Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us [a]gods that shall go before us; for 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.”
2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”…And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. Exodus 32, Selected Verses
What short memories they had! The plagues that struck all of Egypt but not them, the pillar of fire by day and of smoke by night, the parted sea, destruction of the Egyptian army, manna every morning, and the smoke, thunder, and lightning atop Sinai right there!
Hathor – human & bovine editions
But Moses took longer than they expected so it was time to move on to another god. Why a calf? After generations in Egypt, they were very familiar with their practice of worshipping cattle, so they went back to what they had known all their lives; Hathor, the Egyptian cow goddess.
God told Moses what was going on back at camp and sent him down. Before Moses got all the way down he could see the golden calf in the distance and hear the sounds of celebration. His first considered act was to break the two stone tablet of the Ten Commandments. He then went completely nuts, burned the thing down to ashes, spread the ashes in the water, and made everyone drink it.
We shouldn’t expect to make an archeological find of a golden calf at the base of Jebel Musa in Saudi Arabia, but Moses does record in Exodus that Aaron made an alter to put it on. There is a large pile of broke slabs of rock in view of the descending route from the top of the mountain. Intact, they would have formed the base of a
Broken altar base
very large alter that could be seen a ways off. for scale, note the fence around it that the Saudis erected to people off it. The size means it would have been a big figure, taking lots of gold. But remember that you had roughly 2 million Jewish slaves taking all the gold from their former slaveholders, so there was plenty on hand.
Impressive evidence on this find are the carvings that can be seen on those stones. They are of Egyptian style cattle and of people holding them up in worship, mirroring ancient Egyptian carvings.
Several carvings seen on the base pieces
Another interesting piece of the carving is several depictions of a person or people worshiping the cow by seemingly supporting it from below.
Compare that to a clear rendition of a typical ancient Egyptian carving of similar activities.
Drawn reproduction of ancient Egyptian carving
But there’s one last image that can be seen on those stone which have many carvings like those shown above. Yes, there are Egyptian-style depictions of the cow goddess, Hathor. But who’s to say that it was necessarily the Israelites who did all of this? Well, what are the odds that you’d find a menorah carved into those same stones?
So far we seem to have a lot of traits in and around the site of Jebel Musa in Saudi Arabia that match the Biblical Mt. Sinai. There are more!
NEXT – A summit meeting with God.