Now that the 40 days were finished, it was time for Moshe to come down the mountain. It was the 17th day of the month of Tammuz, and Moshe, holding the two Luchos, came down wishing that this was only a bad dream and indeed, Bnei Yisrael had not sinned.
When Moshe came down, he was met by his loyal student, Yehoshua, who had pitched his tent at the foot of the mountain and had been waiting there faithfully for the past 40 days – waiting for Moshe to come down from the mountain. Yehoshua was totally unaware what was going on in the Jewish camp, but he heard a lot of noise and said to Moshe, “I hear sounds of battle in the camp!”
Moshe replied, “I am sorry to say, Yehoshua. It is not the triumphant sound of the victor, nor the painful sound of the defeated, rather it is the sound of blasphemy and cursing.”
Moshe and Yehoshua walked closer and closer, and the sound got louder and louder. Now Moshe knew it was true. He witnessed his people dancing and singing as they circled around the Golden Calf.
SMASH!! – Moshe threw the two Luchos to the ground, and they shattered to tiny pieces.
That captured everyone’s attention very quickly. They stopped their dancing and looked up at Moshe, feeling startled and ashamed.
“How can you have done this terrible sin?!” Moshe cried out angrily.
Moshe then grabbed the Golden Calf, threw it into the fire, and it melted into a big lump of gold. He then crushed the gold into a fine powder and mixed the powder with water.
“Drink from this water, and I mean everyone!” Moshe exclaimed.
Every single person drank this water, and miraculously, the water determined their fate. Anyone guilty of serving the Golden Calf died after they drank the water. And all those who were innocent, were treated to a nice refreshing golden drink.