Exodus 32:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

New Living Translation
He took the calf they had made and burned it. Then he ground it into powder, threw it into the water, and forced the people to drink it.

English Standard Version
He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

New American Standard Bible
He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.

King James Bible
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then he took the calf they had made, burned it up, and ground it to powder. He scattered the powder over the surface of the water and forced the Israelites to drink the water.

International Standard Version
He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, and ground it into powder. He scattered it on the water and made the Israelis drink it.

NET Bible
He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, poured it out on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then he took the calf they had made, burned it, ground it into powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he took the calf which they had made and burnt it in the fire and ground it to powder and scattered it upon the waters and made the sons of Israel drink it.

King James 2000 Bible
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

American King James Version
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

American Standard Version
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And laying hold of the calf which they had made, he burnt it, and beat it to powder, which he strowed into water, and gave thereof to the children of Israel to drink.

Darby Bible Translation
And he took the calf that they had made, and burned [it] with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed [it] on the water, and made the children of Israel drink [it].

English Revised Version
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

World English Bible
He took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Young's Literal Translation
and he taketh the calf which they have made, and burneth it with fire, and grindeth until it is small, and scattereth on the face of the waters, and causeth the sons of Israel to drink.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

32:15-20 What a change it is, to come down from the mount of communion with God, to converse with a wicked world. In God we see nothing but what is pure and pleasing; in the world nothing but what is sinful and provoking. That it might appear an idol is nothing in the world, Moses ground the calf to dust. Mixing this powder with their drink, signified that the backslider in heart should be filled with his own ways.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. MOSES DESTROYS THE GOLDEN CALF. The first vengeance which Moses took was upon the idol. It was probably hollow, and possibly of no great size. He might easily break it to pieces and subject the pieces to the action of fire, whereby they would be calcined, and might then be easily reduced to powder. This powder he caused to be mixed with the stream of the brook that flowed from Sinai, so that the Israelites were obliged to swallow with their drink particles of their own idol. Compare the action of Josiah with respect to the "grove" set up in the temple precincts by Manasseh (2 Kings 23:6), which was not identical, but still was similar. It has been suggested that this portion of the narrative is out of proper chronological order; and this may be so far true that the calcining and mixing with the water were at this point commanded rather than executed; but the destruction of the idol would naturally be the first thing which Moses would take in hand, and provide for, before proceeding to anything else. Only when the "abomination" was removed and. its destruction commenced, would he turn his attention to other points. Verse 20. - Burnt it and ground it to powder. Silver and gold subjected for a short time to a white heat, which may be easily produced by bellows, readily calcine, and are then easily crushed to a fine powder. Silver becomes detonating. I am not aware whether the case is the same with gold also. Strawed it - i.e., "sprinkled it." We need not suppose Moses to have done the whole - or even any part - himself. It was enough that he directed it to be done. The water. The article shows some particular water to be meant. We learn from Deuteronomy that it was the water of "the brook that descended out of the mount." Made the children of Israel drink of it. The brook being the only water readily accessible, the Israelites, if they drank at all, were compelled to risk swallowing particles of their "god."

CHAPTER 32:21-24

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire,.... Melted it down into a mass of gold, whereby it lost its form, and had no more the appearance of a calf:

and ground it to powder; but how this was done is not easy to say, whether by beating the mass of gold into thin plates, and then filing them small; for this art has remained unknown; the chemists have boasted of it as only possessed of it; but it seems Moses, learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, had it: however, it is now certain by various experiments, that gold, though a very thick and heavy body, consists of parts which are separable from one another, and to be divided into infinite subtler parts: the famous Dr. Halley has shown that one grain of gold may be divided into 10,000 parts, and yet visible; and Dr. Keil has demonstrated that a cubic thumb's breadth of gold is divisible into 47,619,047 parts, which do not escape the sight: according to the computation of the said Dr. Halley, leaf gold, with which silver threads are gilded, is not thicker than the 124,500 part of a thumb's breadth; so that a cube of the hundredth part of a thumb's breadth of the said subtle parts may contain 243,000,000 (l):

and strawed it upon the water; of the brook that descended out of the mount, Deuteronomy 9:21 now called the fountain of St. Catharine; which Dr. Shaw (m) says, after it has supplied the demands of the convent (now built on this mount) is received without into a large basin, which running over, forms a little rill: and another traveller (n) speaks of a fountain about the middle of Mount Sinai, which, though small, was found in it running water very wholesome and refreshing: but if this was a brook of running water, it seems more likely that water was taken out of it and put into a proper vessel or vessels, on which the powder of the golden calf was strewed; or otherwise it would have been carried away with the stream, and could not have been taken up and given to the people to drink, as is next said; and this shows that it must be reduced to a very small light powder indeed, to float upon the top of the water and not sink to the bottom, as mere filings of gold would necessarily do:

and made the children of Israel drink of it; not the whole body of them, or every individual, but the more principal persons, and such who had been the most active in encouraging the making of the calf, and the worshipping of it: this was done not only that they might entirely lose their gold and have no manner of profit by it, but that the idol, which is nothing in the world, might be brought to nothing indeed, and that there might be no remains of it to be abused to superstitious uses, as well as to show them their folly in worshipping that which could not save itself; and by drinking it, whereby it passed through them and became an excrement, to express the utmost abhorrence and detestation of it; as also to show that they deserved the curse of God to enter into them, as oil into their bowels, as that water did, and be utterly destroyed: the Jewish writers, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, suppose this water, with the powder of the golden calf in it, had the same effect and was for the same use as the water of jealousy, that it made the bellies of those that drank it to swell: and the Targum of Jonathan observes, that whoever gave any golden vessel towards the making of the calf, there was a sign appeared in his countenance: and Aben Ezra suggests the same, but neither of them say what it was: but an ancient Latin poet, quoted by Selden (o), reports from the Hebrew writers, that whoever were guilty of this idolatry, as soon as they drank of the water their beards became yellow as gold, whereby the Levites knew who were guilty, and slew them; but as this is quite fabulous, so I have not met with it in any Jewish writer, only an author of theirs, of great antiquity and credit with them, says (p), that whoever kissed the calf with his whole heart, his lips became golden.

(l) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 247. (m) Travels, p. 242. Ed. 2.((n) Baumgarten. peregrinatio, l. 1. c. 24. p. 61, 62. (o) De Diis Syris Syntagma, 1. c. 4. p. 156. (p) Pirke Eliezer, c. 45.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

20. he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, &c.—It has been supposed that the gold was dissolved by natron or some chemical substance. But there is no mention of solubility here, or in De 9:21; it was "burned in the fire," to cast it into ingots of suitable size for the operations which follow—"grounded to powder"; the powder of malleable metals can be ground so fine as to resemble dust from the wings of a moth or butterfly; and these dust particles will float in water for hours, and in a running stream for days. These operations of grinding were intended to show contempt for such worthless gods, and the Israelites would be made to remember the humiliating lesson by the state of the water they had drunk for a time [Napier]. Others think that as the idolatrous festivals were usually ended with great use of sweet wine, the nauseous draught of the gold dust would be a severe punishment (compare 2Ki 23:6, 15; 2Ch 15:16; 34:7).

Exodus 32:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
Moses Breaks the Tablets
19It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. 20He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it. 21Then Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?"…
Cross References
Exodus 32:21
He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?"

Deuteronomy 7:25
The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 9:21
Also I took that sinful thing of yours, the calf you had made, and burned it in the fire. Then I crushed it and ground it to powder as fine as dust and threw the dust into a stream that flowed down the mountain.

1 Kings 15:13
He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley.

2 Chronicles 34:4
Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.
Treasury of Scripture

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

took the calf. How truly contemptible must the object of their idolatry appear, when they were obliged to drink their god, reduced to powder, and strewed on the water! Some have asked, how gold, the most ductile and ponderous of all metals, could have been stamped into dust, and strewed on the water. In De.

Exodus 9:21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and …

Deuteronomy 7:5,25 But thus shall you deal with them; you shall destroy their altars, …

Deuteronomy 9:21 And I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burnt it with …

2 Kings 23:6,15 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without …

made the

Proverbs 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled …

Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a …

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