And Moses said to Aaron, What did this people to you, that you have brought so great a sin on them?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee ?—The second step was to inquire how the idolatry came about; and here Moses very reasonably addressed himself to Aaron. Aaron had been left in charge of the people (Exodus 24:14), to advise them, direct them, control them, if necessary. How had he acquitted himself of this charge? He had allowed the people to commit a great sin. What excuse could he offer for his conduct? Had the people injured him in any way? The question is asked ironically.Exodus 32:21. What did this people unto thee? — He takes it for granted that it must needs be something more than ordinary that prevailed with Aaron to do such a thing. Did they overcome thee by importunity, and hadst thou so little resolution as to yield to popular clamour? Did they threaten to stone thee, and couldest not thou have opposed God’s threatenings to theirs?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). Exodus 32:1, by his counsel, and by the authority which Moses had left in his hand, which he should have done even with the hazard of his life, as the rabbins say that Hur did, whom they report to have been slain by the people whilst he dissuaded them from their attempt, and because he did not promote, and direct, and manage their enterprise, Exodus 32:4,5.
what did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? as idolatry is, than which no sin can be greater, it being not only a breach of the first table of the law, but directly against God, against the very being of God, and his honour and glory; it is a denial of him, and setting up an idol in his room, and giving to that the glory that is only due to his name; and Aaron being the chief magistrate, whose business it was to see that the laws of God were observed, and to restrain the people from sin, and to have been a terror to evil doers; yet falling in with them, and conniving at them, he is charged with bringing sin upon them, or them into that; and is asked what the people had done to him, that he should do this to them, what offence they had given him, what injury they had done him, that he bore them a grudge for it, and took this method to be revenged? for it is suggested, had they used him ever so ill, he could not have requited it in a stronger manner than by leading them into such a sin, the consequence of which must be ruin and destruction, see Genesis 20:9 or else Moses inquires of Aaron what methods the people had made use of to prevail upon him to suffer them to do such a piece of wickedness; whether it was by persuasion and artful insinuations, or by threatening to take away his life if he did not comply, or in what manner they had wrought upon his weak side, to induce him to take such a step.And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21–24. Aaron, taken to task by Moses for what has occurred, makes excuses.Verses 21-24. - AARON TRIES TO EXCUSE HIMSELF. Having taken the needful steps for the destruction of the idol, Moses naturally turned upon Aaron. He had been left in charge of the people, to guide them, instruct them, counsel them in difficulties (Exodus 24:14). How had he acquitted himself of his task? He had led the people into a great sin - had at any rate connived at it - assisted in it. Moses therefore asks, "What had the people done to him, that he should so act? How had they injured him, that he should so greatly injure them?" To this he has no direct reply. But he will not acknowledge himself in fault - he must excuse himself. And his excuse is twofold: -
1. It was the people's fault, not his; they were "set on mischief."
2. It was a fatality - he threw the gold into the fire, and "it came out this calf." We are not surprised, after this, to read in Deuteronomy, that "the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him," and was only hindered from his purpose by the intercession of Moses Verse 21. - What did this people unto thee? Moses does not suppose that the people had really done anything to Aaron. He asks the question as a reproach - they had done nothing to thee - had in no way injured thee - and yet thou broughtest this evil upon them. So great a sin. Literally, "a great sin" - the sin of idolatry. If Aaron had offered a strenuous opposition from the first, the idolatry might not have taken place - the people might have been brought to a better mind. Exodus 31:18), and came to Joshua on the mountain (see at ch. Joshua 24:13), the latter heard the shouting of the people (lit., the voice of the people in its noise, רעה for רעו, from רע noise, tumult), and took it to be the noise of war; but Moses said (Exodus 32:18), "It is not the sound of the answering of power, nor the sound of the answering of weakness," i.e., they are not such sounds as you hear in the heat of battle from the strong (the conquerors) and the weak (the conquered); "the sound of antiphonal songs I hear." (ענּת is to be understood, both here and in Psalm 88:1, in the same sense as in Exodus 15:21.)
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