John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

22 (Exodus 32:22)

Verse 22

22.And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my Lord wax hot Aaron extenuates his crime as much as He can. The sum, however is, that the people, whom Moses himself knew to be depraved and perverse, had tumultuously assailed him, and compelled him against his will. Now, although the commencement of his address has an appearance of modesty, still the excuse is frivolous. Rightly, indeed, does Aaron, though the elder, submit himself with reverence to his brother; since he acknowledges him as God’s minister, and trembles at his reproof; but it would have been better ingenuously to confess his guilt, than to escape the ignominy of condemnation by subterfuge; for it was the business of the chief to guide the whole body, and to quiet the tumult by authority and firmness; and, if their extravagance had even advanced to madness, rather to die ten times over than to yield such base and servile compliance. But from the close it appears that, whilst in our anxiety for our reputation, we take pains to conceal or excuse our faults, our hypocrisy will at length appear ridiculous. It is obvious that when Aaron says he cast the gold into the fire, and the calf came out, he endeavors, at any rate, to cover the fault, which he cannot altogether efface, by this poor and flimsy tale; but by this childish trifling he only betrays his impudence, so that such stupid confidence does but complete his condemnation. This is the just reward of our ambition, when we take refuge in disguises, and set our hypocrisy against God’s judgment.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible