While all this was going on at the foot of the mountain, Moshe was still up on top of Har Sinai, receiving the two Luchos from HaShem.
Suddenly, HaShem instructed him, “Go down! Your people are committing a terrible sin! They have made a Golden Calf and are bowing down and offering sacrifices to it!”
When Moshe heard this, he was shocked and very embarrassed.
HaShem continued, “Your nation has very quickly strayed from My path. Only 40 days ago, they received My Torah, and now they have sunk to the lowest depths. But the Jewish nation and the Torah will go on without them. You are worthy, Moshe, and I will start over and make you the leader of a great, new Jewish nation.”
Moshe pleaded with all his heart, “HaShem, Your anger is justified, but please, I am begging, do not destroy Your nation! If you destroy Bnei Yisrael, what would the Egyptians say? ‘You took them out of their land only to kill them here in the desert?!’ Please, do not be angry! Forgive them!”
Moshe continued, “HaShem Almighty! Remember what You said to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. You promised that their descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky and they would inherit the Land of Israel. DO NOT WIPE THEM OUT!”
Moshe prayed and prayed. He did not give up. Finally HaShem agreed not to destroy His people, but… He still did not completely forgive them.