THE CRIME OF THE CALF AND SINS OF IDOLATRY
A Port Jefferson Station, New York, pastor, Sheila R. Vitale leads Living Epistles Ministries and is well known as a Christian author. Sheila R. Vitale also heads Christ-Centered Kabbalah, which combines the teachings of Lurianic Kabbalah and Christian doctrine. Her offerings at www.christ-centeredkabbalah.org include “The Crime of the Calf,” an exposition of Exodus 32.
In Exodus 32:1-6, Moshe (Moses) takes too long to return to his people from Mount Sinai, where he receives the Ten Commandments. Aharon (Aaron) orders the Israelites to remove their gold earrings and from them creates an idol in the shape of a calf. An altar is created for this calf and offerings are made, followed by revelry.
This constitutes a sin of spiritual and emotional weakness, and false idolatry of leaders. Following Moses’ disappearance, allegiance is transferred to Aaron, due to the Israelites’ negative feelings such as fear and ignorance. This in turn leads them back into sin.
When Moses returns from the mountain of God to the material world, he alerts the people of their terrible sin, and shows the multitudes how they can easily fall into the trap of idolizing their leaders. The creation and worship of idols is equated with spiritual adultery because idols are false gods, so Moses ascends before Jehovah to seek atonement for the crime of the calf. Jehovah's judgment is that a plague will be visited upon a future generation of the people of Israel. But Jehovah's mercy ultimately prevails in the form of an internalized angel which guides the individual Israelite with the same wisdom and personal direction that Moses received from Jehovah when he was the ruling authority over “the generation in the wilderness.”
Pastor Vitale’s extensively footnoted writings offer an informed interpretation of Exodus, Chapter 32, including an alternate translation.