When Moses led the Hebrews out of captivity in Egypt, the plan was straightforward.
First, to travel to Mt. Sinai to “serve” the G-d of their forefathers. This trip was only a few days travel.
Then, at Sinai, Moses and the Hebrews were to receive the Torah; a covenant unique to their role, and complimentary to the Noachide Covenant (after the Flood) binding on all of Mankind. This preparation would take forty days.
Thereafter, another eleven days travel would bring them to Canaan, the land promised to Abraham and his descendants, at which Moses would erect the Holy Temple to G-d.
Finally, properly refined and instructed, the Hebrews were to, by following the Torah, create a model society, teach and, by their example, guide, the World back to their Father. Thus they would be completing G-d’s creation.
But, it did not work out that way.
Despite an amazing array of miracles (the Plagues, the Parting of the Sea, the Pillars of Fire and Cloud, the Manna, etc. ) wrought by G-d on their behalf, complaints and rebellion were constantly occurring. This was especially true of the “mixed multitude” who had opportunistically accompanied the Hebrews out of Egypt.
Nonetheless, the massive group arrived at the foot of Sinai.
G-d, enveloped by a thick cloud, spoke directly to the people below, declaring the Ten Commandments, as the core of this new and special covenant.
The interface of G-d with mere mortals was so overwhelming that their souls left their body. The Hebrews accepted the entire covenant; written, oral, and mystical, at once. Facing G-d was so intense that Moses ascended the mountain to receive further instruction on their behalf.
G-d had just spoken directly with over a million people at the same time. An event such as this had never before happened in human history, and has never happened again, since. One would think that this would have removed any doubt. Steeled the people against any challenge. Cured any shortcoming.
But, it was not to be.
Many of the multitude encamped below (There were six-hundred thousand adult Hebrew males, alone! ) soon resumed agitating to give up (again) and return to captivity. By the fortieth day, the rebellion below had reached a fever pitch. Moses brother, Aaron was the temporary leader. He and Miriam’s son Hur argued strenuously for patience, but to no avail. Hur was killed by the mob.
Aaron; understanding that Moses would be back by morning, decided to play for time. Convinced they would refuse to part with their treasure, he told the people to collect their gold for the construction of an idol. To their eternal discredit, they readily agreed.
Stuck; Aaron built the pagan idol. Debauched rituals and sacrifices commenced, as many of the people, the “mixed multitude” and many Hebrews, as well, actually celebrated their impending return to degradation and enslavement.
G-d informed Moses that, despite all that they received, all they had witnessed, including the Torah itself, these people had turned away from Him. They had not just failed. They had rushed to refuse and abandon their destiny. Like those before the Flood, they would now be destroyed.
Distraught, Moses begged G-d to allow him to take the just-formed Tablets down the mountain. There he hoped to prevail upon the people, and thus save both them, and their holy mission, from destruction. Joshua met him as he descended.
Upon hearing, and then seeing the depraved pagan orgy of his people; the contrast with his last forty days in loving embrace and tutelage by the Creator of the Universe was too much for him. In boundless despair, Moses threw the Tablets, written by the finger of G-d, to the ground, shattering them. He could not save them.
To be continued.