Reading 24/341, Exodus 30-32

[A] The dangers of taking a census should be noted. It will be a theme later. There was a great superstition against counting people in this and other ancient cultures.
[B] The second half is one of the plot sections. There is a great line where the Lord is speaking to Moses and announces that the people have turned to sin. He says, "Go, get down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves!" They were God's people, but when they are naughty they are Moses'.
[C] At that point Moses prays to the Lord to not destroy the people. This is a parallel to Abraham's prayer for Sodom. It is interesting how much religion has developed in 500 years: Moses' prayer is much better and is actually effective.
[D] We had the 10 Commandments in reading 21, but the physical stones are here. Note how the popular image of them is different than the actual description: written on both sides, small enough to be carried and thrown by an old man.
[E] At the end, Aaron lies, Moses has people killed in the name of the Lord. When he was with the Lord, he asked for forgiveness for them. Now he punishes them himself, saying that the Lord has commanded, but we do not see the Lord making any such command.

...Exodus...

“You shall make an altar to burn incense on. You shall make it of acacia wood. Its length shall be a cubit, and its breadth a cubit. It shall be square, and its height shall be two cubits. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, the top of it, and the sides of it all around, and its horns, and you shall make a gold molding around it. You shall make two golden rings for it under its molding; on its two ribs, on its two sides you shall make them, and they shall be places for poles with which to bear it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. You shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the covenant, before the mercy seat that is over the covenant, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn incense of sweet spices on it every morning. When he tends the lamps, he shall burn it. When Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. You shall offer no strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering, and you shall pour no drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once during the year, with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once during the year he shall make atonement for it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “When you take a census of the children of Israel, according to those who are numbered among them, each man shall give a ransom for his soul to the Lord, when you number them, so that there will not be a plague among them when you number them. As each one crosses over to be with the numbered ones, they shall give half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel for an offering to the Lord. Everyone who passes over to those who are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering to the Lord. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the Lord, to make atonement for your souls. You shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tent of meeting, so that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for your souls.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also make a basin of bronze, the base of it also of bronze, in which to wash. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. When they go into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they do not die, and also when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they do not die, and it shall be a statute forever to them, to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Also take fine spices: of liquid myrrh, five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane, two hundred and fifty, and of cassia five hundred, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. You shall make it a holy anointing oil, a perfume blended according to the craft of the perfumer: it shall be a holy anointing oil. You shall use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its base. You shall sanctify them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them shall be holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and sanctify them, that they may minister to me in the priest's office. You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on man's flesh, nor shall you make any like it, according to its composition: it is holy. It shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on a stranger, he shall be cut off from his people.'”

The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, gum resin, and onycha, and galbanum; sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each there shall be an equal weight, and you shall make incense of it, a perfume according to the craft of the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy: and you shall beat some of it very small, and put some of it before the covenant in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be to you most holy. The incense which you shall make, according to its composition you shall not make for yourselves: it shall be to you holy for the Lord. Whoever shall make any like it, to smell like it, shall be cut off from his people.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Behold, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of workmanship. Behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, and in the heart of all who are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat that is on it, all the furniture of the tent, the table and its vessels, the pure lampstand with all its vessels, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its vessels, the basin and its base, the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, the garments of his sons to minister in the priest's office, the anointing oil, and the incense of sweet spices for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, 'Most certainly you shall keep my Sabbaths: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'”

He gave to Moses, when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the covenant, stone tablets, written with God's finger. When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods, which 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." Aaron said to them, "Take off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me." All the people took off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He received what they handed him, and fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it a molten calf, and they said, "These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord." They rose up early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

The Lord spoke to Moses, "Go, get down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves! They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, 'These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.'" The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen these people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people. Now therefore leave me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them, that I may consume them, and I will make of you a great nation." Moses begged the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, that you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'He brought them forth for evil, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the surface of the earth?' Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'" The Lord repented of the evil which he said he would do to his people.

Moses turned, and went down from the mountain, with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, tablets that were written on both their sides, on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is the noise of war in the camp." But he replied, "It is not the voice of those who shout for victory, nor is it the voice of those who cry for defeat, but the noise of those who sing that I hear." It happened, as soon as he came near to the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing, and Moses' anger grew hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them beneath the mountain. He took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Moses said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you have brought a great sin on them?" Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord grow hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, 'Make us gods, which 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.' I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them take it off' so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire and out came this calf." When Moses saw that the people had broken loose, (for Aaron had let them break loose to the derision of their enemies), Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the Lord's side, come to me!" All the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. He said to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Every man put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man kill his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.'" The sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses, and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Moses said, "Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, every man at the cost of his son and his brother, that he may bestow on you a blessing this day."

It happened on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have sinned a great sin. Now I will go up to the Lord. Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." Moses returned to the Lord, and said, "O these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold, yet now, if you will, forgive their sin, and if not, please blot me out of your book which you have written. The Lord said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them." The Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

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