Exodus 32: The Golden Calf

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 54–55


Exodus 24 tells how Moses went up Mount Sinai and communed with the Lord for forty days. Moses consequently received the revelations found in Exodus 25–31. Before Moses went up the mountain, the children of Israel covenanted with God to keep the commandments revealed up to that time through Moses, including the Ten Commandments. As was mentioned earlier, the Israelites’ committing to live the Ten Commandments was important so that they could receive the greater blessing Moses asked the Lord for on Mount Sinai. If the Israelites broke the Ten Commandments, they would lose additional blessings the Lord desired to give them. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.

Understanding the Scriptures

Exodus 32

Fashioned (v. 4)Formed 
Graving (v. 4)Engraving 
Molten (vv. 4, 8)Made of melted metal 
Stiffnecked (v. 9)Proud 
Wrath (vv. 10, 12)Anger 
Consume (vv. 10, 12)Destroy 
Besought (v. 11)Plead with, to ask with great feeling 
Mischief (vv. 12, 22)An evil or bad purpose 
Mastery (v. 18)Victory 
Strawed (v. 20)Spread 
Blot (vv. 32–33)Remove 

Note: Remember to look for changes in the Joseph Smith Translation of this and other chapters.

Exodus 32:26—“Who Is on the Lord’s Side?”

Elder George Albert Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stressed the importance of staying on the Lord’s side: “There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line” (“Our M. I. A.,” Improvement Era, May 1935, 278).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A–C as you study Exodus 32.

Activity A iconDid They Have a Short Memory?

Read Exodus 20:3–6; 24:3; 32:1–6, 8 and answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    Which of the Ten Commandments did the children of Israel break in Exodus 32?

  2. 2.

    Why do you think they did what they did?

Activity B iconApply the Principle

  1. 1.

    In what ways are people today tempted to become impatient with God’s way of doing things and break His commandments?

  2. 2.

    How could this lack of patience be considered worshiping a false god?

Activity C iconLearn about Sin and Repentance

In Exodus 32:19–29, Moses swiftly called the people to repentance. From how Moses acted and what happened, what lessons can we learn about the effects of sin and the requirements of repentance?