Exodus 32:2
And Aaron said to them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me.
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(2) And Aaron said . . . Break off the golden earrings.—It is a reasonable conjecture that Aaron thought to prevent the projected idolatry by this requirement. Not having the courage to meet the demand of the people with a direct negative, he may have aimed at diverting them from their purpose by requiring a sacrifice which they would be unwilling to make, viz., the personal ornaments of their wives and children. The women might reasonably have been expected to resist, and the men to yield before such resistance; but the event proved otherwise.

Your sons.—Earrings are worn in the East almost as much by men as by women. Most Assyrian and some Egyptian monarchs are represented with them.

Exodus 32:2. Break off the golden ear-rings — These were probably some of the jewels which they had of the Egyptians. From the ears of your sons — Men wore these ornaments in the eastern countries as well as the women, Jdg 8:24. Some suppose that when Aaron gave this direction he did it with a design to crush the proposal, believing, that if their covetousness did not hinder them from giving up their ear-rings, their pride, at least, would prevent their parting with them. He says, therefore, Which are in the ears of your wives and daughters — Thinking them most fond of their jewels, and most unlikely to part with them.32:1-6 While Moses was in the mount, receiving the law from God, the people made a tumultuous address to Aaron. This giddy multitude were weary of waiting for the return of Moses. Weariness in waiting betrays to many temptations. The Lord must be waited for till he comes, and waited for though he tarry. Let their readiness to part with their ear-rings to make an idol, shame our niggardliness in the service of the true God. They did not draw back on account of the cost of their idolatry; and shall we grudge the expenses of religion? Aaron produced the shape of an ox or calf, giving it some finish with a graving tool. They offered sacrifice to this idol. Having set up an image before them, and so changed the truth of God into a lie, their sacrifices were abomination. Had they not, only a few days before, in this very place, heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image? Had they not themselves solemnly entered into covenant with God, that they would do all he had said to them, and would be obedient? ch. 24:7. Yet before they stirred from the place where this covenant had been solemnly made, they brake an express command, in defiance of an express threatening. It plainly shows, that the law was no more able to make holy, than it was to justify; by it is the knowledge of sin, but not the cure of sin. Aaron was set apart by the Divine appointment to the office of the priesthood; but he, who had once shamed himself so far as to build an altar to a golden calf, must own himself unworthy of the honour of attending at the altar of God, and indebted to free grace alone for it. Thus pride and boasting were silenced.Break off the golden earrings - It has been very generally held from early times, that Aaron did not willingly lend himself to the mad design of the multitude; but that, overcome by their importunity, he asked them to give up such possessions as he knew they would not willingly part with, in the hope of putting a check on them. Assuming this to have been his purpose, he took a wrong measure of their fanaticism, for all the people made the sacrifice at once Exodus 32:3. His weakness, in any case, was unpardonable and called for the intercession of Moses Deuteronomy 9:20.2. Aaron said, … Break off … earrings—It was not an Egyptian custom for young men to wear earrings, and the circumstance, therefore, seems to point out "the mixed rabble," who were chiefly foreign slaves, as the ringleaders in this insurrection. In giving direction to break their earrings, Aaron probably calculated on gaining time; or, perhaps, on their covetousness and love of finery proving stronger than their idolatrous propensity. If such were his expectations, they were doomed to signal disappointment. Better to have calmly and earnestly remonstrated with them, or to have preferred duty to expediency, leaving the issue in the hands of Providence. The golden earrings were of good value and common use among the eastern people, who seem to have used them superstitiously, Genesis 35:4 Judges 8:24; and therefore Aaron demands these, partly that he might take away one vice, or occasion of vice, whilst the people were intent upon another; and partly that the proposed loss of their precious earrings might cool their idolatrous desires.

In the ears of your wives, whom he thought most fond of their jewels, and most unlikely to part with them. And Aaron said unto them,.... Perceiving that they were not to be dissuaded from their evil counsel, and diverted from their purpose, but were determined at all events to have an image made to represent God unto them in a visible manner:

break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters; these were some of the jewels in gold they had borrowed of the Egyptians; and it seems that, in those times and countries, men, as well as women, used to wear earrings, and so Pliny (w) says, in the eastern countries men used to wear gold in their ears; and this may be confirmed from the instance of the Ishmaelites and Midianites, Judges 8:24. Aaron did not ask the men for theirs, but for those of their wives and children; it may be, because he might suppose they were more fond of them, and would not so easily part with them, hoping by this means to have put them off of their design:

and bring them unto me; to make a god of, as they desired, that is, the representation of one.

(w) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37.

And Aaron said unto them, {b} Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

(b) Thinking that they would rather abandon idolatry, than give up their most precious jewels.

2. of your sons] earrings are not elsewhere in the OT. described as worn by males (unless indeed, by implication, in Genesis 35:4).Verse 2. - Break off. "Take off" would perhaps be a better translation. The ear-rings would not require any breaking. They were penannular, and could be removed by a smart pull. Your wives, your sons, and your daughters. See the comment on Exodus 3:22. It is implied that the men did not wear earrings. At an earlier date the household of Jacob, chiefly men, had worn them (Genesis 35:4). (cf. Exodus 35:2-3). God concludes by enforcing the observance of His Sabbaths in the most solemn manner, repeating the threat of death and extermination in the case of every transgressor. The repetition and further development of this command, which was included already in the decalogue, is quite in its proper place here, inasmuch as the thought might easily have occurred, that it was allowable to omit the keeping of the Sabbath, when the execution of so great a work in honour of Jehovah had been commanded. "My Sabbaths:" by these we are to understand the weekly Sabbaths, not the other sabbatical festivals, since the words which follow apply to the weekly Sabbath alone. This was "a sign between Jehovah and Israel for all generations, to know (i.e., by which Israel might learn) that it was Jehovah who sanctified them," viz., by the sabbatical rest (see at Exodus 20:11). It was therefore a holy thing for Israel (Exodus 31:14), the desecration of which would be followed by the punishment of death, as a breach of the covenant. The kernel of the Sabbath commandment is repeated in Exodus 31:15; the seventh day of the week, however, is not simply designated a "Sabbath," but שׁבּתון שׁבּת "a high Sabbath" (the repetition of the same word, or of an abstract form of the concrete noun, denoting the superlative; see Ges. 113, 2), and "holy to Jehovah" (see at Exodus 16:23). For this reason Israel was to keep it in all future generations, i.e., to observe it as an eternal covenant (Exodus 31:16), as in the case of circumcision, since it was to be a sign for ever between Jehovah and the children of Israel (Ezekiel 20:20). The eternal duration of this sign was involved in the signification of the sabbatical rest, which is pointed out in Exodus 20:11, and reaches forward into eternity.
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