The Israelites rebel against God

Ex 32:1-35    While he is away for forty days on Mt Sinai (see Exodus 24:18), the Israelites rebel against Moses. They demand to worship the ancient gods they left behind in Egypt. So Aaron makes a golden image of a young bull and the people offer sacrifices to it.

When Moses returns to the camp with the two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments he is furious. He smashes the tablets and destroys the golden calf, then sends armed Levites into the camp to restore order.

Ex 33:1-23    God instructs Moses to set off for Canaan – the fertile ‘promised land’ flowing with milk and honey. He meets Moses in the ‘Tent of Meeting’, together with his young assistant Joshua.

Ex 34:1-35    Moses ascends Mt.Sinai again and receives two new stone tablets. On his return, Moses’ face is radiant after speaking with God.


Chapel on top of Mt Sinai

Greek Orthodox Chapel at the summit of Mount Sinai  (Mohammed Moussa)


Ex 35-39    Moses receives more instructions on preparing the ‘Tabernacle’, the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ and the priestly garments.

Ex 40:1-38    The ‘Tabernacle’ containing the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ is set up inside the ‘Tent of Meeting’. The LORD’s presence (the ‘Shekinah’) is indicated by a cloud covering the tent. Whenever the cloud lifts from the tent, the Israelites set off and are conscious that God is with them – “So the cloud of the LORD was over the Holy Tent during the day, and there was a fire in the cloud at night” (Exodus 40:38).

Lev 1-27    The Book of Leviticus recounts many further laws and religious practices, including the initiation of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), to be held around the end of September. The sins of the people are to be placed symbolically on the head of a goat by the High Priest. The ‘scapegoat’ is then driven into the desert to take away the sins of the people (see Leviticus 16:5-10 & 20-22).

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