The People Make an Idol To Worship
32 After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron told them, “Bring me the gold earrings that your wives and sons and daughters are wearing.” 3 Everybody took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, 4 then he melted them and made an idol in the shape of a young bull.
All the people said to one another, “This is the god who brought us out of Egypt!”
5 When Aaron saw what was happening, he built an altar in front of the idol and said, “Tomorrow we will celebrate in honor of the Lord.” 6 The people got up early the next morning and killed some animals to be used for sacrifices and others to be eaten. Then everyone ate and drank so much that they began to carry on like wild people.
7 The Lord said to Moses:
Hurry back down! Those people you led out of Egypt are acting like fools. 8 They have already stopped obeying me and have made themselves an idol in the shape of a young bull. They have bowed down to it, offered sacrifices, and said that it is the god who brought them out of Egypt. 9 Moses, I have seen how stubborn these people are, 10 and I’m angry enough to destroy them, so don’t try to stop me. But I will make your descendants into a great nation.
11 Moses tried to get the Lord God to change his mind:
Our Lord, you used your mighty power to bring these people out of Egypt. Now don’t become angry and destroy them. 12 If you do, the Egyptians will say that you brought your people out here into the mountains just to get rid of them. Please don’t be angry with your people. Don’t destroy them!
13 Remember the solemn promise you made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You promised that someday they would have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and that you would give them land.
14 So even though the Lord had threatened to destroy the people, he changed his mind and let them live.
15-16 Moses went back down the mountain with the two flat stones on which God had written all of his laws with his own hand, and he had used both sides of the stones.
17 When Joshua heard the noisy shouts of the people, he said to Moses, “A battle must be going on down in the camp.”
18 But Moses replied, “It doesn’t sound like they are shouting because they have won or lost a battle. They are singing wildly!”
19 As Moses got closer to the camp, he saw the idol, and he also saw the people dancing around. This made him so angry that he threw down the stones and broke them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 He melted the idol the people had made, and he ground it into powder. He scattered it in their water and made them drink it. 21 Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to harm you? Why did you make them sin in this terrible way?”
22 Aaron answered:
Don’t be angry with me. You know as well as I do that they are determined to do evil. 23 They even told me, “That man Moses led us out of Egypt, but now we don’t know what has happened to him. Make us a god to lead us.” 24 Then I asked them to bring me their gold earrings. They took them off and gave them to me. I threw the gold into a fire, and out came this bull.
25 Moses knew that the people were out of control and that it was Aaron’s fault. And now they had made fools of themselves in front of their enemies. 26 So Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Everyone who is on the Lord’s side come over here!”
Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, 27 and he said to them, “The Lord God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.”
28 The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about three thousand men. 29 Moses said to them, “You obeyed the Lord and did what was right, and so you will serve as his priests for the people of Israel. It was hard for you to kill your own sons and brothers, but the Lord has blessed you and made you his priests today.”
30 The next day Moses told the people, “This is a terrible thing you have done. But I will go back to the Lord to see if I can do something to keep this sin from being held against you.”
31 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “The people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a gold idol to be their god. 32 But I beg you to forgive them. If you don’t, please wipe my name out of your book.”[a]
33 The Lord replied, “I will wipe out of my book the name of everyone who has sinned against me. 34 Now take my people to the place I told you about, and my angel will lead you. But when the time comes, I will punish them for this sin.”
35 So the Lord punished the people of Israel with a terrible disease for talking Aaron into making the gold idol.
The Lord Tells Israel To Leave Mount Sinai
33 The Lord said to Moses:
You led the people of Israel out of Egypt. Now get ready to lead them to the land I promised their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 2-3 It is a land rich with milk and honey, and I will send an angel to force out those people who live there—the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. I would go with my people, but they are so rebellious that I would destroy them before they get there.
4-5 Even before the Lord said these harsh things, he had told Moses, “These people really are rebellious, and I would kill them at once, if I went with them. But tell them to take off their fancy jewelry, then I’ll decide what to do with them.” So the people started mourning, 6 and after leaving Mount Sinai,[b] they stopped wearing fancy jewelry.
The Lord Is with His People
7 Moses used to set up a tent far from camp. He called it the “meeting tent,” and whoever needed some message from the Lord would go there. 8 Each time Moses went out to the tent, everyone would stand at the entrance to their own tents and watch him enter. 9-11 Then they would bow down because a thick cloud would come down in front of the tent, and the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, just like a friend. Afterwards, Moses would return to camp, but his young assistant Joshua[c] would stay at the tent.
The Lord Promises To Be with His People
12 Moses said to the Lord, “I know that you have told me to lead these people to the land you promised them. But you have not told me who my assistant will be. You have said that you are my friend and that you are pleased with me. 13 If this is true, let me know what your plans are, then I can obey and continue to please you. And don’t forget that you have chosen this nation to be your own.”
14 The Lord said, “I will go with you and give you peace.”
15 Then Moses replied, “If you aren’t going with us, please don’t make us leave this place. 16 But if you do go with us, everyone will know that you are pleased with your people and with me. That way, we will be different from the rest of the people on earth.”
17 So the Lord told him, “I will do what you have asked, because I am your friend and I am pleased with you.”
18 Then Moses said, “I pray that you will let me see you in all of your glory.”
19 The Lord answered:
All right. I am the Lord, and I show mercy and kindness to anyone I choose. I will let you see my glory and hear my holy name, 20 but I won’t let you see my face, because anyone who sees my face will die. 21 There is a rock not far from me. Stand beside it, 22 and before I pass by in all of my shining glory, I will put you in a large crack in the rock. I will cover your eyes with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back. You will not see my face.
- 32.32 your book: The people of Israel believed that the Lord kept a record of the names of his people, and anyone whose name was removed from that book no longer belonged to the Lord.
- 33.6 Mount Sinai: The Hebrew text has “Mount Horeb,” another name for Sinai.
- 33.9-11 Joshua: Hebrew “Joshua son of Nun.”
Peter Says He Doesn’t Know Jesus
69 While Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, a servant girl came up to him and said, “You were with Jesus from Galilee.”
70 But in front of everyone Peter said, “That isn’t so! I don’t know what you are talking about!”
71 When Peter had gone out to the gate, another servant girl saw him and said to some people there, “This man was with Jesus from Nazareth.”
72 Again Peter denied it, and this time he swore, “I don’t even know that man!”
73 A little while later some people standing there walked over to Peter and said, “We know that you are one of them. We can tell it because you talk like someone from Galilee.”
74 Peter began to curse and swear, “I don’t know that man!”
Right then a rooster crowed, 75 and Peter remembered that Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter went out and cried hard.
Jesus Is Taken to Pilate
27 Early the next morning all the chief priests and the nation’s leaders met and decided that Jesus should be put to death. 2 They tied him up and led him away to Pilate the governor.
The Death of Judas
3 Judas had betrayed Jesus, but when he learned that Jesus had been sentenced to death, he was sorry for what he had done. He returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and leaders 4 and said, “I have sinned by betraying a man who has never done anything wrong.”
“So what? That’s your problem,” they replied. 5 Judas threw the money into the temple and then went out and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the money and said, “This money was paid to have a man killed. We can’t put it in the temple treasury.” 7 Then they had a meeting and decided to buy a field that belonged to someone who made clay pots. They wanted to use it as a graveyard for foreigners. 8 That’s why people still call that place “Field of Blood.” 9 So the words of the prophet Jeremiah came true,
the thirty silver coins,
the price of a person
among the people of Israel.
10 They paid it
for a potter’s field,[a]
as the Lord
had commanded me.”
Pilate Questions Jesus
11 Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words!” Jesus answered. 12 And when the chief priests and leaders brought their charges against him, he did not say a thing.
13 Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 14 But Jesus did not say anything, and the governor was greatly amazed.
- 27.10 a potter’s field: Perhaps a field owned by someone who made clay pots. But it may have been a field where potters came to get clay or to make pots or to throw away their broken pieces of pottery.
Sing Praises to the Lord
33 You are the Lord’s people.
Obey him and celebrate!
He deserves your praise.
2 Praise the Lord with harps!
Use harps with ten strings
to make music for him.
3 Sing a new song. Shout!
Play beautiful music.
4 The Lord is truthful;
he can be trusted.
5 He loves justice and fairness,
and he is kind to everyone
everywhere on earth.
6 The Lord made the heavens
and everything in them
by his word.
7 He scooped up the ocean
and stored the water.
8 Everyone in this world
9 As soon as he spoke
the world was created;
at his command,
the earth was formed.
10 The Lord destroys the plans
and spoils the schemes
of the nations.
11 But what the Lord has planned
will stand forever.
His thoughts never change.
33 Listen carefully
to my instructions,
and you will be wise.
34 Come to my home each day
and listen to me.
You will find happiness.
35 By finding me, you find life,
and the Lord will be pleased
36 But if you don’t find me,
you hurt only yourself,
and if you hate me,
you are in love with death.