Most of us know the story well: Moses follows God’s commands and ascends Mt. Sinai amid smoke and thunder, to receive the Ten Commandments, to be carved out of solid stone by God, using a fingertip of lightning. Moses appoints Aaron, his brother and the High Priest, to supervise the Israelites during his absence. But Aaron is a poor classroom monitor, as I like to say, and he gives the fearful, misbehaving Israelites free rein to do as they wish—and they disobey God’s express command, using a large amount of their Egyptian gold and silver to build a Golden Calf, despite being expressly forbidden to perform idol worship.
Why did the Israelites build the Golden Calf? Barely three months had passed since God freed Israel from slavery, in the course of which they beheld the most extraordinary miracles and wonders: the Ten Plagues, the Splitting of the Reed Sea, and now the thunderous, magnificent descent of God onto Mt. Sinai, certainly not the […]