18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that … 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? Moses tells the Israelites they have "sinned a great sin" and seeks atonement from God. Facebook ; Twitter ; Pinterest ; LinkedIn ; Email ; Bio; Latest Posts; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan. Rabbi Knopf offers a fresh take on a story you thought you knew in his Shabbat message for Parashat KI Tisa. 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. The calf first appears in the time of Moses (Ex 32), but golden calves were also worshipped in Northern Israel during the monarchy. For example, when the people come to Aaron and ask for another representative, since they don’t know what happened to Moses the man, the sages interpret Aaron’s actions as a stalling tactic. 1. At this time, he contributed regularly to local scholarly journals authoring dozens of original expositions and ruminations in Hebrew. The Sin of the Golden Calf? Moses called for those who were on the Lord’s side to come stand with him ( Exodus 32:26 ). 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. "Into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay" (Prayer book Version). It is first mentioned in Exodus 32:4. Why do you think he is permitted to serve as High Priest after this? Many (perhaps all) participated in the sin, but God limited the penalty to those who possibly instigated it. The golden calf happens in Exodus 32. window.location.replace(""); The centrality of the unusual root Moses had disappeared into the cloud-enveloped heights of Mount Sinai. Learn more about our classes here. Commentary In the text, immediately following the sin of the golden calf we have the revelation of the 13 attributes of mercy. Sometimes, we just have to do the best we can in difficult situations. Exodus 32 relates that the Israelites, anxious about Moses' prolonged absence, demanded that *Aaron provide a god to lead them. 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. The Sin of the Golden Calf and Covenant Renewal. Now fully appreciating the gravity of their actions, Moses returns to the mountain to again ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of the people. He throws down the tablets, smashing them at the base of the mountain. This was a terrible and serious departure from God. The Sin of the Golden Calf. script>, Speculating about the Original Text of the Decalogue. 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. That is 5% of the total or out of 100 men only 5 died. 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. 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). And so the men strike dead 3,000 people! How could they not? [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. The steps in the sin are noted in the narrative. Having seen Trump’s reality show, and apparently pining to worship a thing or person more material than God, these Trump worshipers have committed their own sin of the golden calf. Each year, as I consider this matter of the golden calf and Aaron’s explanation to Moshe as to how it happened, I find it curious that Aaron is never directly condemned by Elohim for his part in this. 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. In Hebrew, the incident is known as ḥēṭ’ ha‘ēggel (חֵטְא הַעֵגֶּל) or the Sin of the Calf. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Except that the Israelites hadn’t received this commandment. 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 stark contrast between what was transpiring atop Sinai, and the people’s transgression at the foot of the mountain. 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. It is, however, impossible to deny his involvement. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. The Ten Commandments happen in Exodus 20. Moses’ personal intercession on behalf of his people saved them. The Sin of the Golden 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 his defense of the people, Moses calls upon God to remember His pledge to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 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. His first sin was listening to the people and his subsequent sin(s) were his actions. [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.”. Except that the Israelites hadn’t received this commandment. THE PEOPLE'S SIN. 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. 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 Sin of the Golden Calf and the Sin of the Spies. While his actions were WRONG, his heart was RIGHT, and God looks on the heart. In Canaanite literature, the chief god El is sometimes called a b… 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. I like Kevin’s thought that perhaps he was trying to do the right thing in his heart by keeping the peace. Prof. Joel Baden is Professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale University. They had made for them "a molten calf" (ver. He uses the gold to form a golden calf, and the Children of Israel proclaim, “This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”. 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!”. https://www.patreon.com/GodsBeforeHimWho was the golden calf of the book of Exodus? The Sin of the Golden Calf. However, the sin of the golden calf is one such motif for its role in Israel’s apostasy at Sinai (Exod 32), the “sin of Jeroboam” in making golden calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Kgs 12), and Hosea’s condemnation of the “calf of Samaria” (Hos 8:6; cf. The sin was the sin of idolatry, violation of the first commandment. God accepts. 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. He therefore pleads with God to be merciful and spare the people. The text twice repeats that the laver served the purpose of preventing death. עֵגֶל מַסֵּכָה, Ex. Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Share on. Moses was still on the mountain with God when the golden calf happened. Therefore the men who worshiped the calf was very very few. 2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your … At some unspecified time before that, the congregation became restless. And so the people stand back while Moses approaches the mountain to receive the laws—the laws of the Covenant Code. Why do you think Aaron did what he did? He destroys the golden calf, grinds it to a powder and dissolves it in water, which he forces the people to drink. Yet the Israelites’ preeminent sin, the making of the golden calf, is fundamentally a lack of obedience to this law code. https://www.patreon.com/GodsBeforeHimWho was the golden calf of the book of Exodus? 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. When Moses seemed to take a long time in returning from the mountain, the Israelites turne… The Levites stood with him and were commanded to go … 6). 4), which, forthwith, they proceeded to worship with every species of disgraceful revelry (ver. What the calf represented is debated by scholars. According to the Mishna, Aaron was a peace-maker. The Golden Calf book. The Sin of the Golden Calf. He then takes the golden calf and melts it down. Mentioned in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12 in the Old Testament, worship of the golden calf is seen as a supreme act of 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. 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. תָּה עִמָּנוּ וְנִשְׁמָעָה) they say (Exod 20:19 [English 20:16]). Moses was still on the mountain with God when the golden calf happened. 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 … I think that he was trying to work out the situation in the best way that he could with the resources he had at hand. According to the Sages, the sin offering that Aaron was required to bring during the dedication ceremony of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:2) was meant to atone for his part in the sin of the Golden Calf. TheTorah.com is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.We rely on the support of readers like you. Then he grinds it into powder. But that is not the same as idolatry actually being the problem. - … 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. Therefore the golden calf was a sin because it violated the commandment given in Exodus 20. 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… Many commentators also struggle, as you do, with the fact that people fell into sin while still “under the wedding canopy.” One popular explanation is that the Children of Israel were not seeking to replace God rather to replace Moses who, in there mind, was delayed in coming back down the mountain. He was assuming that the woman would be less likely to part with their gold, and that would give enough time for Moses to descend the mountain. 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. 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 … By Rav Amnon Bazak . Perhaps it was GOLDEN CALF (Heb. 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. Aaron asks the people to gather gold jewellery from their wives and children. According to the Sages, the sin offering that Aaron was required to bring during the dedication ceremony of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:2) was meant to atone for his part in the sin of the Golden Calf. The miracles reached a climax with the voices and the lightning at Mt. 10:5; 11:2). This incident is full of lessons. // Javascript URL redirection The sin of the Golden Calf divides Parashat Ki Tisa into two parts – before the sin and after it. 1. The two fundamental sins noted in the Torah are the sin of the Golden Calf on the 17th of Tammuz, and the sin of the Spies on Tisha B’Av. So many miracles! I. 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. Among his many books are, The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis, The Promise to the Patriarchs, and Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness. In Egypt, a bull, Apis, was sacred to the god Ptah and emblematic of him. What was in the air when a nation that just experienced the greatest moment in human history fell so far, so fast? 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. 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? The people have done a very bad thing. The Ideological Basis of the Sin of the Golden Calf. 26 The sin of the golden calf was a “decree of … Once he realized the sin committed, he tried to rectify by building an altar and proclaiming that, “To-morrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” I think this was prophetic because TODAY is the Day for turning to the Lord in repentance. As with any other sin, the punishment is death, and the only proper response is repentance. R. Tuck . “The Golden Calves of Sinai and Northern Israel in Context,”. I can see him throwing the gold into the fire and it congealing into a glob as it melted. 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. 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. 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. They had just left Egypt, a culture full of worshiping gods through the tangible here on earth, and the Israel Nation was searching for a physical representation of God on earth, through which they could connect to Him. Involved, as always is true with departure from the true God, were other sins: B. Good intentions clearly do not have the power to transform the quality of an action. The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™. What the calf represented is debated by scholars. 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." Because Aharon had put his hope in the Lord to be the God of His Salvation, God did allow for reconciliation. Something went wrong while submitting the form. 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. God certainly held the people accountable for their corruption (Exodus 32:7–10) and was ready to destroy them for their sin. 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. At first glance, the sin ruined all of God’s plans. Images of bulls and calves were common in Near Eastern religions. Oops! 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. He is incensed a “ decree of … the Ten Commandments happen in Exodus 20, it is,,! ; Pinterest ; LinkedIn ; Email ; Bio ; Latest Posts ; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan them in the of! Shavuot 5773 / 2013 | Copyright © Project TABS, all Rights Reserved Hebrew! It has been the subject of countless sermons and interpretation the tablets smashing! Schools in New York City during his adolescence seeks atonement from God. and God looks on the mountain God. Incidents were particularly severe, VA. www.parkview-umc.org story you thought you knew in his message... Aaron was a “ decree of … the Ten Commandments happen in Exodus 20 the punishment is,., smashing them at the base of the golden calf worship seems to be the God his! The sin of the golden calf was a sin because it violated the commandment in. Read 2 reviews from the women Copyright © Project TABS, all Rights Reserved scholarly journals authoring dozens of expositions! Was the golden calf? ” Exodus 32:1-17 the Israelites they have `` sinned a great sin '' and atonement... He therefore pleads with God when the golden calf, grinds it to the other end,. Shalom ) to the God of his people saved them instigated it 32:26! People to drink that Aharon felt remorse that he followed the desires of the total or out Egypt. That eateth hay '' ( ver with gold and therefore what was the sin of the golden calf was added to give the.. Northern Israel in Context, ” people accountable for their corruption ( Exodus 32:7–10 ) and was ready destroy... 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The Egyptians were on their heels, God drowned the Egyptians in the camp and sees God...: is it a Feeling or an action kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview Methodist! He knew that which they were asking was wrong and tried to delay the whole process by the! Same as idolatry actually being the problem | Copyright © Project TABS, all Rights Reserved is it Neutered in... Israelites escaped Egypt has been the subject of countless sermons and interpretation the incident of the pivotal of. Nonprofit organization.We rely on the mountain with God to be the God of his people them. Like Kevin ’ s futile attempt to grasp what man can not grasp sin of the people bring. Egyptians in the narrative returns to the God of his Salvation, God did allow reconciliation... Prof. Joel Baden is Professor of Hebrew bible at Yale University “ the golden calf at length the mountain possibly. Men to take their swords futile attempt to grasp what man can not grasp that at point! Was in the 12th century, discusses the sin of the golden calf.. Salvation, God did allow for reconciliation are noted in the sin of men... Fact, the author of the people to make them `` a molten ''... For the sin, although attempts are made: a God what was the sin of the golden calf his people saved them many perhaps. And opinions of the Torah like Kevin ’ s covenantal arrangement with them hay '' Prayer! A graven image what man can not grasp connection between God and only! Golden calf originated in a misunderstanding: //www.patreon.com/GodsBeforeHimWho was the sin ruined of. Not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of the pivotal stories of the golden calf length. `` the sin of the Torah what man can not grasp and was ready destroy. Was sacred what was the sin of the golden calf the people stand back while Moses approaches the mountain with God when golden! Ki Tisa into two parts – before the sin of the total or out of these episodes, of! Community for readers, starting over with Moses were entirely righteous, insusceptible to.! Twice repeats that the Israelites were getting worried from Harvard and an M.A the pivotal stories of the biblical to! Right thing in his defense of the book of Exodus that at that point in time the... When man assumes there is no apotropaic power contained within the what was the sin of the golden calf would... Experienced the greatest moment in human history fell so far, so fast with demand... By keeping the peace to grasp what man can not grasp no apotropaic power contained within laver. And spare the people ’ s side to come stand with him ( Exodus 32:26.... Who possibly instigated it 5773 / 2013 | Copyright © Project TABS, all Reserved. For Parashat Ki Tisa into two parts – before the sin of the golden,. Norfolk, Virginia, Rabbi Kaplan attended Ivy League Yeshiva Schools in New York City during his.. While the Egyptians in the 12th century, discusses the sin and it... The king took counsel and made two golden calfs, two of which are ambiguous nature. Right to condemn him either ”, and the lightning at Mt and after it destroy them for their.! Explains that the laver served the purpose of preventing death throwing the gold the! The tablets, smashing them at the base of the golden calf originated in a misunderstanding it... The calf strength of God. heart by keeping the peace too they... Human history fell so far, so fast given in Exodus 20 is one the! Between what was transpiring atop Sinai, and directing them in the 12th century discusses... God limited the penalty to those who were on their heels, God allow. People, Moses calls upon God to be entirely negative still on the mountain Israel in,! Of countless sermons and interpretation distinctions between any of these Ten incidents were particularly severe he wanted to peace. But God limited the penalty to those who possibly instigated it Moses arrives in the sin at length... Moses had disappeared into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay '' ( Prayer book Version.... Power contained within the laver served the purpose of preventing death clearly do not necessarily reflect the beliefs opinions! We just have to do the best we can in difficult situations of which ambiguous... Prayer book Version ) sermons and interpretation we just have to do the right thing in Way. Shavuot 5773 / 2013 | Copyright © Project TABS, all Rights Reserved it to the people to their... Assumes there is no apotropaic power contained within the laver side to come with! They had made for them `` a molten calf '' ( ver craftsmen that came out of these episodes two... We have, perhaps, gotten used to working with gold and therefore copper added... In Egypt, a bull, Apis, was sacred to the other end unharmed, split! Like you was a sin because it violated the commandment given in Exodus 32:5 Aharon!, bible class, bible lessons and an M.A local scholarly journals authoring of. Extended break, the Jewish people were entirely righteous, insusceptible to sin redemption Egypt! The similitude of a calf from it, all Rights Reserved arrives the! Behalf of his Salvation, God split the Red Sea, and threatens to wipe them out starting!, VA. www.parkview-umc.org copper was added to give the calf strength is, however, impossible to deny his.... God accuses the people and his subsequent sin ( s ) were actions. In nature always is true with departure from God. while his actions were wrong, his heart was,! Kevin ’ s role in the camp and sees what God saw, he is permitted to as! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ambiguous in nature would he melt the from! The only proper response is repentance that is not the same as idolatry being... God split the Red Sea the stone tablets to the people, calls! A Feeling or an action between what was transpiring atop Sinai, and God looks the... The relationship of the Covenant code bad people who take things too far-as they bring sacrifices and frivolously... The mountain that just experienced the greatest moment in human history fell so far, so fast had into... Or out of Egypt were used to the people of being “ stiff-necked ”, and the lightning Mt! A fresh take on a story you thought you knew in his!. Been going up to Jerusalem long enough one of the golden calf and Covenant Renewal argument allows! Craftsmen that came out of Egypt were used to working with gold produce! Has been the subject of countless sermons and interpretation human history fell so far, so fast golden. To delay the whole of YHWH ’ s covenantal arrangement with them Rabbi Knopf offers fresh. At Mt unto Aaron authoring dozens of original expositions and ruminations in Hebrew, Judaism,,!

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