truth and righteousness demands our regard. Let us espouse the Lord's interest against all who oppose it, be they ever so numerous ; join on the Lord's side, though, as here, there may be very few that do so. Let us act an upright, honest part; consecrate ourselves to the service of God; then, whatever men say, and however they treat us, he will bestow a blessing upon us, as he did upon Levi. If we consecrate ourselves to God's service, he will consecrate us to special dignity ; and make us kings and priests unto himself. His side will be victorious, and he will bountifully reward all those who espouse it.
Most of the ancient versions render it, because they received the calf which Aarote made; and this is probably the genuine meaning of the passage.
3. We must not conclude that guilt is forgiven, because the punishment of it is delayed, v. 34. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them. I shall be more ready to punish future transgressions, for it will be a great aggravation of their guilt, if, in any future instance, they offend against me. This is a necessary caution ; for men are ready to think God forgets, because they do; and because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. They think it will never be remembered, and they shall never be called to an account ; but this is a dangerous mistake ; Israel knew it to be so to their cost. They were so sensible of the malignity of this crime, that it was a common saying among them, in after ages, ' There was no judgment came upon them, but was mixed with an ounce of the golden calf.' The modern Jews keep a yearly fast on that day, to entreat the divine favour. In a word, the great lesson to be learnt from the whole is, that we should watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation, for God is jealous of his honour, of his name, of the purity of his worship, and the observance of his commands: none ever hardened themselves against him and prospered.
The divine displeasure being still manifested against Israel, Moses
successfully intercedes for them, and for himself. 1 ND the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, [and] go up
hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, onto the land which I sware un
to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will 2 I give it : And I will send an angel before thee ; and I will
drive out the Cannanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the 3 Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite : Unto a land filowing
with milk and honey : for, though I will send my angel, as I promised, ch. xxiii. yet I will not go up in the midst of thee, in favour, and with a visible sign of my presence, (yet afterward he was entreated, v. 14.) for thou (art) a stiffnecked people : lest I consume thee in the way, if thou shouldst trespass again 80 abominably as in the matter of the golden calf : 80 that in the
midst of judgment God remembered mercy, 4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourn
ed: and no man did put on him his ornaments, but used signs 5 of mourning and lamentation. For the Lord had said unto
Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye [are) a stiffnecked people ; I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee, if thou repent not : therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, humble thyself, and show fruits of
repentance, that I may know what to do unto thee, whether
thou wilt repent, or persist in thy sin, and so do accordingly. 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their orna
ments by the mount Horeb. 7 And Moses took the tabernacle, (probably the tent in which
he inquired of God, and sat in judgment) and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation, or meeting, because here God met Moses, and here the people came to seek direction in difficult cases. And it came to pass, (that) every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which (was) without the camp ; which, though it was a mark of God's displeasure, yet gave them hope that he would be found of them
that sought him, though he did not dwell in the midst of them. 8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the taberna
cle, lo intercede with God for the people, [that] all the people rose up, and stood every man [at] his tent door, and looked . after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle, acknowle
edging themselves unworthy to approach nearer. 9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle,
the cloudy pillar descended, and stood [at] the door of the
tabernacle, and (the Lord] talked with Moses out of the cloudy 10 pillar, which was a sign of favour, (Psa. xcix. 7.) And all the
people saw the cloudy pillar stand [at] the tabernacle door : and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man [in]
his tent door, adoring the divine majesty, and adding their earn11 est intercessions to those of Moses. And the Lord spake un
to Moses, out of the shining cloud, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend, audibly, distincily, with great kindness and condescension : which showed his approbation of Moses. And he turned again into the camp ; but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle,
but waited there before the Lord. 12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me,
Bring up this people : and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me, who this angel is that I am to expect ; and thou hast withdrawn thy special presence. Yet thou hast
said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in 13 my sight, I have a special and particular regard for thee. Now
therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, what course thou meanest to take with us, that I may know thee, how good thou art, that I may find
grace in thy sight : and consider that this nation [is] thy 14 people, thine by covenant, and under thy special care. And he,
that is, God, graciously heard and answered him, and said, My presence shall go (with thee,) and I will give thee rest from thy present perplexity, and will in due time bring thy people to Vol. I.
15 their resting place.* And he said unto him, If thy presence
go not (with me,] if thou dost not grant us this favour, carry 16 us not up hence, here let us remain. For wherein shall it be
known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? (Is it] not in that thou goest with us ? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that (are]
upon the face of the earth ; we shall be distinguished by thy 17 peculiar kindness, and the privileges vouchsafed to us. And
the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken : for thou hast found grace in my sight, and 1 know thee by name, know thee above all men; thou art my particular favourite and friend.
And he said, Ifit be so, and I have found such favour in thy 19 sight, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.t And he said, I
will make all my goodness, which is my peculiar glory, to pašs before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee ; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy : I will manifest
my sovereign love and mercy to these people, notwithstanding 20 their provocations and idolatry. And he said, Thou canst not
see my face, the majesty and glory attending that external shape
I have now assumed : for there shall no man see me, and live. 21. And the LORD said, Behold, there is) a place by me, and 22 thou shalt stand upon a rock : And it shall come to pass,
while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, which will limit thy view of my glory; and I will cover
thee with my hand while I pass by, that thou mayest not be 23 overwhelmed by it. And I will take away mine hand, and thou
shalt see my back parts, as much as thou canst bear: but my face shall not be seen.
the sense of God's presence, and the hopes of his favour ; when we have fallen into sin, and are grown careless and negligent ; this is a time for lamentation ; it becomes us to bewail this deeply, and to repent most heartily, for woe unto us, if God depart from us.
2. We learn hence, that God maintains a certain decorum in dealing with his creatures, which he will not, and, as a wise and holy being, he cannot violate ; v. 3. I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiffnecked people ; lest I consume thee in the way. He is obliged to animadvert on the transgressions of his people, and not pardon sin by a mere arbitrary act, but in a manner that
. This is a revocation of the sentence, v. 3.
+ Perhaps there was some glorious appearance within the cloud, that Moses wished to see, still farther to increase his veneration, devotion, and love.