|וַיַּ֣רְא הָעָ֔ם כִּֽי־בֹשֵׁ֥שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה לָרֶ֣דֶת מִן־הָהָ֑ר |
וַיִּקָּהֵ֨ל הָעָ֜ם עַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ אֵלָיו֙ ק֣וּם ׀ עֲשֵׂה־לָ֣נוּ אֱלֹהִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר יֵֽלְכוּ֙ לְפָנֵ֔ינוּ כִּי־זֶ֣ה ׀ מֹשֶׁ֣ה הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱלָ֙נוּ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לֹ֥א יָדַ֖עְנוּ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לֽוֹ
|1||And the people saw that Moses was reticent to descend from the hill. |
And the people convened against Aaron, and they said to him, Arise. Make for us a God who will walk before us, for this Moses, the man, who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.
|וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אַהֲרֹ֔ן פָּֽרְקוּ֙ נִזְמֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֔ב אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאָזְנֵ֣י נְשֵׁיכֶ֔ם בְּנֵיכֶ֖ם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶ֑ם |
|2||And Aaron said to them, Rend the golden earrings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, |
and come to me.
|וַיִּתְפָּֽרְקוּ֙ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם אֶת־נִזְמֵ֥י הַזָּהָ֖ב אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּאָזְנֵיהֶ֑ם |
|3||And all the people rent the golden earrings that were in their ears, |
and they came to Aaron.
|וַיִּקַּ֣ח מִיָּדָ֗ם וַיָּ֤צַר אֹתוֹ֙ בַּחֶ֔רֶט וַֽיַּעֲשֵׂ֖הוּ עֵ֣גֶל מַסֵּכָ֑ה |
וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱל֖וּךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם
|4||And he took from their hand, and fashioned them with an engraver, and he made a calf, a molten image. |
And they said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
|וַיַּ֣רְא אַהֲרֹ֔ן וַיִּ֥בֶן מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לְפָנָ֑יו |
וַיִּקְרָ֤א אַֽהֲרֹן֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר חַ֥ג לַיהוָ֖ה מָחָֽר
|5||And Aaron saw, and built an altar before it, |
and Aaron called, and he said, The feast to Yahweh, tomorrow.
|וַיַּשְׁכִּ֙ימוּ֙ מִֽמָּחֳרָ֔ת וַיַּעֲל֣וּ עֹלֹ֔ת וַיַּגִּ֖שׁוּ שְׁלָמִ֑ים |
וַיֵּ֤שֶׁב הָעָם֙ לֶֽאֱכֹ֣ל וְשָׁת֔וֹ וַיָּקֻ֖מוּ לְצַחֵֽק
|6||And they rose up early on the morrow, and they offered up a burnt offering, and they made overture with peace offerings, |
and the people sat down to eat and imbibe, and arose to make sport.
|וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה |
לֶךְ־רֵ֕ד כִּ֚י שִׁחֵ֣ת עַמְּךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱלֵ֖יתָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם
|7||And Yahweh spoke to Moses, |
Go. Descend, for your people have impaired themselves, that you have brought up from the land of Egypt.
|סָ֣רוּ מַהֵ֗ר מִן־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתִ֔ם עָשׂ֣וּ לָהֶ֔ם עֵ֖גֶל מַסֵּכָ֑ה |
וַיִּשְׁתַּֽחֲווּ־לוֹ֙ וַיִּזְבְּחוּ־ל֔וֹ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶֽעֱל֖וּךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם
|8||B||They have turned aside swiftly from the way that you commanded. They made for themselves a calf, a molten image, |
and will worship it, and they offered to it, and they said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
|וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה |
רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֖רֶף הֽוּא
|9||And Yahweh said to Moses, |
I have seen this people, and behold, a people of intransigent scruff it is.
|וְעַתָּה֙ הַנִּ֣יחָה לִּ֔י וְיִֽחַר־אַפִּ֥י בָהֶ֖ם וַאֲכַלֵּ֑ם |
וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה אוֹתְךָ֖ לְג֥וֹי גָּדֽוֹל
|10||So now leave me, and let my anger burn in them, and I will consume them, |
and I will make you a great nation.
|וַיְחַ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־פְּנֵ֖י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֑יו |
וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לָמָ֤ה יְהוָה֙ יֶחֱרֶ֤ה אַפְּךָ֙ בְּעַמֶּ֔ךָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הוֹצֵ֙אתָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּכֹ֥חַ גָּד֖וֹל וּבְיָ֥ד חֲזָקָֽה
|11||And Moses entreated before Yahweh, his God, |
and he said, Why, Yahweh, would you let your anger burn in your people that you brought forth from the land of Egypt in great power and with a courageous hand?
|לָמָּה֩ יֹאמְר֨וּ מִצְרַ֜יִם לֵאמֹ֗ר בְּרָעָ֤ה הֽוֹצִיאָם֙ לַהֲרֹ֤ג אֹתָם֙ בֶּֽהָרִ֔ים וּ֨לְכַלֹּתָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה |
שׁ֚וּב מֵחֲר֣וֹן אַפֶּ֔ךָ וְהִנָּחֵ֥ם עַל־הָרָעָ֖ה לְעַמֶּֽךָ
|12||Why should Egypt say, saying, With evil intent he brought them out to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from off the surface of the ground? |
Turn from your fierce anger and be comforted, against the evil for your people.
|זְכֹ֡ר לְאַבְרָהָם֩ לְיִצְחָ֨ק וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל עֲבָדֶ֗יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֣עְתָּ לָהֶם֮ בָּךְ֒ וַתְּדַבֵּ֣ר אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אַרְבֶּה֙ אֶֽת־זַרְעֲכֶ֔ם כְּכוֹכְבֵ֖י הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם |
וְכָל־הָאָ֨רֶץ הַזֹּ֜את אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָמַ֗רְתִּי אֶתֵּן֙ לְזַרְעֲכֶ֔ם וְנָחֲל֖וּ לְעֹלָֽם
|13||Remember, to Abraham, to Yitschaq, and to Israel, your servants, that you swore to them in you, and you spoke to them, I will increase your seed as the stars of the heavens, |
and all this land that I promised, I will give to your seed and they will inherit forever.
|וַיִּנָּ֖חֶם יְהוָ֑ה |
עַל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת לְעַמּֽוֹ
|14||And Yahweh sighed, |
over the evil that he spoke to do to his people.
|וַיִּ֜פֶן וַיֵּ֤רֶד מֹשֶׁה֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וּשְׁנֵ֛י לֻחֹ֥ת הָעֵדֻ֖ת בְּיָד֑וֹ |
לֻחֹ֗ת כְּתֻבִים֙ מִשְּׁנֵ֣י עֶבְרֵיהֶ֔ם מִזֶּ֥ה וּמִזֶּ֖ה הֵ֥ם כְּתֻבִֽים
|15||And Moses faced about and descended from the hill, and the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, |
tablets written from both their transferals, from this or from that, they are written.
|וְהַ֨לֻּחֹ֔ת מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים הֵ֑מָּה |
וְהַמִּכְתָּ֗ב מִכְתַּ֤ב אֱלֹהִים֙ ה֔וּא חָר֖וּת עַל־הַלֻּחֹֽת
|16||For the tablets were made by God, themselves, |
and the writing was the writing of God himself, impressed upon the tablets.
|וַיִּשְׁמַ֧ע יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶת־ק֥וֹל הָעָ֖ם בְּרֵעֹ֑ה |
וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה ק֥וֹל מִלְחָמָ֖ה בַּֽמַּחֲנֶה
|17||When Joshua heard the voice of the people in jubilation, |
he said to Moses, The voice is from war in the camp.
|וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֵ֥ין קוֹל֙ עֲנ֣וֹת גְּבוּרָ֔ה וְאֵ֥ין ק֖וֹל עֲנ֣וֹת חֲלוּשָׁ֑ה |
ק֣וֹל עַנּ֔וֹת אָנֹכִ֖י שֹׁמֵֽעַ
|18||And he said, There is no voice of an answer to valour, and there is no voice of an answer to being vanquished. |
The voice of affliction is what I am hearing.
|וַֽיְהִ֗י כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר קָרַב֙ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הָעֵ֖גֶל וּמְחֹלֹ֑ת |
וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ מִיָּדָיו֙ אֶת־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת וַיְשַׁבֵּ֥ר אֹתָ֖ם תַּ֥חַת הָהָֽר
|19||And it happened that as he came near to the camp, and he saw the calf, and the dance, |
then the anger of Moses burned, and he flung from his hands the tablets, and he broke them on the lower part of the hill.
|וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־הָעֵ֨גֶל אֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשׂוּ֙ וַיִּשְׂרֹ֣ף בָּאֵ֔שׁ וַיִּטְחַ֖ן עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁר־דָּ֑ק |
וַיִּ֙זֶר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הַמַּ֔יִם וַיַּ֖שְׁקְ אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
|20||And he took the calf that they had made, and he incinerated in the fire, and he ground until it was stamped out, |
and he sifted it on the face of the waters, and made the children of Israel drink.
|וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן מֶֽה־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה |
כִּֽי־הֵבֵ֥אתָ עָלָ֖יו חֲטָאָ֥ה גְדֹלָֽה
|21||And Moses said to Aaron, What did this people do to you, |
that you brought upon them great sin?
|וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַהֲרֹ֔ן אַל־יִ֥חַר אַ֖ף אֲדֹנִ֑י |
אַתָּה֙ יָדַ֣עְתָּ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י בְרָ֖ע הֽוּא
|22||And Aaron said, Do not let the anger of my Lord burn. Yourself, you know the people, that they are into evil.||3e||4B||13|
|וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ לִ֔י עֲשֵׂה־לָ֣נוּ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֵלְכ֖וּ לְפָנֵ֑ינוּ |
כִּי־זֶ֣ה ׀ מֹשֶׁ֣ה הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱלָ֙נוּ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לֹ֥א יָדַ֖עְנוּ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לֽוֹ
|23||And they said to me, Make for us a God who will walk before us, |
for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.
|וָאֹמַ֤ר לָהֶם֙ לְמִ֣י זָהָ֔ב הִתְפָּרָ֖קוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ־לִ֑י |
וָאַשְׁלִכֵ֣הוּ בָאֵ֔שׁ וַיֵּצֵ֖א הָעֵ֥גֶל הַזֶּֽה
|24||And I said to them, To whom is gold, let them rend it and give it to me. |
And I cast it in the fire and out came this calf.
|וַיַּ֤רְא מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י פָרֻ֖עַ ה֑וּא |
כִּֽי־פְרָעֹ֣ה אַהֲרֹ֔ן לְשִׁמְצָ֖ה בְּקָמֵיהֶֽם
|25||And Moses saw the people, that they were negligent, |
for Aaron was negligent to their detriment, from those arising against them.
|וַיַּעֲמֹ֤ד מֹשֶׁה֙ בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מִ֥י לַיהוָ֖ה אֵלָ֑י |
וַיֵּאָסְפ֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו כָּל־בְּנֵ֥י לֵוִֽי
|26||And Moses stood at the gate of the camp, and he said, Who is for Yahweh, my God? |
And gathered to himself all the children of Levi.
|וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שִׂ֥ימוּ אִישׁ־חַרְבּ֖וֹ עַל־יְרֵכ֑וֹ |
עִבְר֨וּ וָשׁ֜וּבוּ מִשַּׁ֤עַר לָשַׁ֙עַר֙ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְהִרְג֧וּ אִֽישׁ־אֶת־אָחִ֛יו וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֖הוּ וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־קְרֹבֽוֹ
|27||And he said to them, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, Set in place each his sword on his thigh, |
and cross and turn from gate to gate in the camp, and slay each his kin, and each his associate, and each within him.
|וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ בְנֵֽי־לֵוִ֖י כִּדְבַ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֑ה |
וַיִּפֹּ֤ל מִן־הָעָם֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא כִּשְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת אַלְפֵ֖י אִֽישׁ
|28||And the children of Levi did as Moses spoke, |
and there fell from the people in that day, about three thousand persons.
|וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֗ה מִלְא֨וּ יֶדְכֶ֤ם הַיּוֹם֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה כִּ֛י אִ֥ישׁ בִּבְנ֖וֹ וּבְאָחִ֑יו |
וְלָתֵ֧ת עֲלֵיכֶ֛ם הַיּ֖וֹם בְּרָכָֽה
|29||And Moses said, Fill your hands today for Yahweh, if each in its child, and in its kin, |
that he may give upon you, today, a blessing.
|וַיְהִי֙ מִֽמָּחֳרָ֔ת וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם אַתֶּ֥ם חֲטָאתֶ֖ם חֲטָאָ֣ה גְדֹלָ֑ה |
וְעַתָּה֙ אֶֽעֱלֶ֣ה אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה אוּלַ֥י אֲכַפְּרָ֖ה בְּעַ֥ד חַטַּאתְכֶֽם
|30||And it happened afterwards that Moses said to the people, You, yourselves, have sinned a great sin, |
so now I will ascend to Yahweh. Maybe I will find a cover-price concerning your sin.
|וַיָּ֧שָׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר |
אָ֣נָּ֗א חָטָ֞א הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ חֲטָאָ֣ה גְדֹלָ֔ה וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י זָהָֽב
|31||And Moses returned to Yahweh, and he said, |
I beseech. This people have sinned a great sin, and they made for themselves a God of gold.
|וְעַתָּ֖ה אִם־תִּשָּׂ֣א חַטָּאתָ֑ם |
וְאִם־אַ֕יִן מְחֵ֣נִי נָ֔א מִֽסִּפְרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתָֽבְתָּ
|32||So now, if you will lift up their sin, ... |
but if there is nothing, erase me, please, from your book that you have written.
|וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה |
מִ֚י אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָֽטָא־לִ֔י אֶמְחֶ֖נּוּ מִסִּפְרִֽי
|33||And Yahweh said to Moses, |
Who that has sinned for me, will I erase from my book?
|וְעַתָּ֞ה לֵ֣ךְ ׀ נְחֵ֣ה אֶת־הָעָ֗ם אֶ֤ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֙רְתִּי֙ לָ֔ךְ הִנֵּ֥ה מַלְאָכִ֖י יֵלֵ֣ךְ לְפָנֶ֑יךָ |
וּבְי֣וֹם פָּקְדִ֔י וּפָקַדְתִּ֥י עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם חַטָּאתָֽם
|34||So now, go. Guide the people to that which I spoke about to you. |
Behold, my angel will walk before you, and on the day of my visitation, then I will visit upon them their sin.
|וַיִּגֹּ֥ף יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־הָעָ֑ם |
עַ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשׂ֣וּ אֶת־הָעֵ֔גֶל אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה אַהֲרֹֽן
|35||And Yahweh plagued the people, |
in that they had made the calf that Aaron made.
This story - and it is just that - a stage play - this story raises fundamental issues. But if we take it literally, we will have lost it in its entirety. God is writing a book. It began a long time ago in a far away place...
Was Moses delayed? This word is one of 6 occurrences of the form בשׁשׁ, from a very common root, בושׁ, shame. Delayed is a false gloss? A decision made that you might read and pass over it without thinking. Maybe you could say he was delayed from reticence, but perhaps even from shame, his own shame, his uncertainty of the finger of God on the tablets.
And were the tablets written on both sides? or from two aspects of an encounter, the human and the unknown inspiration of such a human. Did Moses doubt for a moment, or regret not letting Yahweh have his way with the people and start all over again with Moses? Or did the whole process just take too long for anyone's patience?
And what is Aaron's excuse that he would blame the whole people? Giving up? The great priest? And were they naked indeed? Negligent certainly. But it's not ערם. And may we slay kin and associate, or even dead translators? But if we don't slay what is within us, we have no where to stand.
I must read what is there, in spite of all the choices, then I must retreat into analogy for these stories or I am simply left with blood on my hands. Turn me away from the literal, for the letter kills.
I will look at it this way: if there is nothing, then let's be erased from the book. But if there is life four billion years old, then let's even then, take our responsibility not to be stillborn, seriously.
Care for the refugee. Care for the planet. And stop worshiping gold. I can go that far. And be strong enough to slay those who live only 40 light years away from us. (Just in case we become negligent.)
|שִׁמְע֖וּ מוּסָ֥ר וַחֲכָ֗מוּ וְאַל־תִּפְרָֽעוּ||Proverbs 8.33||Hear chastening and be wise, and do not be negligent.|
It should be noted that the issue of corporate reality is plain before us. Did Aaron make the calf or did the people? How can we go forward together within our social structures when we cannot deal with the plagues within us, our prejudices, our dreads, our desires? The answer too is in the text, and perhaps the day of our visitation will be a good one.