Exodus 32:6
And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
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(6) They rose up early.—Impatient to begin the new worship, the people rose with the dawn, and brought offerings, and offered sacrifice. Whether Aaron took part in these acts—which constituted the actual worship of the idol—is left doubtful.

Burnt offerings, and . . . peace offerings.—Sacrifices of both kinds were pre-Mosaical, not first originated by the Law, though deriving confirmation from it. Offerings of both kinds are noticed in Genesis 4:3-4; Exodus 18:12.

The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.A feast always followed a sacrifice (see Exodus 18:12; Exodus 24:5; Exodus 24:11). In feasting therefore upon what they had offered, the Israelites did no wrong; but probably they indulged themselves in a license of feasting unsuited to a religious act, though common enough in the idol-festivals of the heathen. They “fed without fear” (Jude 1:12), transgressed the bounds of moderation, and turned what should have been a religious rite into an orgy. Then, having gratified their appetites and stimulated their passions, they ceased to eat and drink, and “rose up to play.” The “play” included dancing of an indecent kind (Exodus 32:19; Exodus 32:25), and would probably have terminated, as the heathen orgies too often did, in the grossest sensualism, had not the descent of Moses from Sinai, and his appearance on the scene, put a stop to the unhallowed doings.

Exodus 32:6. They rose up early — To show their zeal they began betimes in the morning, and seem not to have stayed for Aaron; and offered burnt- offerings, &c. — To this new-made image of Deity. And the people sat down to eat and drink — Of the remainder of what was sacrificed; and then rose up to play — To play the fool, to play the wanton. It was strange that any of the people, especially so great a number of them, should do such a thing. Had they not, but the other day, 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?” Yet they made a calf in Horeb, the very place where the law was given! It was especially strange that Aaron should be so deeply concerned, should make the calf, and proclaim the feast! Is this “Aaron the saint of the Lord?” Is this he that had not only seen, but had been employed in summoning the plagues of Egypt, and the judgments executed upon the gods of the Egyptians? What! and yet himself copying out the abandoned idolatries of Egypt? How true is it, that “the law made them priests which had infirmity, and needed first to offer for their own sins!”

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.The sense approved by most modern critics is: and he received the gold at their hand and collected it in a bag and made it a molten calf. The Israelites must have been familiar with the ox-worship of the Egyptians; perhaps many of them had witnessed the rites of Mnevis at Heliopolis, almost; on the borders of the land of Goshen, and they could not have been unacquainted with the more famous rites of Apis at Memphis. It is expressly said that they yielded to the idolatry of Egypt while they were in bondage Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 23:3, Ezekiel 23:8; and this is in keeping with the earliest Jewish tradition (Philo). In the next verse, Aaron appears to speak of the calf as if it was a representative of Yahweh - "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord." The Israelites did not, it should be noted, worship a living Mnevis, or Apis, having a proper name, but only the golden type of the animal. The mystical notions connected with the ox by the Egyptian priests may have possessed their minds, and, when expressed in this modified and less gross manner, may have been applied to the Lord, who had really delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Their sin then lay, not in their adopting another god, but in their pretending to worship a visible symbol of Him whom no symbol could represent. The close connection between the calves of Jeroboam and this calf is shown by the repetition of the formula, "which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" 1 Kings 12:28.

These be thy gods - This is thy god. See Exodus 32:1 note.

5, 6. Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to the Lord—a remarkable circumstance, strongly confirmatory of the view that they had not renounced the worship of Jehovah, but in accordance with Egyptian notions, had formed an image with which they had been familiar, to be the visible symbol of the divine presence. But there seems to have been much of the revelry that marked the feasts of the heathen. Brought peace-offerings, but no sin-offerings, which they most needed.

The people sat down to eat and to drink; for the sacrifices were accompanied with feasting, both among the worshippers of the true God, and among idolaters. See Exodus 18:12 24:11.

Rose up to play, by shouting, and singing, and dancing, as it appears from Exodus 32:17-19

And they rose up early in the morning,.... Being eager of, and intent upon their idol worship:

and offered burnt offerings; upon the altar Aaron had made, where they were wholly consumed:

and brought peace offerings: which were to make a feast to the Lord, and of which they partook:

and the people sat down to eat and to drink; as at a feast:

and rose up to play; to dance and sing, as was wont to be done by the Egyptians in the worship of their Apis or Ox; and Philo the Jew says (f), of the Israelites, that having made a golden ox, in imitation of the Egyptian Typho, he should have said Osiris, for Typho was hated by the Egyptians, being the enemy of Osiris; they sung and danced: the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem interpret it of idolatry; some understand this of their lewdness and uncleanness, committing fornication as in the worship of Peor, taking the word in the same sense as used by Potiphar's wife, Genesis 39:14.

(f) Ut supra, (De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 677.) & de Temulentia, p. 254.

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
6. burnt offerings and peace offerings] Cf. on Exodus 20:24.

to eat and to drink] i.e. to take part in the sacred meal accompanying the peace-offering; cf. on Exodus 18:12.

to play] to amuse themselves, e.g. by singing and dancing, vv. 18, 19. Comp. the quotation in 1 Corinthians 10:7.

Verse 6. - They rose up early on the morrow. The people were like a child with a new toy. They could scarcely sleep for thinking of it. So, as soon as it was day, they left their beds, and hastened to begin the new worship Burnt offerings and peace offerings. It is evident that both of these were customary forms of sacrifice - neither of them first introduced by the Law, which had not - except so far as the "Book of the Covenant" was concerned - been promulgated. Compare Jethro's offerings (Exodus 18:12). The people sat down to eat and drink. A feast almost always followed upon a sacrifice, only certain portions of the victim being commonly burnt, while the rest was consumed by the offerers. See the comment on Exodus 18:12. And rose up to play. This "play" was scarcely of a harmless kind. The sensualism of idol-worship constantly led on to sensuality; and the feasts upon idol-sacrifices terminated in profligate orgies of a nature which cannot be described. See the application of the passage by St. Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:7), and compare verse Exodus 32:25

CHAPTER 32:7-14 Exodus 32:6When Aaron saw it, he built an altar in front of the image, and called aloud to the people, "To-morrow is a feast of Jehovah;" and the people celebrated this feast with burnt-offerings and thank-offerings, with eating and drinking, i.e., with sacrificial meals and sports (צחק), or with loud rejoicing, shouting, antiphonal songs, and dances (cf. Exodus 32:17-19), in the same manner in which the Egyptians celebrated their feast of Apis (Herod. 2, 60, and 3, 27). But this intimation of an Egyptian custom is no proof that the feast was not intended for Jehovah; for joyous sacrificial meals, and even sports and dances, are met with in connection with the legitimate worship of Jehovah (cf. Exodus 15:20-21). Nevertheless the making of the calf, and the sacrificial meals and other ceremonies performed before it, were a shameful apostasy from Jehovah, a practical denial of the inimitable glory of the true God, and a culpable breach of the second commandment of the covenant words (Exodus 20:4), whereby Israel had broken the covenant with the Lord, and fallen back to the heathen customs of Egypt. Aaron also shared the guilt of this transgression, although it was merely out of sinful weakness that he had assented to the proposals of the people and gratified their wishes (cf. Deuteronomy 9:20). He also fell with the people, and denied the God who had chosen him, though he himself was unconscious of it, to be His priest, to bear the sins of the people, and to expiate them before Jehovah. The apostasy of the nation became a temptation to him, in which the unfitness of his nature for the office was to be made manifest, in order that he might ever remember this, and not excuse himself from the office, to which the Lord had not called him because of his own worthiness, but purely as an act of unmerited grace.
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