One of the many interpretational challenges with the accounts of the Golden Calf Incident (Exod. 32) concerns who engaged in the idolatry that took place. A close examination of Exodus 32:7-14 in the GCI account in Exodus 32 proves that God regarded the people who engaged in the GCI as His people.
First, and interestingly, God speaks of the people who participated in the GCI as Moses’ people whom he (Moses) brought out of Egypt:
Exodus 32:7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
God said that He was going to consume the people that Moses brought out of Egypt and make of Moses a great nation.
Moses then responded to God by saying to God that the people against whom God’s wrath had waxed hot because of the GCI were God’s people that He [God] had brought of Egypt:
Exodus 32:11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
Under inspiration of the Spirit, Moses then as the writer of the book of Exodus said that God repented of the evil that He had thought to do to His people because they had participated in the GCI:
Exodus 32:14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
This inspired divine revelation teaches us that the people whom God was ready to destroy but then relented from destroying them were His (God’s) people. It, therefore, proves that the ones who engaged in the GCI were regarded by God as His people, just as Moses had spoken of them as being God’s people in Exodus 32:11 and 32:12.
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