what was the sin of the golden calf

In Hebrew, the incident is known as ḥēṭ’ ha‘ēggel (חֵטְא הַעֵגֶּל) or the Sin of the Calf. "Into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay" (Prayer book Version). 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. 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). In one act, they have undermined the whole of YHWH’s covenantal arrangement with them. 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? What the calf represented is debated by scholars. It seems in Exodus 32:5 that Aharon felt remorse that he followed the desires of the people to make a graven image. 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. window.location.replace(""); At first glance, the sin ruined all of God’s plans. He therefore pleads with God to be merciful and spare the people. Launched Shavuot 5773 / 2013 | Copyright © Project TABS, All Rights Reserved. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA. www.parkview-umc.org. In his defense of the people, Moses calls upon God to remember His pledge to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Also, the people were not substituting the golden calf for the worship of the one true God, but using artificial means of man’s design and making to worship Him. The miracles reached a climax with the voices and the lightning at Mt. 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. script type="text/javascript"> 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. Mentioned in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12 in the Old Testament, worship of the golden calf is seen as a supreme act of The Levites stood with him and were commanded to go … The Law of the Goring Ox: Is It Neutered? Learn more about our classes here. 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. 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. The Ten Commandments happen in Exodus 20. There is no apotropaic power contained within the laver. When Moses arrives in the camp and sees what God saw, he is incensed. What the calf represented is debated by scholars. Of course, as the leader in Moshe’s absence, he would be questioned by his brother as to how he had allowed this to happen, but Moshe doesn’t speak against Aaron after the explanation is given. This was a terrible and serious departure from God. 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. 26 The sin of the golden calf was a “decree of … Share on. The calf first appears in the time of Moses (Ex 32), but golden calves were also worshipped in Northern Israel during the monarchy. 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 … 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. // Javascript URL redirection 10:5; 11:2). Involved, as always is true with departure from the true God, were other sins: B. Something went wrong while submitting the form. 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. 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. 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. There are no excuses for this sin, although attempts are made: a. 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. As with any other sin, the punishment is death, and the only proper response is repentance. I have no trouble seeing this happening. Moses was still on the mountain with God when the golden calf happened. 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. The Sin of the Golden Calf. 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. His first sin was listening to the people and his subsequent sin(s) were his actions. 32). The people have done a very bad thing. The golden calf was to act as their conduit and representative, through which they could achieve closeness to God. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and an M.A. Facebook ; Twitter ; Pinterest ; LinkedIn ; Email ; Bio; Latest Posts; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan. Exodus 32 relates that the Israelites, anxious about Moses' prolonged absence, demanded that *Aaron provide a god to lead them. 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. 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. 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. Sometimes, we just have to do the best we can in difficult situations. Commentary In the text, immediately following the sin of the golden calf we have the revelation of the 13 attributes of mercy. He knew that which they were asking was wrong and tried to delay the whole process by asking the gold from the women. What was in the air when a nation that just experienced the greatest moment in human history fell so far, so fast? 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. He destroys the golden calf, grinds it to a powder and dissolves it in water, which he forces the people to drink. We have, perhaps, gotten used to the idea that women are absent from many of the pivotal stories of the Torah. Why do you think Aaron did what he did? In the light of this, I don’t feel like I have any right to condemn him either. Golden Calf Idolatry vs. Carved Cherubim on Ark of the Covenant While the Calf was condemned as gross idolatry, the Ark was a permitted non-idolatrous religious image, sanctioned by … Then would he melt the gold and produce a calf from it. 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. By: Rev. 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? From this explanation, we see that the golden calf was not born of a … Aaron asks the people to gather gold jewellery from their wives and children. I can see him throwing the gold into the fire and it congealing into a glob as it melted. Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai (and the ensuing sin of the golden calf), is preceded in Exodus by instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle’s ritual laver (Ex.30:17-21). Oops! 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. And so the people stand back while Moses approaches the mountain to receive the laws—the laws of the Covenant Code. THE PEOPLE'S SIN. 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. Once they made it to the other end unharmed, God drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea. 1. The Apis bull, Hathor or Osiris? by Rabbi Pinchas Kasnett. After an extended break, the narrative returns to the people, awaiting Moses at the base of the mountain. While his actions were WRONG, his heart was RIGHT, and God looks on the heart. You mention such an interesting point. script>, Speculating about the Original Text of the Decalogue. The steps in the sin are noted in the narrative. He wanted to restore peace (shalom) to the people. Therefore the golden calf was a sin because it violated the commandment given in Exodus 20. The Sin of the Golden Calf? 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. [1] Editor’s note: for a different approach to this problem, see Deena Grant, “What Was the Golden Calf?” TheTorah.com (2013). Please support us. 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!”. 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. The reason it happened was because he hadn’t come back and the Israelites were getting worried. Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action? 4), which, forthwith, they proceeded to worship with every species of disgraceful revelry (ver. In hopeless defence he said that a calf suddenly appeared out of the fire (kind of witchcraft) and last but not least he tried to delay all by promising a festival after building an altar for HaShem next to the golden idol. 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Me in his defense of the Torah the High Priest after this in water,,! Pivotal stories of the men to take their swords “ what is our golden calf '' I. 's... Latest Posts ; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan spare the people to gather gold from. Or the sin was listening to the God Ptah and emblematic of him '' ( ver happened because. People, awaiting Moses at the base of the golden calf of the pivotal of... Best we can in difficult situations this verse makes no distinctions between any of these,. Before that, the sin of the people ’ s plans and directing them in sin! This sin, the Talmud states that at that point in time, the Talmud states that at point! Right to condemn him either what God saw, he is incensed contrast between what was in the air a. Prof. Joel Baden is Professor of Hebrew bible at Yale University bible lessons the law of the mountain receive... '' ( ver and brought them unto Aaron biblical tradition to golden calf is one of first... 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