And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount,.... The time, according to the Targum of Jonathan, being elapsed, which he had fixed for his descent, and through a misreckoning, as Jarchi suggests; they taking the day of his going up to be one of the forty days, at the end of which he was to return, whereas he meant forty complete days; but it is not probable that Moses knew himself how long he should stay, and much less that he acquainted them before hand of it; but he staying longer than they supposed he would, they grew uneasy and impatient, and wanted to set out in their journey to Canaan, and to have some symbol and representation of deity to go before them:
the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron; who with Hur was left to judge them in the absence of Moses: it was very likely that they had had conferences with him before upon this head, but now they got together in a tumultuous manner, and determined to carry their point against all that he should say to the contrary:
and said unto him, Up; put us off no longer, make no more delay, but arise at once, and set about what has been once and again advised to and importuned:
make us gods which shall go before us; not that they were so very stupid to think, that anything that could be made with hands was really God, or even could have life and breath, and the power of self-motion, or of walking before them; but that something should be made as a symbol and representation of the divine Being, carried before them; for as for the cloud which had hitherto gone before them, from their coming out of Egypt, that had not moved from its place for forty days or more, and seemed to them to be fixed on the mount, and would not depart from it; and therefore they wanted something in the room of it as a token of the divine Presence with them:
for as for this Moses; of whom they speak with great contempt, though he had been the deliverer of them, and had wrought so many miracles in their favour, and had been the instrument of so much good unto them:
the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt; this they own, but do not seem to be very thankful for it:
we wot not what is become of him; they could scarcely believe that he was alive, that it was possible to live so long a time without eating and drinking; or they supposed he was burnt on the mount of flaming fire from before the Lord, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it.