The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 32

Exo 32:1

13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num 11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without cause are soon given cause to murmur.

Exo 32: Parallel to Joh 3:31-36 (per WGos 100,101).

MOSES WAS SO LONG IN COMING DOWN: "My lord delayeth his coming" (Luk 12:45).

MAKE US GODS: "Make us a king" (1Sa 8:5).

WHO WILL GO BEFORE US: In place of the pillars of cloud and fire (Exo 13:21).

"Only 40 days earlier all Israel had gathered at the base of Mt Sinai, prepared and ready to hear the words God would speak to them. God spoke to them from on the mountain and he gave them the Ten Commandments. The first two of the Ten Commandments were, 'You shall have no other gods before me', and 'You shall not make any idols.' The experience of the voice of God was so awesome to Israel that they begged Moses to speak to the LORD alone because they couldn't bear to hear him again. We would have thought that what they had heard would have been indelibly engraved on their memories after all they had experienced.

"But now, after only 40 days, it seems they had forgotten all that had happened to them. The people got Aaron to make them a god, a calf, which they worshipped as bringing them out of Egypt, breaking the first two to the ten commandments they had so recently heard.

"How long are our memories? Does the Word of God have a lasting effect on us? Will the lessons of a Bible School or a good Bible study stay with us for more than a month? Let us continually refresh our memories by constantly turning to God's word so that we will not forget what we have heard" (RP).

Exo 32:2

The support of a false religion, demanding outlay of great wealth. (Cp temple with buying and selling and money-changing.)

Exo 32:3

EARRINGS: Sym betrothal (ie to God): Gen 24:47; Hos 2:13; Eze 16:12.

Exo 32:4

IN THE SHAPE OF A CALF... THESE ARE YOUR GODS: Was the calf a conscious imitation of one figure of the cherubim?

CALF: Joseph is associated with bull calf, with grain above head, because he saved Egypt (Gen 41:45n). Joseph promises Jews would eventually leave Egypt (Gen 50:24n). His bones were carried up out of Egypt (Exo 13:19). Joseph came to be worshiped by an ungodly, superstitious nation, who desired a greater hero than Moses.

Exo 32:7

HAVE BECOME CORRUPT: "Have corrupted themselves" (AV); or "me" (cp Deu 4:14-19).

Exo 32:18

NOT THE SOUND OF VICTORY.. .OF DEFEAT: But it was "war", war against God!

THE SOUND OF SINGING: Moses recognizes the hollow, heated song of Egyptian idolatry.

Exo 32:19

HE THREW THE TABLETS OUT OF HIS HANDS, BREAKING THEM TO PIECES AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN: "What we need today is not anger, but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry, especially at somebody else's sins; but it's not easy to look at sin, our own included, and weep over it" (WW Wiersbe).

Exo 32:24

AND OUT CAME THIS CALF!: Such a great understatement! Note the weakness and futility of Aaronic priesthood: its dependence on external symbols.

Exo 32:30

Vv 30-33: Where the prophets of Israel witnessed against the spiritual abuses among their contemporaries they did so while still continuing full fellowship with those whom they denounced. More than this, the examples of Moses (Exo 32:30-33), Daniel (Dan 9:5-14), Nehemiah (Neh 1:6,7), Jeremiah (Jer 3:25; 9:1), and Ezra (Ezr 9:6,7,13) show these men intimately associated with the people whom they reprimanded, even so far as confessing the sins of the nation as though they were their own. Here is the spirit of true fellowship, or sharing, by which those most exercised against error bear the burdens of their brethren, and strive with them as partners -- not outsiders -- to defeat the enervating effects of sin.

Exo 32:32

Moses acts as intercessor for the whole nation. Cp Jesus ("Father, forgive them"); Rom 9:1-3; Jer 9:1; Joh 12:48.

PLEASE FORGIVE THEIR SIN: "If thou wilt forgive their sin" (AV). 'If thou wilt forgive, then I will... (give something in return? But I can give nothing)...' A better-than-Moses was needed to insure forgiveness of sins: the prophet like Moses (Deu 18:15-18).

THE BOOK YOU HAVE WRITTEN: "The figure of a book of remembrance runs through the Scripture. It is a figure, for the Eternal God neither changes nor forgets. But the thought is full of comfort for those who fear God. The earliest reference is in the words of Moses when with self-effacing love for the people for whom he was mediator, he pleaded that God should blot out their sin -- and if not, that he should be blotted out of the book which God had written. In the Messianic Psalm (Psa 69) the persecutors are to be blotted out of the book of life, and not written with the righteous (Psa 69:28). Isaiah speaks of some 'written among the living in Jerusalem' (Isa 4:3). Daniel anticipates the use of the phrase in the Apocalypse when he speaks about the deliverance of 'those found written in the book' (Dan 12:1; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 21:27; 22:19). The Lord himself refers to men's names written in heaven as the ground for their greatest joy (Luk 10:20); while Paul thinks of his fellow-labourers 'whose names are in the book of life' (Phi 4:3)" (PAE 206,207).

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