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THE GOLDEN CALF

 
Bible – Exodus – NRSV
 

32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 2 Aaron said to them, "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a festival to the LORD." 6 They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
7 The LORD said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" 9 The LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation."
11 But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, "O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, 'I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" 14 And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain, carrying the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, written on the front and on the back. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved upon the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is a noise of war in the camp." 18 But he said,
    "It is not the sound made by victors,
    or the sound made by losers;
    it is the sound of revelers that I hear."
19 As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

 

32:25 When Moses saw that the people were running wild (for Aaron had let them run wild, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Who is on the LORD's side? Come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 He said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.'" 28 The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day.

 

32:30 On the next day Moses said to the people, "You have sinned a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." 31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Alas, this people has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will only forgive their sin — but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written." 33 But the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.

34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; see, my angel shall go in front of you. Nevertheless, when the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin."
35 Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf — the one that Aaron made.

The Qur’an – Arberry
 

7:148 And the people of Moses took to them, after him, of their ornaments a Calf -- a mere body that lowed. Did they not see it spoke not to them, neither guided them upon any way? Yet they took it to them, and were evildoers. 149 And when they smote their hands, and saw that they had gone astray, they said, 'If our Lord has not mercy on us, and forgives us not, surely we shall be of the lost.' 150 And when Moses returned to his people, angry and sorrowful, he said, 'Evilly have you done in my place, after me; what, have you outstripped your Lord's commandment?' And he cast down the Tablets, and laid hold of his brother's head, dragging him to him. He said, 'Son of my mother, surely the people have abased me, and well nigh slain me. Make not my enemies to gloat over me, and put me not among the people of the evildoers 151 He said, 'O my Lord, forgive me and my brother and enter us into Thy mercy; Thou art the most merciful of the merciful.' 152 'Surely those who took to themselves the Calf -- anger shall overtake them from their Lord, and abasement in this present life; so We recompense those who are forgers.

153 And those who do evil deeds, then repent thereafter and believe, surely thereafter thy Lord is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.' 154 And when Moses' anger abated in him, he took the Tablets and in the inscription of them was guidance, and mercy unto all those who hold their Lord in awe.

The Qur’an – Arberry
 

20:83'What has sped thee far from thy people, Moses?' 84 'They are upon my tracks,' Moses said. 'I have hastened, Lord, only that I may please Thee.'

85 Said He, 'We have tempted thy people since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan has misled them into error.'

86 Then Moses returned very angry and sorrowful to his people, saying, 'My people, did your Lord not promise a fair promise to you? Did the time of the covenant seem so long to you, or did you desire that anger should alight on you from your Lord, so that you failed in your tryst with me?' 87 'We have not failed in our tryst with thee,' they said, 'of our volition; but we were loaded with fardels, even the ornaments of the people, and we cast them, as the Samaritan also threw them, into the fire.' 88 (Then he brought out for them a Calf, a mere body that lowed; and they said, 'This is your god, and the god of Moses, whom he has forgotten.' 89 What? Did they not see that thing returned no speech unto them, neither had any power to hurt or profit them? 90 Yet Aaron had aforetime said to them, 'My people, you have been tempted by this thing, no more; surety your Lord is the All-merciful; therefore follow me, and obey my commandment!' 91 'We will not cease,' they said, 'to cleave to it, until Moses returns to us.') 92 Moses said, 'What prevented thee, Aaron, when thou sawest them in error, 93 so that thou didst not follow after me? Didst thou then disobey my commandment?'

94 'Son of my mother,' Aaron said, 'take me not by the beard, or the head! I was fearful that thou wouldst say, "Thou hast divided the Children of Israel, and thou hast not observed my word." 95 Moses said, 'And thou, Samaritan, what was thy business?' 96 'I beheld what they beheld not,' he said, 'and I seized a handful of dust from the messenger's track, and cast it into the thing. So my soul prompted me.' 97 'Depart!' said Moses. 'It shall be thine all this life to cry "Untouchable!" And thereafter a tryst awaits thee thou canst not fail to keep Behold thy god, to whom all the day thou wast cleaving! We will surely burn it and scatter its ashes into the sea. 98 Your God is only the One God; there is no god, but He alone who in His knowledge embraces everything.'

 
The Qur’an – Arberry
 

2:51 And when We appointed with Moses forty nights then you took to yourselves the Calf after him and you were evildoers;

52 then We pardoned you after that, that haply you should be thankful. 53 And when We gave to Moses the Book and the Salvation, that haply you should be guided. 54 And when Moses said to his people, 'My people, you have done wrong against yourselves by your taking the Calf; now turn to your Creator and slay one another. That will be better for you in your Creator's sight, and He will turn to you; truly He turns, and is All-compassionate.'

 

2:92 And when they were told, 'Believe in that God has sent down,' they said, 'We believe in what was sent down on us'; and they disbelieve in what is beyond that, yet it is the truth confirming what is with them. Say: 'Why then were you slaying the Prophets of God in former time, if you were believers?' 93 And Moses came to you with the clear signs, then you took to yourselves the Calf after him and you were evildoers. And when We took compact with you, and raised over you the Mount: 'Take forcefully what We have given you and give ear.' They said, 'We hear, and rebel'; and they were made to drink the Calf in their hearts for their unbelief. Say: 'Evil is the thing your faith bids you to, if you are believers.'

 

 

 
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