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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Exodus 32

Verses 1-6

The sense approved by most modern critics is: and he received the gold at their hand and collected it in a bag and made it a molten calf. The Israelites must have been familiar with the ox-worship of the Egyptians; perhaps many of them had witnessed the rites of Mnevis at Heliopolis, almost; on the borders of the land of Goshen, and they could not have been unacquainted with the more famous rites of Apis at Memphis. It is expressly said that they yielded to the idolatry of Egypt while they were in bondage Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 23:3, Ezekiel 23:8; and this is in keeping with the earliest Jewish tradition (Philo). In the next verse, Aaron appears to speak of the calf as if it was a representative of Yahweh - “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” The Israelites did not, it should be noted, worship a living Mnevis, or Apis, having a proper name, but only the golden type of the animal. The mystical notions connected with the ox by the Egyptian priests may have possessed their minds, and, when expressed in this modified and less gross manner, may have been applied to the Lord, who had really delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Their sin then lay, not in their adopting another god, but in their pretending to worship a visible symbol of Him whom no symbol could represent. The close connection between the calves of Jeroboam and this calf is shown by the repetition of the formula, “which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” 1 Kings 12:28.

These be thy gods - This is thy god. See Exodus 32:1 note.

Verses 7-35

Mine Angel shall go before thee - See the marginal references and Genesis 12:7.

In the day when I visit ... - Compare Numbers 14:22-24. But though the Lord chastized the individuals, He did not take His blessing from the nation.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 32". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-32.html. 1870.