As we walk towards the finale of the epic tale of Exodus, Moses is dragging gigantic slabs of rock down a mountain, the tablets having been inscribed by the Finger of God Himself with every rule He could think of.
Meanwhile, at base camp:
“Hey Aaron, we were all just wondering,” a nervous looking Israelite was fidgeting as he spoke. “Moses has been gone for like… Weeks. Do you suppose he just made all of that God stuff up? And I mean… Like… Now, I am just spitballing here… We need to have gods. We can’t live without them. Now, since he made that God up, we don’t want to believe in Him any more. What say you make up a god for us?”
Aaron looked thoughtful. “You know what? You’re right, he probably made it all up and isn’t coming back. Gather up all that gold we stole from the Egyptians, let’s melt it down and make us a god.”
Aaron collected all of the gold and jewelery from the Israelites and melted it into a cast he apparently had handy of a calf. From it he made a golden calf.
“There you go, Israelites! Against all evidence, and ignoring the fact that I obviously just made this calf in front of you a few minutes ago, this is the god that rescued us from Egypt!” Aaron flung his arms wide in a gesture indicating the glory of the golden calf. (Seriously, Exodus 32:1-4)
“And since this is our new god, let’s offer it some burnt sacrifices! Since we aren’t following Moses’ stupid God that he totally made up any more, these bulls aren’t doing anything useful anyway!” So they made an altar in front of the calf and sacrificed some stuff to it, because why not?
Then, for the first time in 40 days, the omniscient God looked down the mountain that Moses was slowly descending. “Oh what the hell! You’ve been up here for what? A few weeks? They said they’d worship me forever out of fear! How could they turn so quickly? I am going to smite them so hard”
Moses let the gigantic slabs fall to the ground, and spun on God. “Oh no you don’t. No. You don’t get to ruin my life, then mess with my family and me for over forty years then just smite them. You put so much effort into saving them, why would you waste that? And you promised Abraham that his descendants would number as the stars, and what would everyone say if God just went around breaking promises?”
“Uuuuuugggghhhhhhhhhh. Fine. But you just wait until I tell you the new rules. Those slabs you are carrying down the mountain? Those will practically be invisible beside the paper it will take to write out my new rules.” God crossed His arms in a huff and wandered off to smite something that Moses wouldn’t complain about. He mumbled as He turned “Stupid people don’t realize the amount of awesome they are constantly rejecting.”
Moses turned around and dragged the slabs to near the bottom of the Mountain when he saw that everyone was celebrating in front of a golden calf, just like God had said. Realizing that the Israelites were completely undermining all of his effort, he got so angry that he threw the tablets down the mountain, shattering them that God Himself had written. “Oh, oh, oh hohoho. You know what? I am going to smite some of these idiots myself. I am tired of this crap!”
Moses ran the rest of the way down the mountain, through the people, and poured oil all over the golden calf. He then started the calf on fire, and kicked it over and it smashed (as gold is wont to do) then made the Israelites powder the statue and he shouted “You drink it! YOU DRINK YOUR SHAME! IDIOTS! And you, Aaron! What the hell, man? YOU’VE TALKED TO GOD YOURSELF! You know how He is! What did they do to you, that you actually made this god for them?!”
“Well,” Aaron was staring at his shoes and drinking his burning gold-oil water. “They asked me to make a god, so like… What was I gonna do? Say no? So I made them a god. Well, really, it made itself. You know. With magic. It’s kind of hard to explain.” (Exodus 32:22-24)
Moses was struck dumb momentarily, and Aaron thought he could actually see something break in Moses. Moses turned around and walked to the altar of the Golden Calf. He turned and looked at the people, all in rapt silence looking at him.
“Whoever believes in God, come over here.” Only one group followed him, the Levites.
“Ok, so God wanted to smite everyone, and I thought, you know… How bad could it be? But you know what? This is stupid. This is all stupid. So grab some swords, and kill all of the Israelites in the valley except the Levites. Just… Smite them. As hard as you can. Maybe seeing some wanton destruction in His name will keep God from smiting some random tribe.” The Levites grabbed swords from the armory, and like a giant living lawnmower they killed everyone, their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who were not of the tribe of Levi.
As this wanton destruction happened, Moses climbed back up Mount Sinai to talk to God.
“Hey Moses, saw what you did back there. I like it. I like your style. Hey, though, just for good measure I am going to strike all of the Israelites with a plague, so they remember how awesome and merciful I am. Should put the fear back into them, too. It worked so well last time!”
Moses just shrugged and said “Sounds good.”
Good looked at Moses with something that could have been concern, but probably wasn’t. “Hey buddy, you ok?”
“M’fine. Go plague some stuff. I have to go rethink my life.”
“Cool, cool. Oh, by the way, you may be my chosen people, or whatever, but I’m done helping you directly. Seriously, I have almost killed all of you so many times, I’ve just decided to be hands off going forward. You guys don’t deserve to be in my awesome presence anyway.” And for the first time in forty years, Moses felt a sliver of hope that he may yet know something like happiness in his life.
“Oh, but before I go, we have to remake those slabs you broke. I mean, I could put them back together… But I’d prefer if you came back up Mount Sinai. Don’t worry, I’ll still do the writing, but you have to make the slabs. Bring them up the mountain with you tomorrow! That’ll cheer you up!”
Moses had regrets about ever having been optimistic, but the next day chiseled out some slabs of stone and dragged them up the mountain.
When Moses got to the top, God was waiting. “Heeey buddy! Have I mentioned how awesome and merciful and compassionate and slow to anger I am lately? Because I am all of those things. But if you break even one of my rules, I swear upon my own name, I will send you to hell, and your kids to hell, and their kids to hell, and their kids’ kids to hell. COMPASSION! Am I doing this right?” (Seriously. Exodus 34:6. In fact, I think I made it make God sound even more merciful than the Bible version does.)
“Anyway, as part of how merciful and compassionate I am, I feel like now is the time to remind you to go to the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and kill them. Kill them so dead. Like… Turbo dead. Is that a thing? Turbo death? I feel like I should make that a thing. Man, I’m awesome. Turbo-death. So awesome. Hey, I just remembered. When was the last time you had a seven day long party in my name? You should do that. Do that each time you annihilate an entire people in my name. Just so I know you know how awesome I am. AND NO YEAST (Yup, came up again, Exodus 34:25). I hate yeast. It is so… So not awesome. Also, don’t know if I mentioned this recently, but make sure not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. That’s important. (Exodus 34:26)
“Anyway, stone slabs are ready. Get dragging. Also, I turned you into a nightlight; isn’t that hilarious? You should probably wear a veil for the rest of your life, or people will make fun of you for glowing. (Exodus 34:33) Have fun, you rascals!”
Moses dragged the slabs down the mountain, and showed them to the Israelites. He also made sure that the Israelites built the box God wanted, and set up a tent with the patterns exactly how God wanted them, because even though God is slow to anger, Moses knew that God would smite them all if the patterns weren’t exactly right. After all of the work was right, Moses made sure to inspect every inch of every piece of the box and of the tent and of the furniture in the tent, before even telling God that it was done. And when he was done inspecting, he inspected again, because he was not going to bargain for the lives of 2 million people again, especially when they didn’t deserve it, and when he himself had ordered thousands of them smited.
For the rest of eternity, the Israelites were blessed with the opportunity to carry a box weighing thousands of pounds with them wherever they went.
What a nice story, am I right?!