VII. Israel’s Apostasy and God’s Renewal of the Covenant

Chapter 32

The Golden Calf. 1When the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for that man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.” 2Aaron replied, “Take off the golden earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4He received their offering, and fashioning it with a tool, made a molten calf. Then they cried out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5On seeing this, Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord.” 6Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought communion sacrifices. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

7Then the Lord said to Moses: Go down at once because your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8They have quickly turned aside from the way I commanded them, making for themselves a molten calf and bowing down to it, sacrificing to it and crying out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 9I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are, continued the Lord to Moses. 10Let me alone, then, that my anger may burn against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.

11But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, “Why, O Lord, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent he brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning wrath; change your mind about punishing your people. 13Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” 14So the Lord changed his mind about the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

15Moses then turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back. 16The tablets were made by God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.” 18But Moses answered,

“It is not the noise of victory,
    it is not the noise of defeat;
    the sound I hear is singing.”

19As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. Then Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. 20Taking the calf they had made, he burned it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the Israelites drink.

21Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you should lead them into a grave sin?” 22Aaron replied, “Do not let my lord be angry. You know how the people are prone to evil. 23They said to me, ‘Make us a god to go before us; as for this man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 24So I told them, ‘Whoever is wearing gold, take it off.’ They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

25Moses saw that the people were running wild because Aaron had lost control—to the secret delight of their foes. 26Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” All the Levites then rallied to him, 27and he told them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Each of you put your sword on your hip! Go back and forth through the camp, from gate to gate, and kill your brothers, your friends, your neighbors!” 28The Levites did as Moses had commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people fell. 29Then Moses said, “Today you are installed as priests for the Lord, for you went against your own sons and brothers, to bring a blessing upon yourselves this day.”

The Atonement. 30On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.” 31So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Ah, this people has committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! 32Now if you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not, then blot me out of the book that you have written.” 33The Lord answered Moses: Only the one who has sinned against me will I blot out of my book. 34Now, go and lead the people where I have told you. See, my angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.

35Thus the Lord struck the people for making the calf, the one that Aaron made.


Chapter 10

Nadab and Abihu. 1Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers and, putting incense on the fire they had set in them, they offered before the Lord unauthorized fire, such as he had not commanded. 2Fire therefore came forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed them, so that they died in the Lord’s presence. 3Moses then said to Aaron, “This is as the Lord said:

Through those near to me I will be sanctified;
    in the sight of all the people I will obtain glory.”

But Aaron said nothing. 4Then Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, with the order, “Come, carry your kinsmen from before the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5So they drew near and carried them by means of their tunics outside the camp, as Moses had commanded.

Conduct of the Priests. 6Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not dishevel your hair or tear your garments, lest you die and bring God’s wrath also on the whole community. While your kindred, the rest of the house of Israel, may mourn for those whom the Lord’s fire has burned up, 7you shall not go beyond the entrance of the tent of meeting, else you shall die; for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” So they did as Moses told them.

8The Lord said to Aaron: 9When you are to go to the tent of meeting, you and your sons are forbidden, by a perpetual statute throughout your generations, to drink any wine or strong drink, lest you die. 10You must be able to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, and between what is clean and what is unclean; 11and you must be able to teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given them through Moses.

The Eating of the Priestly Portions. 12Moses said to Aaron and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the oblations to the Lord, and eat it beside the altar in the form of unleavened cakes, since it is most holy. 13You must eat it in a sacred place because it is your and your sons’ due from the oblations to the Lord; such is the command I have received. 14The brisket of the elevated offering and the leg of the contribution, however, you and your sons and daughters may eat, in a clean place; for these have been assigned to you and your children as your due from the communion sacrifices of the Israelites. 15The leg of the contribution and the brisket of the elevated offering shall be brought in with the oblations of fat to be raised as an elevated offering before the Lord. They shall belong to you and your children as your due forever, as the Lord has commanded.”

16Moses inquired closely about the goat of the purification offering and discovered that it had all been burned. So he was angry with the surviving sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, and said, 17“Why did you not eat the purification offering in the sacred place, since it is most holy? It has been given to you that you might remove the guilt of the community and make atonement for them before the Lord. 18Since its blood was not brought inside the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten the offering in the sanctuary, as I was commanded.” 19Aaron answered Moses, “Even though they presented their purification offering and burnt offering before the Lord today, still this misfortune has befallen me. Had I then eaten of the purification offering today, would it have been pleasing to the Lord?” 20On hearing this, Moses was satisfied.


Chapter 16

Rebellion of Korah. 1Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On, son of Peleth, son of Reuben took 2two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders in the community, members of the council and men of note, and confronted Moses. 3Holding an assembly against Moses and Aaron, they said, “You go too far! The whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst. Why then should you set yourselves over the Lord’s assembly?”

4When Moses heard this, he fell prostrate. 5Then he said to Korah and to all his faction, “May the Lord make known tomorrow morning who belongs to him and who is the holy one and whom he will have draw near to him! The one whom he chooses, he will have draw near to him. 6Do this: take your censers, Korah and all his faction, 7and put fire in them and place incense in them before the Lord tomorrow. He whom the Lord then chooses is the holy one. You Levites go too far!”

8Moses also said to Korah, “Hear, now, you Levites! 9Are you not satisfied that the God of Israel has singled you out from the community of Israel, to have you draw near him to maintain the Lord’s tabernacle, and to attend upon the community and to serve them? 10He has allowed you and your Levite kinsmen with you to approach him, and yet you seek the priesthood too. 11It is therefore against the Lord that you and all your faction are conspiring. As for Aaron, what has he done that you should grumble against him?”

Rebellion of Dathan and Abiram. 12Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, but they answered, “We will not go. 13Are you not satisfied that you have brought us here from a land flowing with milk and honey to have us perish in the wilderness, that now you must also lord it over us? 14Far from bringing us to a land flowing with milk and honey, or giving us fields and vineyards for our inheritance, will you gouge out our eyes? No, we will not go.”

15Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Pay no attention to their offering. I have never taken a single donkey from them, nor have I wronged any one of them.”

Korah. 16Moses said to Korah, “You and all your faction shall appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron too. 17Then each of you take his own censer, put incense in it, and present it before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; and you and Aaron, each with his own censer, do the same.” 18So each of them took their censers, and laying incense on the fire they had put in them, they took their stand by the entrance of the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron. 19Then, when Korah had assembled all the community against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire community, 20and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 21Stand apart from this community, that I may consume them at once. 22But they fell prostrate and exclaimed, “O God, God of the spirits of all living creatures, if one man sins will you be angry with the whole community?” 23The Lord answered Moses: 24Speak to the community and tell them: Withdraw from the area around the tent of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

Punishment of Dathan and Abiram. 25Moses, followed by the elders of Israel, arose and went to Dathan and Abiram. 26Then he spoke to the community, “Move away from the tents of these wicked men and do not touch anything that is theirs: otherwise you too will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27So they withdrew from the area around the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. When Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrance of their tents with their wives, their children, and their little ones, 28Moses said, “This is how you shall know that the Lord sent me to do all I have done, and that it was not of my own devising: 29if these die an ordinary death, merely suffering the fate common to all humanity, the Lord has not sent me. 30But if the Lord makes a chasm, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them with all belonging to them, and they go down alive to Sheol, then you will know that these men have spurned the Lord.” 31No sooner had he finished saying all this than the ground beneath them split open, 32and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their families and all of Korah’s people with all their possessions. 33They went down alive to Sheol with all belonging to them; the earth closed over them, and they disappeared from the assembly. 34But all the Israelites near them fled at their shrieks, saying, “The earth might swallow us too!”

Punishment of Korah. 35And fire from the Lord came forth which consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.

For footnotes and cross references see BibleGateway.com or United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)