Exodus 32:2
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And Aaron said . . . Break off the golden earrings.—It is a reasonable conjecture that Aaron thought to prevent the projected idolatry by this requirement. Not having the courage to meet the demand of the people with a direct negative, he may have aimed at diverting them from their purpose by requiring a sacrifice which they would be unwilling to make, viz., the personal ornaments of their wives and children. The women might reasonably have been expected to resist, and the men to yield before such resistance; but the event proved otherwise.

Your sons.—Earrings are worn in the East almost as much by men as by women. Most Assyrian and some Egyptian monarchs are represented with them.

Exodus 32:2. Break off the golden ear-rings — These were probably some of the jewels which they had of the Egyptians. From the ears of your sons — Men wore these ornaments in the eastern countries as well as the women, Jdg 8:24. Some suppose that when Aaron gave this direction he did it with a design to crush the proposal, believing, that if their covetousness did not hinder them from giving up their ear-rings, their pride, at least, would prevent their parting with them. He says, therefore, Which are in the ears of your wives and daughters — Thinking them most fond of their jewels, and most unlikely to part with them.

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 stubbornness 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.Break off the golden earrings - It has been very generally held from early times, that Aaron did not willingly lend himself to the mad design of the multitude; but that, overcome by their importunity, he asked them to give up such possessions as he knew they would not willingly part with, in the hope of putting a check on them. Assuming this to have been his purpose, he took a wrong measure of their fanaticism, for all the people made the sacrifice at once Exodus 32:3. His weakness, in any case, was unpardonable and called for the intercession of Moses Deuteronomy 9:20.2. Aaron said, … Break off … earrings—It was not an Egyptian custom for young men to wear earrings, and the circumstance, therefore, seems to point out "the mixed rabble," who were chiefly foreign slaves, as the ringleaders in this insurrection. In giving direction to break their earrings, Aaron probably calculated on gaining time; or, perhaps, on their covetousness and love of finery proving stronger than their idolatrous propensity. If such were his expectations, they were doomed to signal disappointment. Better to have calmly and earnestly remonstrated with them, or to have preferred duty to expediency, leaving the issue in the hands of Providence. The golden earrings were of good value and common use among the eastern people, who seem to have used them superstitiously, Genesis 35:4 Judges 8:24; and therefore Aaron demands these, partly that he might take away one vice, or occasion of vice, whilst the people were intent upon another; and partly that the proposed loss of their precious earrings might cool their idolatrous desires.

In the ears of your wives, whom he thought most fond of their jewels, and most unlikely to part with them.

And Aaron said unto them,.... Perceiving that they were not to be dissuaded from their evil counsel, and diverted from their purpose, but were determined at all events to have an image made to represent God unto them in a visible manner:

break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters; these were some of the jewels in gold they had borrowed of the Egyptians; and it seems that, in those times and countries, men, as well as women, used to wear earrings, and so Pliny (w) says, in the eastern countries men used to wear gold in their ears; and this may be confirmed from the instance of the Ishmaelites and Midianites, Judges 8:24. Aaron did not ask the men for theirs, but for those of their wives and children; it may be, because he might suppose they were more fond of them, and would not so easily part with them, hoping by this means to have put them off of their design:

and bring them unto me; to make a god of, as they desired, that is, the representation of one.

(w) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37.

And Aaron said unto them, {b} Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

(b) Thinking that they would rather abandon idolatry, than give up their most precious jewels.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. of your sons] earrings are not elsewhere in the OT. described as worn by males (unless indeed, by implication, in Genesis 35:4).

Verse 2. - Break off. "Take off" would perhaps be a better translation. The ear-rings would not require any breaking. They were penannular, and could be removed by a smart pull. Your wives, your sons, and your daughters. See the comment on Exodus 3:22. It is implied that the men did not wear earrings. At an earlier date the household of Jacob, chiefly men, had worn them (Genesis 35:4). Exodus 32:2Aaron also succumbed to the temptation along with the people. Instead of courageously and decidedly opposing their proposal, and raising the despondency of the people into the strength of living faith, by pointing them to the great deeds through which Jehovah had proved Himself to be the faithful covenant God, he hoped to be able to divert them from their design by means of human craftiness. "Tear off the golden ornaments in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me:" this he said in the hope that, by a demand which pressed so heavily upon the vanity of the female sex and its love of display, he might arouse such opposition as would lead the people to desist from their desire. But his cleverness was put to shame. "All the people" tore off their golden ornaments and brought them to him (Exodus 32:3); for their object was not merely "to accomplish an act of pure self-will, in which case there is no sacrifice that the human heart is not ready to make," but to secure a pledge of the protection of God through a visible image of the Deity. The weak-minded Aaron had no other course left than to make (i.e., to cause to be made) an image of God for the people.
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