We are back to narrative in Exodus which is always preferable to me than the priestly instructions. I like a good story even if it ends in judgment for God's people.
Moses takes a similar role to Abraham in arguing for leniency from God on behalf of the people.
|Revelry still goes on today. I like Aaron's|
excuse: "It just came out as a calf!"
The calf that they molded is an interesting choice. One of the chief gods among the Canaanites was Baal who was a thunder god often symbolized by a bull. Given that the mountain was surrounded by cloud and they heard a crashing thunder, could other people living in the area have told them that this must be Baal?
People in that day believed that gods were regional. They may have thought that God had only limited range and they wanted to ingratiate themselves to the local deities.
God seems emphatic in the people ceasing this behavior. As we see the great violence done to the people, I have to speculate that this may have been a later embellishment by a priestly author that is using their history as a cautionary tale. It seems that following after other gods is a national pastime in the Bible and so an exaggeration as it was written down seems a reasonable conclusion.
What would it mean for us to argue for mercy as Moses does? Which of the people in the world need our intervention? Maybe they need mercy from our wrath rather than God's. What does it mean for us to stand on behalf of the guilty? Is this a Christian value?
Photo by Michael Redman via Flickr.com, used by permission under the Creative Commons license.