The faithfulness of Moses in the office that had been entrusted to him was now to be put to the test. It was to be made manifest whether he loved his own glory better than he loved the brethren who were under his charge; whether he would prefer that he should himself become the founder of a "great nation," or that the Lord' s promise should be fulfilled in the whole people of Israel. This may have been especially needful for Moses, in consequence of his natural disposition. See Numbers 12:3; and compare Exodus 3:11. With this trial of Moses repeated in a very similar manner Numbers 14:11-23, may be compared the trial of Abraham Gen. 22 and of our Saviour Matthew 4:8-10.
These be thy gods ... have brought - This is thy god, O Israel, who has brought ...
Let me alone - But Moses did not let the Lord alone; he wrestled, as Jacob had done, until, like Jacob, he obtained the blessing Genesis 32:24-29.
This states a fact which was not revealed to Moses until after his second intercession when he had come down from the mountain and witnessed the sin of the people Exodus 32:30-34. He was then assured that the Lord' s love to His ancient people would prevail God is said, in the language of Scripture, to "repent," when His forgiving love is seen by man to blot out the letter of His judgments against sin (II Samuel 24:16; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:10, etc.); or when the sin of man seems to human sight to have disappointed the purposes of grace (Genesis 6:6; I Samuel 15:35, etc.). The awakened conscience is said to "repent," when, having felt its sin, it feels also the divine forgiveness: it is at this crisis that God, according to the language of Scripture, repents toward the sinner. Thus, the repentance of God made known in and through the One true Mediator reciprocates the repentance of the returning sinner, and reveals to him atonement.
Moses does not tell Joshua of the divine communication that had been made to him respecting the apostasy of the people, but only corrects his impression by calling his attention to the kind of noise which they are making.
Though Moses had been prepared by the revelation on the Mount, his righteous indignation was stirred up beyond control when the abomination was before his eyes.
See Deuteronomy 9:21. What is related in this verse must have occupied some time and may have followed the rebuke of Aaron. The act was symbolic, of course. The idol was brought to nothing and the people were made to swallow their own sin (compare Micah 7:13-14).
Aaron' s reference to the character of the people, and his manner of stating what he had done Exodus 5:24, are very characteristic of the deprecating language of a weak mind.
Make us gods - Make us a god.
Naked - Rather unruly, or "licentious" .
Shame among their enemies - Compare Psalms 44:13; Psalms 79:4; Deuteronomy 28:37.
The tribe of Levi, Moses' own tribe, now distinguished itself by immediately returning to its allegiance and obeying the call to fight on the side of Yahweh. We need not doubt that the 3,000 who were slain were those who persisted in resisting Moses. The spirit of the narrative forbids us to conceive that the act of the Levites was anything like an indiscriminate massacre. An amnesty had first been offered to all by the words: "Who is on the Lord' s side?" Those who were forward to draw the sword were directed not to spare their closest relations or friends; but this must plainly have been with an understood qualification as regards the conduct of those who were to be slain. Had it not been so, they who were on the Lord' s side would have had to destroy each other. We need not stumble at the bold, simple way in which the statement is made.
Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord ... - The margin contains the literal rendering. Our version gives the most probable meaning of the Hebrew, and is supported by the best authority. The Levites were to Proverbs themselves in a special way the servants of Yahweh, in anticipation of their formal consecration as ministers of the sanctuary (compare Deuteronomy 10:8), by manifesting a self-sacrificing zeal in carrying out the divine command, even upon their nearest relatives.
Returned unto the Lord - i. e. again he ascended the mountain.
Gods of gold - a god of gold.
For a similar form of expression, in which the conclusion is left to be supplied by the mind of the reader, see Daniel 3:15; Luke 13:9; Luke 19:42; John 6:62; Romans 9:22. For the same thought, see Romans 9:3. It is for such as Moses and Paul to realize, and to dare to utter, their readiness to be wholly sacrificed for the sake of those whom God has entrusted to their love. This expresses the perfected idea of the whole burnt-offering.
Thy book - The figure is taken from the enrolment of the names of citizens. This is its first occurrence in the Scriptures. See the marginal references. and Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5, etc.
Exodus 32:33, Exodus 32:34
Each offender was to suffer for his own sin. Compare Exodus 20:5; Ezekiel 18:4, Ezekiel 18:20. Moses was not to be taken at his word. He was to fulfill his appointed mission of leading on the people toward the land of promise.
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.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Exodus 32:33:
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