|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
32:1-6 While Moses was in the mount, receiving the law from God, the people made a tumultuous address to Aaron. This giddy multitude were weary of waiting for the return of Moses. Weariness in waiting betrays to many temptations. The Lord must be waited for till he comes, and waited for though he tarry. Let their readiness to part with their ear-rings to make an idol, shame our niggardliness in the service of the true God. They did not draw back on account of the cost of their idolatry; and shall we grudge the expenses of religion? Aaron produced the shape of an ox or calf, giving it some finish with a graving tool. They offered sacrifice to this idol. Having set up an image before them, and so changed the truth of God into a lie, their sacrifices were abomination. Had they not, only a few days before, in this very place, heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image? Had they not themselves solemnly entered into covenant with God, that they would do all he had said to them, and would be obedient? ch. 24:7. Yet before they stirred from the place where this covenant had been solemnly made, they brake an express command, in defiance of an express threatening. It plainly shows, that the law was no more able to make holy, than it was to justify; by it is the knowledge of sin, but not the cure of sin. Aaron was set apart by the Divine appointment to the office of the priesthood; but he, who had once shamed himself so far as to build an altar to a golden calf, must own himself unworthy of the honour of attending at the altar of God, and indebted to free grace alone for it. Thus pride and boasting were silenced.
Verse 3. - All the people broke off the golden ear-rings. Thus, as is supposed, disappointing Aaron, who had counted on the refusal of the women to part with their finery, and the reluctance of the men to compel them. Had ear-rings been still regarded as amulets (Genesis 1.s.c.) it is not likely that they would have been so readily given up.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And all the people brake off the golden earrings, which were in their ears,.... The men took off their earrings, and persuaded their wives and children, or obliged them to part with theirs; though the Targum of Jonathan says the women refused to give their ornaments to their husbands, therefore all the people immediately broke off all the golden ornaments which were in their ears (x), so intent were they upon idolatry. This is to be understood not of every individual, but of the greatest part of the people; so apostle explains it of some of them, 1 Corinthians 10:7. Idolaters spare no cost nor pains to support their worship, and will strip themselves, their wives, and children, of their ornaments, to deck their idols; which may shame the worshippers of the true God, who are oftentimes too backward to contribute towards the maintenance of his worship and service:
and brought them unto Aaron: presently, the selfsame day; they soon forgot the commands enjoined them to have no other gods, save one, and to make no graven image to bow down to it, and their own words, Exodus 24:7.
(x) So Pirke Eliezer, c. 45.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. all the people brake off the golden earrings—The Egyptian rings, as seen on the monuments, were round massy plates of metal; and as they were rings of this sort the Israelites wore, their size and number must, in the general collection, have produced a large store of the precious metal.
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