G-d talks to Moses: ….
Look what your people have done ….
Let me destroy them ——
Moses talks to G-d: ….
What will the Egyptians say ….
If you destroy them?———
As the people dance around the Golden Calf, both G-d and Moses seem ready to abandon them.
First, G-d tells Moses, “your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” (Ex 32:7). Is this the same G-d who reminds us repeatedly that “I am Adonai your G-d who brought you out of Egypt.”? It sounds like a parent telling his or her partner, “Let me tell you what your daughter did today.”
Then, Moses (sort of) comes to the defense of the recently freed slaves, telling G-d, ” Therefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, for an evil intent did G-d bring them out, to slay them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of earth? ” (Ex 32:12). Does the fate of the people only matter to the extent their destruction would allow the Egyptians to deny G-d’s greatness?
Moses wins the argument, but as he descends the mountain his emotions mirror those G-d expressed earlier. “Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.” (Ex 32:19). Moses asks “Who is on G-d’s side?” (Ex 32:26) and after calling the Levites to the sword, ” the Levites did according to the word of Moses, and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” (Ex 32:28)