Discoveries at Serabit el-Khadim highlight the biblical account of paganism among the freed Israelites.

Evidence for Worship of the Golden Calf?

Discoveries at Serabit el-Khadim highlight the biblical account of paganism among the freed Israelites.


It’s one of the shocking turns in the biblical account: The Israelites had just been freed from Egypt, having witnessed a staggering series of plagues and miracles culminating in the parting of the Red Sea. Gathering at the base of Mount Sinai, they had heard the commandments delivered by the voice of God, and had covenanted to be His people and obey His laws (Exodus 24). But after Moses ascended the mount to receive the written tablets, the Israelites forged a golden calf and initiated hedonistic worship. Exodus 32:7-8 say:

"And the Lord spoke unto Moses: ‘Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have dealt corruptly; they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said: This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’"

Moses pleaded for God’s mercy upon the people, and raced down the mountainside. "And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing … And when Moses saw that the people were broken loose [or, naked, as the King James Version reads] …" (verse 19, 25). The shocked and furious Moses tore down the statue, and summarily had 3,000 revelers executed.

Many believe the Exodus account is mere myth. (If you’re one of them, watch for our latest issue of Watch Jerusalem magazine—it reveals the large body of evidence thatexists for the Israelites sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus.) But what about this event? Some fascinating remains at the site of Serabit el-Khadim help shed light on this remarkable story.


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