Exodus 32:22
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
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(22-24) Aaron’s conduct was really without excuse; but he attempts two pleas—the first insufficient, the second false and fatuous. (1) The people compelled him; they were “set on mischief;” they made the proposal—they would have it so. (2) He threw the gold into the furnace, and “it came out a calf,” as if he had not ordered the construction of the mould. In Deuteronomy, Moses informs us that Aaron’s whole conduct so angered God that God would have destroyed him but for his own intercession (Deuteronomy 9:20).

32:21-29 Never did any wise man make a more frivolous and foolish excuse than that of Aaron. We must never be drawn into sin by any thing man can say or do to us; for men can but tempt us to sin, they cannot force us. The approach of Moses turned the dancing into trembling. They were exposed to shame by their sin. The course Moses took to roll away this reproach, was, not by concealing the sin, or putting any false colour upon it, but by punishing it. The Levites were to slay the ringleaders in this wickedness; yet none were executed but those who openly stood forth. Those are marked for ruin who persist in sin: those who in the morning were shouting and dancing, before night were dying. Such sudden changes do the judgments of the Lord sometimes make with sinners that are secure and jovial in their sin.Aaron's reference to the character of the people, and his manner of stating what he had done Exodus 5:24, are very characteristic of the deprecating language of a weak mind.22. And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot—Aaron cuts a poor figure, making a shuffling excuse and betraying more dread of the anger of Moses than of the Lord (compare De 9:20). Heb. are in evil, i.e. are altogether wicked, addicted to, or bent upon wickedness, so that it was impossible for me to stop or divert their course.

And Aaron said, let not the anger of my lord wax hot,.... He addresses him in a very respectful manner, though his younger brother, being in a superior office, the chief ruler of the people, king in Jeshurun; and he perceived a violent emotion rising in him, great indignation in his countenance, and an high resentment of what was done, and therefore he entreats his patience to hear him, in a few words, what he had to say, and he begins with the well known character of the people:

thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief; or are "in wickedness" (q); wholly in it, and under the power and influence of it, given up to it, and bent upon it; and there was no restraining them from it; and he appeals to the knowledge of Moses himself for the truth of this, of which their several murmurings against him, since they came out of Egypt, were a proof; see 1 John 5:19.

(q) "in malo", Montanus, Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
22. Aaron first excuses himself by casting the blame upon the people: they are set on evil, and he merely (v. 33) responded to their request.

my lord] as Numbers 11:28; Numbers 12:11.

Verse 22. - Let not the anger of my lord wax hot. Aaron's humility is extreme, and the result of a consciousness of guilt. He nowhere else addresses Moses as "my lord." Set on mischief. Or "inclined to evil" (Kalisch). Exodus 32:22After the calf had been destroyed, Moses called Aaron to account. "What has this people done to thee ("done" in a bad sense, as in Genesis 27:45; Exodus 13:11), that thou hast brought a great sin upon it?" Even if Aaron had merely acted from weakness in carrying out the will of the people, he was the most to blame, for not having resisted the urgent entreaty of the people firmly and with strong faith, and even at the cost of his life. Consequently he could think of nothing better than the pitiful subterfuge, "Be not angry, my lord (he addresses Moses in this way on account of his office, and because of his anger, cf. Numbers 12:11): thou knowest the people, that it is in wickedness" (cf. 1 John 5:19), and the admission that he had been overcome by the urgency of the people, and had thrown the gold they handed him into the fire, and that this calf had come out (Exodus 32:22-24), as if the image had come out of its own accord, without his intention or will. This excuse was so contemptible that Moses did not think it worthy of a reply, at the same time, as he told the people afterwards (Deuteronomy 9:20), he averted the great wrath of the Lord from him through his intercession.
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