Exodus 32:19
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
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(19) And the dancing.—Heb., and dances. What Moses saw was “the calf” which had already been mentioned, and “dances” which had not been mentioned, but which were now going on after the usual fashion of idolatrous festivity. Such dancing among Oriental nations was uniformly of a lascivious character. (Comp. Exodus 32:25.)

He cast the tables out of his hands.—Comp. Deuteronomy 9:17. In righteous indignation, but perhaps with some revival of the hot temper which had led him astray in his younger days (Exodus 2:12).

Exodus 32:19. He saw the calf and the dancing, and his anger waxed hot — It is no breach of the law of meekness to show our displeasure at wickedness. Those are angry and sin not, that are angry at sin only. Moses showed himself angry, both by breaking the tables, and burning the calf, that he might, by these expressions of a strong passion, awaken the people to a sense of the greatness of their sin. He broke the tables before their eyes, (as it is Deuteronomy 9:17,) that the sight of it might fill them with confusion when they saw what blessings they had lost. The greatest sign of God’s displeasure against any people is his taking his law from them.

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.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.19. Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands—The arrival of the leader, like the appearance of a specter, arrested the revellers in the midst of their carnival, and his act of righteous indignation when he dashed on the ground the tables of the law, in token that as they had so soon departed from their covenant relation, so God could withdraw the peculiar privileges that He had promised them—that act, together with the rigorous measures that followed, forms one of the most striking scenes recorded in sacred history. Not through rash anger, but by Divine instinct, partly to punish their idolatry with so great a loss, and partly to show that the covenant made between God and them, so much to their advantage, which was contained in those tables, was by their sin broken, and now of none effect, and not to be renewed but by bitter repentance.

And it came to pass, as soon, as he came nigh unto the camp,.... To the bottom of the mountain, and pretty near where the people were encamped:

that he saw the calf, and the dancing; the golden image of the calf, and the people dancing about it, in honour of it, and as glad they had got a symbol and representation of God to go before them; and so the Egyptians did before the golden ox; as Philo says, before observed:

and Moses's anger waxed hot: he fell into a passion of indignation at the sight of such execrable idolatry, though he was so meek a man, and though he had himself expostulated with the Lord why his wrath should wax hot against this people; but, when he saw it with his own eyes he could not contain himself, but his spirit was raised to a very great pitch of anger, and could not forbear showing it in some way or another, and particularly in the following manner:

and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount; of Sinai; at the foot of it: he brought the tables, though he knew what they had done, and no doubt showed them to them, told them what they were, and enlarged on the wonderful condescension and goodness of God in giving them such laws, and writing them with his own hand, engraving them himself on such tables of stone; and then broke them to pieces, to denote that they had broken these laws, and deserved to be broke in pieces and destroyed themselves; and this he did before their eyes, that they might be the more affected with it, and be the more sensible of their loss; and this was not the mere effect of passion, at least a sinful one, but was under the influence and direction of God himself; since we never read he was blamed for this action, though afterwards ordered to make two tables like them: the Jews say (k), this was done on the seventeenth day of Tammuz, which answers to part of June and part of July, and is observed by them as a fast on account of it.

(k) Misn. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 7.

And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
19. the dancing] For dancing at a religious ceremony, see on Exodus 15:20.

Verse 19. - The dancing. Rather "dancing." There is no article; and as the subject had not been mentioned before, the use of the article would have been unmeaning. Dances were a part of the religious ceremonial in most ancient nations. Sometimes they were solemn and grave, like the choric dances of the ancient Dorians, and (probably) that of David in front of the Ark (2 Samuel 6:5-22); sometimes festive and joyous, yet not immodest, like the Pyrrhic and other dances at Sparta, and the dancing of the Salii at Rome; but more often, and especially among the Oriental nations, they were of a loose and lascivious character. In Egypt, the dancers appear to have been professionals of a degraded class, and the dancing itself to have been always sensual and indecent; while in Syria, Asia Minor, and Babylon, dancing was a wild orgy, at once licentious and productive of a species of phrenzy. We must suspect that it was this sort of dancing in which the Israelites were engaged - whence the terrible anger of Moses. He saw idolatry before his eyes, and idolatry with its worst accompaniments. In the extremity of his anger, he cast the tables out of his hands, dashed them violently against the ground, and brake them. For this act he is never reprehended. It is viewed as the natural outcome of a righteous indignation, provoked by the extreme wickedness of the people. We must bear this in mind when we come to consider the justice or injustice of the punishment which he proceeded to inflict on them for their sin (vers. 26-29).

CHAPTER 32:20 Exodus 32:19But when he came nearer to the camp, and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned, and he threw down the tables of the covenant and broke them at the foot of the mountain, as a sign that Israel had broken the covenant.
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