In the previous question about the Golden Calf I thought it was suspicious that neither Moses left the "chain of command" just in case, neither Aharon offered himself as Moses' replacement.

Also, when the people demanded to replace Moses with an idol, nobody wondered how can Moses be replaced with an idol (related "the-realistic-expectations-from-the-golden-calf").

I do not accept the simplistic idea that they were all fouls and idolaters and all they wanted was idolatry.

Why did they think that Moses as the leader of the Jewish people can only be replaced with an idol: was Moses clearly non-human (his face radiated?) or only a non-human could lead the people or only a non-human can mediate between them and G-d?

  • As we’ve discussed before, not all the Jews worshipped, only the Erev Rav, the ones already stooped in idolatry.
    – DonielF
    Feb 24, 2019 at 0:19
  • I remember reading somewhere that in previous generations idols were a big yetzer horah. [Maybe kind of like science is today a religion.]
    – larry909
    Feb 24, 2019 at 3:39

1 Answer 1


Ralbag explains that it was precisely because they made an idol to replace Moses that few people went astray. In fact, he says, that Aaron deliberately did it this way so that the people would see that the golden calf was clearly a man-made object with no divine powers. The people who did "make it a god" were the ones who did not see Aaron making it.

וסבת מיעוט התועים אחריו היתה ראותם כלם העשות העגל על ידי אהרן והיותו צר אותו בחרט זמן ערוך וזה ממה שייסד בלב המבינים מהם שאי אפשר שיהיה לתמונה ההיא כח אלהי כי היא עשויה ביד אדם והוא אשר צייר אותה בחרט והפריד ממנה קצת המתכת כדי שתשלם לצורה ההיא צורה שרצה ואולם אפשר שיטעה בזה מי שלא יראה העשות הצורה על ידי אדם

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