International Standard Version
1When the people saw that Moses took a long time to come down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and told him, "Come here and make us a god who will go before us, because, as for this fellow Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him." 2Aaron told them, "Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me." 3All the people tore off the gold rings that were in their ears and brought them to him. 4He took them from them and, using a tool, fashioned them into a molten calf. The people said, "This, Israel, is your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt." 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it, and then he proclaimed, "Tomorrow is to be a festival to the LORD." 6They got up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. Then the people sat down to eat and drink, and then they got up to play.
7The LORD told Moses, "Go down immediately, because your people whom you led out of Egypt have behaved corruptly. 8They have been quick to turn aside from the way I commanded them, and they have made for themselves a molten calf. They have bowed down to it in worship, they have offered sacrifices to it, and they have said, 'This, Israel, is your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt.'" 9Then the LORD told Moses, "I've seen these people and indeed they're obstinate. 10Now let me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may consume them, but I'll make a great nation of you."
11But Moses implored the LORD his God: "LORD, why are you angry with your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a show of force? 12Why should the Egyptians say, 'He brought them out with an evil intention to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your anger and change your mind about the calamity against your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants to whom you swore by yourself as you told them, 'I'll increase the number of your descendants like the stars of the heavens, I'll give your descendants all of this land about which I have spoken, and they are to possess it forever.'" 14So the LORD changed his mind about the calamity he had said he would bring on his people.
15Then Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two Tablets of the Testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides. They were written on one side and the other. 16The tablets were the work of God and the writing was God's writing, inscribed on the tablets. 17When Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he told Moses, "The sound of war is coming from the camp."
18Moses said, "It is not the sound of a victory shout, and it's not the sound of a shout of defeat, but it's the sound of singing that I hear."
19As Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, he became angry. He threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the base of the mountain. 20He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, and ground it into powder. He scattered it on the water and made the Israelis drink it.
21Then Moses asked Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you brought such great sin upon them?" 22Aaron said, "Sir, don't be angry. You know the people—that they're intent on evil. 23They told me, 'Make a god for us who will go before us because, as for this fellow Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.' 24So I told them, 'Whoever has gold ornaments, tear them off.' When they gave it to me, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."
25When Moses saw that the people were out of control—since Aaron had let them get out of control, something that incited ridicule from their enemies — 26he stood in the gate of the camp and called out: "Whoever is for the LORD come over to me," and all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27He told them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says, 'Every man put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and each of you kill his brother and friend and neighbor.'" 28The descendants of Levi did just as Moses told them, and about 3,000 people died that day. 29Moses said, "You have been ordained to serve the LORD today, and you have brought a blessing on yourselves today because every man opposed his son or brother."
30The next day Moses told the people, "You committed a great sin, and now I'll go up to the LORD, and perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." 31Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Please, LORD, this people committed a great sin by making a god of gold for themselves. 32Now, if you will, forgive their sin—but if not, blot me out of your book which you have written." 33The LORD told Moses, "Whoever sins against me, I'll blot him out of my book. 34Now, go, and lead the people where I told you, and now my angel will go before you, but on the day when I do punish, I'll punish them for their sin." 35Then the LORD sent a plague on the people because they made the calf (the one Aaron made).