I’m at another chapter that tells me that the god being spoken of in this particular book is impotent at most. If he was truly all-knowing and all-good, he would have let the people know that this was going to take a while. Instead Aaron, who should have known exactly what was going on up on the mountain, gives in to the people and makes them a golden calf to worship because for some weird reason the people need to worship something. God, who could have stopped this before it started, instead tells Moses to get down there and do something about it.
Let us not forget that in one of the earliest commandments, Chapter 20, verse 5, God says that he is jealous and is not putting up with those shenanigans (I might have paraphrased). So naturally, worshiping something that isn’t God is punishable by death. However, God can once again be bargained with and Moses talks him out of destroying his chosen people. All of this happened before Moses actually went down the mountain with the tablets.
Moses carried the tablets of the commandments down the mountain and when he saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, he threw the tablets down and reduced the calf to powder, scattered it on the water, and forced the Israelites to drink it. Then Aaron told him how this all happened because the Bible likes to repeat.
Moses called for the people who were still faithful to God and the sons of Levi answered. I think I should let the Bible tell this part:
27He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’ ” 28The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. 29Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.”Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (pp. 194-195). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
God could have stopped this before it started. He knew what was going on, but he decided to let it play out. It’s stories like this one that convince me that the God of this book (and several others) is a bloodthirsty monster. After the massacre that looked like something out of Shogun Assassin without the baby carriage, Moses goes up the mountain to atone for the people’s sin and God sends a plague on the people and then sends them off to another destination.