"Great Catch of Fish," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Exodus 32:1-14 Commentary
by Sara Koenig
The story of the golden calf in Exodus 32 is one of the most complex and dramatic in the entire Bible.
The Narrative Lectionary ends in the middle of the chapter, and therefore avoids some of the thorny details that come later in the text, such as Moses’ own anger, the Levite’s slaughter of their “brothers, friends and neighbors” (Exodus 32:27) and subsequent ordination, the plague, etc. As it is, however, concluding with verse 14 leaves plenty of questions about the nature of God and God’s relationship with people.
Questions arise in the very first verse, which explains that Moses has “delayed” from coming down the mountain. In Exodus 24:18, it says that Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights, but we are not told if the people knew how long he would be. Additionally, the number forty can be literal and exact, or symbolic and generalized to represent a period of time (see also Genesis 7:4; 1 Samuel 17:16; Jonah 3:4; Matthew 4:2).
The people’s request raises other questions as they ask Aaron to make “elohim.” Most English ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL235: Golden Calf
October 09, 2016
This Narrative Lectionary podcast discusses Exodus 32:1-14, the reading for Oct. 9, 2016.