1The people saw that a long time had passed and Moses had not come down from the mountain. So the people gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “Look, Moses led us out of the land of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him. So make us some gods to go before us and lead us.” 2Aaron said to the people, “Bring me the gold earrings that belong to your wives, sons, and daughters.” 3So all the people gathered their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4Aaron took the gold from the people. Then he used it to make a statue of a calf. Aaron used a chisel to carve the statue, ˻and then he covered it with gold˼. Then the people said, “Israel, here are your gods! These are the gods that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5Aaron saw all these things. So he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron made an announcement. He said, “Tomorrow will be a special feast to honor the Lord.” 6The people woke up very early the next morning. They killed animals and offered them as burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up and had a wild party. 7At the same time, the Lord said to Moses, “Go down from this mountain. Your people, the people you brought out of the land of Egypt, have done a terrible sin. 8They have very quickly turned away from the things I commanded them to do. They made a calf from melted gold for themselves. They are worshiping that calf and making sacrifices to it. The people have said, 'Israel, these are the gods that led you out of Egypt.’” 9The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen these people. I know that they are very stubborn people. They will always turn against me. 10So now let me destroy them in anger. Then I will make a great nation from you.” 11But Moses begged the Lord his God, “Lord, don’t let your anger destroy your people. You brought these people out of Egypt with your great power and strength. 12˻But if you destroy your people,˼ then the Egyptians can say, 'The Lord planned to do bad things to his people. That is why he led them out of Egypt. He wanted to kill them in the mountains. He wanted to wipe them off the earth.’ So don’t be angry at your people. Please change your mind! Don’t destroy your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel ˻(Jacob)˼. Those men served you. And you used your name to make a promise to them. You said: 'I will make your people as many as the stars in the sky. I will give your people all this land like I promised. This land will be theirs forever.’” 14So the Lord felt sorry ˻for the people˼. The Lord did not do the thing that he said he might do—he did not destroy the people. 15Then Moses went down the mountain. Moses had the two flat stones with the Agreement on them. Those commandments were written on both sides of the stone, front and back. 16God himself had made those stones. And God himself wrote the commandments on those stones. 17˻While going down the mountain, Joshua heard the noise from the party in camp. Joshua said to Moses, “It sounds like war down in the camp!” 18Moses answered, “It is not the noise of an army shouting for victory. And it is not the noise of an army crying from defeat. The noise I hear is the sound of music.” 19Moses came near the camp. He saw the golden calf, and he saw the people dancing. Moses became very angry, and he threw the flat stones on the ground. The stones broke into several pieces at the bottom of the mountain. 20Then Moses destroyed the calf that the people had made. He melted it in the fire. Then he ground the gold until it became dust. And he threw the dust in the water. He forced the people of Israel to drink that water. 21Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you? Why did you lead them to do such a bad sin?” 22Aaron answered, “Don’t be angry, sir. You know that these people are always ready to do wrong. 23The people said to me, 'Moses led us out of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him. So make us some gods to lead us.’ 24So I told the people, 'If you have any gold rings, then give them to me.’ The people gave me their gold. I threw the gold into the fire, and out of the fire came this calf!” 25Moses saw that Aaron had let the people lose control. The people were being wild, and all their enemies could see them acting like fools. 26So Moses stood at the entrance to the camp. Moses said, “Any person who wants to follow the Lord should come to me.” And all the people from the family of Levi ran to Moses. 27Then Moses said to them, “I will tell you what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Every man must get his sword and go from one end of the camp to the other. ˻You must punish these people, even if˼ each man must kill his brother, friends, and neighbors.’” 28The people from the family of Levi obeyed Moses. That day about 3,000 of the people of Israel died. 29Then Moses said, “The Lord has chosen you today to be the people who will bless your sons and brothers.” 30The next morning Moses told the people, “You have done a terrible sin! But now I will go up to the Lord, and maybe I can do something so he will forgive you for your sin.” 31So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Please listen! These people did a very bad sin and made a god from gold. 32Now, forgive them of this sin! If you will not forgive them, then erase my name from the book you have written.” 33But the Lord said to Moses, “The only people that I erase from my book are the people who sin against me. 34So now, go down and lead the people where I tell you. My angel will go before you and lead you. When the time comes to punish the people who sinned, then they will be punished.” 35So the Lord caused a terrible sickness to come to the people. He did this because they told Aaron to make the golden calf.